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HELP! My puppy just mauled (and killed) my flock of chickens!


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I feel sick.....

 

Our BC puppy was born 12/17/10 and we have had her for about 5 weeks. We live on a farm and have about 15 chickens. Sadie (the puppy) is inside with us when we are home. Someone is home all day except for droping kids off at school and erands. When we are gone Saide is in an outdoor 10x10x10 kennel. Toady she broke the latch and got out and attacked and mauled our flock. She killed one (a baby) and I have 4 that might not survive. The ones that are not hurt, are all shook up. My husband came home and saw feathers all over the proprety. Sadie was in the feed bin with one cornered. The ones that are hurt are because she pulled the feathers out of them. My kids are so upset and freaked. Of course mad at Saide.

So we have spent so much time and money on her. Is it true that once they taste blood, it's over and the will keep hunting? I don't want to get rid of her but I might have to.

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No, that isn't true at all that once they taste blood they will always be "killers." Your puppy was exhibiting completely normal predatory behavior. You just need to teach her that chasing the chickens is not allowed. Do you need suggestions on how to do that?

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I feel sick.....

 

Our BC puppy was born 12/17/10 and we have had her for about 5 weeks. We live on a farm and have about 15 chickens. Sadie (the puppy) is inside with us when we are home. Someone is home all day except for droping kids off at school and erands. When we are gone Saide is in an outdoor 10x10x10 kennel. Toady she broke the latch and got out and attacked and mauled our flock. She killed one (a baby) and I have 4 that might not survive. The ones that are not hurt, are all shook up. My husband came home and saw feathers all over the proprety. Sadie was in the feed bin with one cornered. The ones that are hurt are because she pulled the feathers out of them. My kids are so upset and freaked. Of course mad at Saide.

So we have spent so much time and money on her. Is it true that once they taste blood, it's over and the will keep hunting? I don't want to get rid of her but I might have to.

 

 

Honestly, this is something I have absolutely no experience with. However, please don't make any decisions without careful thought. First fix the kennel and make it tight. Border collies are world champs at getting through closed doors, even at 3 1/2 months. Is there anyone in your area that can take the pup in the short term? It would probably be good to find a place for it to stay while your family deals with the trauma. This is horrible but there are probably solutions. Some will hurt more than others. The pup is being a little predator exploring, he can learn.

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Liz P Yes Yes!!! I need help! I feel like it's my fault for not teaching her about the chickens. We got out there every day (with her on a leash) and I tell her "NO" as soon she she trys to chase them. But that's all I know how to do. I am in tears over this. I love Saide, I want to help her. Please tell me what I can do.

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Oh, she's a dog (a predator) and they are chickens (prey). It's quite normal behaviour. One of my dogs killed some of my hens last Fall - my bad, I didn't make their enclosure dog-proof enough. I'm quite sure he'd still kill a chicken if he had the chance, but now he doesn't have the chance. Just don't let her near the chickens again.

 

RDM

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Do you have any intentions of ever working her on livestock? If so my advice will be a little different.

 

Keeping her on a leash is definitely the first step. For right now, Saide and the chickens need to be safely contained.

 

When she is near the chickens, exactly what does she do that prompts you to tell her no? If she whines, screams, lunges or does anything stupid I would put her in her pen for a time out. (You can't control yourself around the chickens? Fine, you can't be around them! Privilege lost!)

 

Can she see the chickens from her outdoor pen? If she can, she will fixate on them, the problem will only get worse and she will become more obsessed. You will need to either move her pen or fix it so that she can't see them, even through a small crack.

 

Have you started to teach her basic obedience commands like "lie down?"

 

I would make sure she knows at least the two commands "here" and "lie down." Knowing them means that she obeys no matter what, even if those enticing chickens are nearby. I first teach the meaning of a command in a quiet area with no distractions and the dog on a leash. Are you comfortable teach a dog those two commands?

 

Once I am certain that a dog understand the meaning of "here" and "lie down," I proof the commands (you will obey, no matter what!). This should be done on leash for Saide.

 

To proof the command all you are really doing is asking the dog to obey in more and more difficult situations. Figure out how far away you need to be from the chickens so that Saide knows they are there and is interested in them, but you can still get her attention by saying her name. Practice lie down and here on a leash that distance from the chickens. (Give her the command. If she doesn't obey, make her obey.) The reward for obeying is praise, food and even getting closer to the chickens. The punishment for not obeying immediately is going farther away then being made to obey the command again. Practice any and all commands this way, but especially "here" and "lie down."

 

The lie down command is important for a Border Collie because it is their default off button. It stops their action, gives them a chance to calm down and gives you the chance to get their attention and get them under control. But, if you give the lie down command too late, like after Saide is already in motion and chasing the chickens, it will not work. You need to give the command the second you see her fixate on them!

 

Something important to remember, "lie down" means the dog lies down and doesn't move from that spot until given permission to move. If the dog gets up from a down position without being released, you take the dog back to that spot and lie it back down.

 

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So, here is how I would handle the chicken situation once you have proofed the basic commands with Saide. You are out in the yard with Saide on a leash. She turns her head and fixates on the chickens. Lie her down. Praise (a calm "good dog" is plenty). Call her to you (away from the chickens) then lie her down again.

 

If she holds the lie down and stays relaxed, she can stay with you and watch them. Watching the chickens is a privilege.

 

If she doesn't take either command, make her obey. Practice a few times. (Lie her down, move a few feet, call her to you, repeat.) If she is still breaking the lie down, make her obey one last time then put her in her pen for a time out.

 

If she takes the commands and holds the lie down but is becoming more and more tense (quivering, whining, digging her claws into the dirt, etc) as time goes on, tell her that'll do then put her away for a time out.

 

Eventually she will learn that if she is relaxed and obeys commands she is allowed to watch the chickens, but if she gets overexcited or ignores you she will be put away. Once she understands this concept, telling her "no" when she looks like she is getting excited or thinking about chasing them can work as a reminder of the rules. At that point you can also consider giving her some off leash privileges.

 

Ultimately, this is all about teaching Saide self control.

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You puppy is not a killer -- it was being a puppy and killing the chickens was probably a lot of fun. How really are the chickens any different from a squeaky toy in a dog's mind? You can teach your pup to not chase/kill the chickens. Mine learn this by me simply giving them a verbal correction when they show interest. This means that you cannot allow the pup to see the chickens when you're not at home and that you need to spend time training him/her when you're at home. Remember, this is simply a containment and training issue (not a problem with the pup) - honestly, if you don't make the time to do this type of training I expect you'll also run into other problems with your pup . . .

 

Kim

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Remember, this is simply a containment and training issue (not a problem with the pup)

 

Yes, this. There is absolutely nothing wrong with your dog. She was being a dog. Of course you can train her, but bottom line, you must make sure the chickens are contained where she cannot get to them. If she can see the chickens from her outdoor pen, she's just staring at them, longing to get at them all day long. How about either crating her inside (ideal), or moving her pen out of sight of the chickens? And again, you must make it impossible (or as near to) for her to have access to the chickens.

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Great advice from everybody. At 3.5 months old, she's a baby. You're looking at, realistically, keeping a close eye on her and working with her consistently until she's at least a year old. Most dogs go through adolescence much like human teenagers.

 

As someone mentioned, this is an issue that will come up with any dog you bring home, unless you get an adult, already trained to ignore poultry. And even then, you'd need to teach such a dog that ignoring poultry means the new ones, as well.

 

I'd be crating her in the house, so that she can't even hear the chickens. Get her away from them totally, and only let her see them when she's on leash with you. Unless your kids are older kids and very responsible, I wouldn't let them take her out where the chickens are, even on leash.

 

I know you're all very shocked, and it must have been heart breaking to see your birds so mauled, but this is very normal behavior. Good luck with everything, this is a lot to deal with.

 

Ruth

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Thank you for all your replies. The 1st thing we will need to do is move her kennel. She is right next to the chickens. I actually thought that she being near them that would get her used to them better. Then I will follow your advice on training her. And your right, she was just playing with them like she does her toys (I'm sure!). She does crate well indoors so I guess we can use that for now.

Thank you so much.

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I just want to say thank you for being willing to work with your dog. Our current BC ended up in rescue because of a similar situation where the owner was simply unwilling to work with him. And he's turned out to be a fantastic dog.

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As someone else mentioned she is a baby. She may not have even intentionally killed them, but was playing with them, and of course, unfortunately and sadly things went wrong. My one border collie used to sleep with the baby chicks, washed them, and kept them warm. He was a great mother hen. As a puppy he wanted to play with the babby bunnies, but he would have accidently hurt them/killed them because he was very paw oriented and one slap too hard would have broken their backs.

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I just want to say thank you for being willing to work with your dog. Our current BC ended up in rescue because of a similar situation where the owner was simply unwilling to work with him. And he's turned out to be a fantastic dog.

I feel like we are to blame, not her. We love her and she is very sweet. I only work 3 hours a day so I have lots of time to work with this issue with her. My other dog (who is 12) is 1/2 Aussie 1/2 Huskey is great with the chickens. She would even sleep next to the brooder in the house. She has never ever hurt anything in her life.

Having a puppy is so hard!

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If you don't want Sadie having anything at all to do with the chickens, I would teach her the "Leave It" command.

 

With a treat in both hands, start lowering one to the floor while saying Leave It. When Sadie starts to go for the treat say "Aht" and bring your hand back up. Rinse and repeat. When you get to the point you can leave the treat on the floor for a few seconds say "Good Girl!" and give her the treat that's in your other hand. When you feel comfortable enough with the training indoors, take her outside where she can't see the chickens and start your training. There's a big difference between being indoors and outdoors so don't get discouraged if she acts as if she doesn't know what you're talking about at first. Just start from square on. Once she gets it, put her on lead and walk past the chickens. As soon as you see her spot them, tell her Leave It and turn and walk away from them. If she tries to turn around to look at the chickens, take her in the house. After a few minutes, try walking her past the chickens again. Rinse and repeat. As soon as she ignores the chickens, reward her. For a while, you will probably have to tell her each and every time you go outside to Leave It but she'll eventually get.

 

I love the Leave It command. It's come in handy more than once.

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HI... I keep ducks, and my Bess was really interested in them... to the point, she wants to be the fun police... they get in the kiddy pool and take their bath, and she carries on like she thinks they are dying...

I put an invisible fence in the back and gave wide berth to the duck pen... so, at first, because she has chased, and she has pinned and plucked before... I let them have free range time at different times, and at first, she wasn't out when the ducks had free range. Then, I started allowing her out when I was there and playing floppy frisbee with her so she was totally concentrating on the fun of the frisbee... over time... she has become fine with them...although, she will chase them out of 'her' space sometimes...but usually not. Bess turns 3 in a week or so... but when she was young.. . nope... the 2 had to be separated...I even put a tarp on the dog side of the duck pen so she couldn't fixate on them.

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Hmmm pride goeth before a fall alright... was feeling smug about the interest level and my management skills of dog and ducks... when a lawn chair must have fallen on a Suzy in Bess' territory, and all the flapping and Quacking must have been too much for her... feathers everywhere... took plucked duck to vet since she made it through the night and she's a good layer....not enough skin to glue skin tears......so they are leaving it open and hoping she heals...gave her an antibiotic shot and a spray to put on the deep open places.. told me to let her sit on eggs so she will be quiet and undisturbed then and have better chances of healing well.

Just when ya think ya got it... you find out you need more work!

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  • 2 weeks later...

When I first got my one border Jess she was on top of one trying to eat it alive. We get her when she was 1 and she had been around chickens before and was fine. We yelled at her and put the half dead chickden back. The chicken lived just didnr move for 4 days. that was 1 and 1/2 years ago. Now we have babies and she just looks at them. We kept the chickens loose and Jess we vever seperated them we just would watch her and say easy be nice and the chickens and her became friends. we still will always keep our eyes on her. She does kill groundhogs and knows the taste of blood but can be trusted with the chickens and rabbit. Good luck just work with her it will be ok.

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  • 1 year later...

Great advice from everyone, especially Liz, but I'll add if you're feeling pretty overwhelmed, and it sounds like you are (which is definitely a normal reaction to having a BC puppy!), I'd also suggest looking into getting some professional help from your area. Even if you don't plan on working her on stock, someone who trains herding dogs might be invaluable help, and can give you real time advice and feedback. It would definitely be a worthwhile investment. Good luck!

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You've gotten some good advice, here. I hope it will help you.

 

Remember, she's just a baby. She doesn't know about killing, she just knows about having a great time! Being a baby predator just means she doesn't have any clue about being gentle with her toys - whether they are stuffed squeakies or chickens.

 

Keep her apart from the chickens, period. Border collies don't "get used to" tantalizing things right next to them. Rather, they may instead fixate on them. It's like a wonderful, interesting goodie is being dangled just out of their reach - Every Day!

 

So, move her kennel and keep her away from them, plus consider giving the chickens a fenced yard of their own. My dogs are okay with my chickens if I'm out with them, but I would never EVER trust them with chickens, unsupervised. One flapping squawk and the fun could begin. (Though granted, we have coyotes so the chickens are never out unattended, anyhow.)

 

I feel for you about this and what a dreadful shock it must be. But I hope you and your family will understand that your puppy was simply acting on impulse. At her age, ANY moving thing is apt to be a potential play-toy, whether it's a mouse, a squirrel or a chicken. You've got a lifetime of training and management ahead of you, so here's a place to begin.

 

She'll be fine. She's not suddenly a killer. She's just a puppy who got WAY over excited (can you imagine all that flapping and squawking - whee!) and who had no idea it could be wrong, nor any concept about hurting other living things. She thought it was simply great fun.

 

But this too, will pass, if you are careful and consistent. Again, my condolences on the upset.

 

~ Gloria

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