Keeping dogs and chickens together. Does it sound crazy? It might, but let’s consider it for a moment. The idea of getting a dog used to the presence of chickens can be very useful for people who live in a village, raise chickens, and want dogs to protect them, for example, from a fox. But what to do if your dog is aggressive towards these birds and can’t help but chase them around the yard?
Fortunately, this case isn’t lost, and there are some ways to make your dog get along with chickens. You have to be prepared that these ways require you to devote a lot of free time. To teach your dog obedience, you will need to get some knowledge on dog’s psychology first, and then, you will have to put it into practice.
Below you will find behavioral tips to use in training your dog that is not friendly towards chickens.
Know Your Pup’s Prey Drive
Not every breed of dog, and not even each individual dog, will react the same to the sight of a chicken in the yard. You need to be at least a little aware of your dog’s reflexes and know how the pup will behave in a given situation.
To find out, observe the pooch carefully during walks. Pay attention to the way it behaves in contacts with other dogs and how your pup reacts to passing cats. This knowledge will allow you to estimate your dog training’s starting point that will prepare it for coexistence with hens.
You may wonder if there are canine breeds that are better with chickens than others. It depends. Every dog is different, but there are some specifications of the breed that can tell you what to expect. For example, German Shepherds are considered gentle when in contact with smaller animals. You can even find a German Shepherd dog that can look over tiny newborn chicks. Learn more about friend chicken puppies.
When it comes to dog breeds raised to track, chase, and catch the game – their hunting instincts may be so developed that it will be tough to tame them and teach these dogs a peaceful approach to chickens.
We can say that one breed would be best with chickens than the other, but you shouldn’t give up, even if your pup belongs to the breed of hunting dogs. There is basically one specific rule when it comes to getting dogs used to being with chickens – pups that want to learn and learn fast are the ones that can get along with chicks the best. It’s all about the training.
Positive reinforcement is a training method based on animal obedience without applying penalties. It is when the animal obeys the command in return for a reward that causes the behavior to repeat itself.
As training practices and research developed, the trainers observed that when rewards are used in the upbringing and education process, the dog experiences pleasant emotions. This means that such an approach is a good one for your pup. It is associated with experiencing joy, and the trainer is perceived as the source of goodness.
This way of training is the most successful one, that’s why it is worth using it in getting the dog used to chickens’ presence. Step by step, you will be able to make your dog indifferent to the presence of backyard chickens. Your pup can even start treating them as a part of a herd.
Note: Each presented step should last as long as it is needed to get your dog to understand the new rules. Don’t rush. Sometimes, it takes up to a month to replace an old habit with a new one.
Step 1 is all about sniffing and being calm. Go to your birds in the morning and take the eggs as usual. Only this time, take your dog with you, tell it to sit down, and control its behavior all the time. Keep your eyes on your pup. Let chickens run, but don’t let your dog chase them. If the dog breaks out and starts attacking birds – you have to end the trial.
This step ends when your dog sits calmly in the chicken coop corner and waits for you to be done. Every time the pooch manages to do it – reward it with a treat.
If your furry friend already understands that birds are not for chasing and attacking, you may want to get them closer. When the birds are walking in the yard, walk-in carefully with the dog but do not stay at the entrance; keep walking among the birds. Watch your pet all the time and react when it behaves unpredictably by shouting “no” loudly. Give a reward for walking next to the birds.
When you manage to do this (it can take up to several weeks), you can say that you have socialized your pooch with chickens. Congratulations!
As you can see, all you need to train your dog is time, consistency, and patience. Your dog won’t be interested in the chicken coop like before if you teach your pup how to cooperate peacefully with other animals.
Depending on your dog’s personality, it may be a long and excruciating process to get it used to the fact that your chickens are friends, and not live toys it can chase after. It will all be worth it in the end, though, when all of your animals are able to coexist in peace.
Joseph Hudson has been raising chickens for over 15 years. In 2018, he completed the Agriculture & Natural Resources program at Mt. San Antonio College. He currently raises over 1400 chickens on his 7.5-hectare farm. He keeps sharing his experience on raising healthy and happy chickens on Chicken & Scratch.