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We live in a more urban area right now but have a backyard chicken coop. Our chickens are a couple of years old now and we have never let them out of the coop with the dogs around. We've bought a few more chicks and we'd like to work with our dogs to get them used to being around chickens without going after them. I don't really know if this is possible, but I'd like to get some input from anyone having success with this and how you went about it.

 

Thanks.

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I have a flock, but do not let the chickens interact with the dogs except for very, very rare occasions. Ok, so once. I had a young pullet get out and I couldn't catch her. Wouldn't come to me and ran into a wooded area. I sent Zoe to get her, and within about 30 seconds, she emerged with chicken in mouth. She actually didn't hurt her either, but I think that was just dumb luck. Chicken went limp, Zoe dropped her, Chicken sprang back to life, but I grabbed her first.

 

But I think Zoe thinks she's a retriever sometimes. I have no earthly idea how to train that - I just decided to train that Chickens = Off Limits, and have stuck with it. I fenced in a big run for the chicks, which seemed like the safest option for me.

 

Good luck!

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We live in a more urban area right now but have a backyard chicken coop. Our chickens are a couple of years old now and we have never let them out of the coop with the dogs around. We've bought a few more chicks and we'd like to work with our dogs to get them used to being around chickens without going after them. I don't really know if this is possible, but I'd like to get some input from anyone having success with this and how you went about it.

 

Thanks.

 

We had chickens and dogs loose together, including chicks. Sometimes unsupervised. Teaching them not to focus on the chicks, rewarding them for being relaxed around them, and scolding them for chasing or obsessing works pretty well. One of the dog still kills wild chicken-sized birds, but she can be left alone with hens without a problem.

 

 

The big difficulty is keeping it safe for the chickens while the dog's learning, and making sure it's generalised to new hens. Leash first of all, and then be in a position to block the dog or grab it, once you start working off-leash. Most of the time 'no' worked but I wouldn't do those early stages without being able to intercept the dog.

 

 

Not a dog trainer, I know nothing about this kind of stuff. If I can do it, you're seriously overqualified for the task.

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My dogs will ignore chickens if we're around outside, (well, maybe except for my 22 month old Aussie!) but I would NOT trust my dogs around chickens unsupervised. Chickens just do too many enticing things, what with all the flapping and squawking and chicken dramas that can go on.

 

My dogs have never offered to harm chickens - heck, my old Jesse used to help me bring the chickens in, before predators made it unsafe for me to let mine out in the pasture. But my younger guys are working dogs: the switch between "herd" and "chase" can be a subtle one, when it comes to feathered creatures. And when there are multiple dogs, it's so easy for one playful pounce to turn into something that gets a hen hurt, even without a dog meaning to cause harm. I just don't think it's worth the risk, when the situation includes several dogs.

 

Just my tuppence, everyone's mileage may vary. :)

Cheers ~

 

Gloria

P.S.

Plus if the hens lay eggs where dogs can get to them, your egg crop may start to disappear. ;)

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Well ... TWooie slaughtered almost all my chickens once, and I had to start again. He actually tore through the wire to their coop and went inside and had himself a killing spree. He now ignores them when they manage to escape their coop, provided I am right there with him, but if I weren't I think he would kill them gleefully. He's just too much (Aussie) predator and they are just such tasty, easy prey. Right now I have a dozen or so baby chicks in my dining room under a heat lamp and he mainly ignores them unless I open the cage to feed or water them, and then he's all up in my grill panting and whining.

 

None of my other dogs are much interested in the chickens, nor will they work them. Piper would put away my neighbours' ducks when they got out, but I can't get her to work a chicken for anything. Dexter makes Mad Teeth at them and then runs away. If my chickens get out, I have to use the terrier to help put them back. I think that's very amusing, but she is quiet and steady on chickens and very carefully pressures them into heading back to the gate.

 

I'd like to give my chickens free run of the place, but they won't stop crossing the road (seriously) as we are unfenced and they end up in the neighbours' yards across the way. Our side of the road is all farms, the other side is a labyrinth of starter castles for suburban monarchs, and their inhabitants get quite panicky about stray chickens in their yards. And yet they have no problem letting their dogs off leash to come onto my property to harass my chickens through the fence wire. I recently started loosing TWooie on those dogs, and it seems to have helped - a lot fewer of them come onto my property, and TWooie sees the chickens as something he should resource guard from strange dogs rather than his next delicious meal ;-) Win win!

 

But he would still totally eat them if I weren't watching. Actually, he doesn't eat them so much as kill and bury them for later.

 

RDM

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I have 10 border collies and 2 LGDs. I also have around 40-50 chickens, standard size and bantams. And two cats that are indoor/outdoor. They all co-exist peacefully. I will have to be extra-vigilant should any hens hatch chicks this spring, because the cats, who are about a year and a half old, were exceedingly interested in the chickens, especially the bantams, when I first started letting them go out during the day, and I suspect that chicks would be way too much temptation.

 

But the dogs never harm the chickens. They might mow them down in excitement running around the yard, but there is no deliberate abuse of chickens. I can use Pip and Lark to move chickens, and both will also break up rooster fights, though Lark is more effective (Pip is a little too inclined to use his teeth to make a point whereas Lark will just bust between them on command.

 

My dog are raised around the chickens and taught to leave them alone. Kes has been a bit hard-headed about this, but her thing is really just to run through them and make the squawk and flap--there's no intent to grab one.

 

I actually worried more about the guard dogs, and Min did grab a hen the first time I let her off her tie out when she was still new here. She didn't kill the hen, though I don't know that she wouldn't have if I hadn't seen her in action and immediately corrected her.

 

So, yes, your dogs and chickens can live peacefully together. Your dogs, if they are so inclined, can learn to work the chickens. Mine do not work the chickens on their own, but will do so if asked. Laura's Nick will sometimes work them on his own, but only if Laura is also out in the yard, and then what he's doing is bringing them to her, not just randomly moving them around (interestingly, Nick and Pip are littermates and Lark is a close relative; Nick and Pip's mom wouldn't deign to work chickens if they were the last livestock on earth). Dogs with a high prety drive might take more work and require greater vigilance. Right now I have a dog in for training, and she's way too predatory about the chickens (and cats). If she were going to stay here more than temporarily, I would train her to leave the chickens alone, but she's here for just a month, so I leash walk her except when the chickens are up for the night and the cats are in the house.

 

FWIW, teaching a dog to leave small animals alone is one time when I will use punishment (if merited) to make it clear to a dog that small animals are not to be killed or maimed. In general, the worst I've ever had to do is a good scruff shake, but I can imagine if a dog were difficult to impress, I'd have to be willing to go a little further.

 

I have a friend who has chickens and takes in a lot of foster dogs, not all of which are border collies. She also has a gazillion barn cats. She has been able to teach all of them to leave her chickens alone as well.

 

J.

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Thanks for all the input.

 

We've been working with it by taking them out a few minutes at a time and being there to block and correct. So far, still way to much interest especially on the part of Cadi, my golden retriever/spaniel mix. Jedi sort of looks at them as something to herd and chase if they move. Cody understood right away that we wanted them to be off limits, so he won't go near them because he doesn't care about them as much as he likes being the world's greatest lizard hunter. Cadi licks her lips, whines, and laser focuses on them like they're her next meal and she never ate before in her life. :rolleyes:

 

We'll probably just build a bigger coop eventually although we'll keep working on it. I remember what the hens sounded like under attack by a possum once, and I don't relish hearing or seeing that again.

 

Mary, now that I think of it, Pax did spend an extraordinary amount of time by the back gate staring at the chicken coop. :)

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I have 4 hens and no problems with my dogs bothering them. I basically introduced them just like with the cats, they know they are supposed to be gentle with them. They can now all be out in the yard together and nobody bothers anybody. Two of my dogs will work the chickens Liz, (she is the best chicken dog, hands down!) and Stella will work them too, but the other 3 don't really pay any attention to them. It's kind of handy to have a dog that will work them (at least for me) especially if I want to put them up early for some reason, Liz will go out and find them and gather them all up and put them in their house. It is a hoot to watch her get them all, I really need to get a good video of her working them.

 

Liz and my dearly departed Boots ;-(

 

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  • 2 years later...

All my dogs have grown up with chickens free ranging around the farm. They are taught from little on that chickens are not something to be chased. Floss was my go to dog if I needed birds brought in, she loved it. Quinn who is now 8 months, ran through a bunch of hen that were out in the garden sending them in all directions, since I was right there, I met him at the end of his "fun" and scolded him. After that chickens were not so fun anymore. Now he thinks they are great candy dispensers (why dogs enjoy chicken poo is beyond me).

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None of my dogs chase chickens in front of me but will blaze through them if unsupervised.

If Tilly gets lose on her own somebody is getting chased some where.

As for the eating of Poop. Tilly told me it is full of "Vitaminnies"

 

Dan & Tilly

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I hate to admit that Dew is always working the chickens. Alone or supervised. I am lazy, it affects nothing so I let her go. She pushes them here and there or just lays in the middle of them. They dont seem to care either. She can also move them with purpose when I ask. It is a strange relationship she has with them. Would never touch one unless i asked.

The other dogs were taught not to work them and they dont. Mick doesnt see chickens but he sees guineas. He won't work them... way beneath his dignity ;) Dew would rather work chickens or ducks over sheep. Geeze that's kinda hard to admit but she's gettin old and I don't care. She works anything I ask so we're happy.

Training was more about persistence when I'm not looking for the birds and my dogs.

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