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Teaching dog to be calm around chickens

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    Ah dog training is always such an interesting discussion, I think there are as many methods as there are dogs and trainers/handlers!

    I generally agree with the food treats comment – I would start to fade them once the dog understood what it was to do. Food rewards are an easy way to make it fun for the dog. But I also want a happy dog that comes to me out of choice, not out of fear, and a dog that feels it is being challenged all the time is not a happy dog. It’s true I’ve given you a totally simplified version of what I would actually do, but my version involves clickers that mark behaviours and randomised reward patterns that are hard to explain on here LOL

    That said, a dog with leadership is a happy dog, and there is a range of ways to achieve this with your dog (though I’ve also found over the years that most of them don’t gel well with most pet owners).

    Growling is not something an alpha dog does. Alpha dogs are calm, controlled and cool, showing their like and dislike for things by body language and other very subtle cues.

    I will always have a preference for a dog who is trained to ‘think’ and act rather than a dog that is just doing things to appease a master – such dogs are a lot better behaved when the owner is no longer there :whistle: he heh sneaky puppies…

    Of course this all depends on the patience of the trainer and the intellect of the breed too!


    I have had some gruesome outcomes with dogs I have owned and chooks over the years, thankfully the dogs I have now are not remotely interested and can be left safely together with all of my poulty…such a relief. I once had a Pomeranian kill and mangle 20 chooks and 6 darling chickens in one hit, he himself crossed the rainbow bridge via injection shortly after, it was heartbreaking.

    I did however get a little pup (Chihuahua x Jack Russell) a while back and she showed much more interest in the chooks than she should have. Fortunately and by pure chance the rooster took an instant dislike to her and one day when she bolted after the flock the rooster gave her the thrashing of her life. After much yelping and screaming by the pup, she took off up the yard with rooster in hot pursuit and has never ever looked at the chooks the same again. I would highly recommend that any new pup be put around an overly protective rooster, it really sorts them out quick smart and burns something into their puppy memory forever.

    I do find though that dogs will show much more interest in breeds such as Silky bantams (they must wonder what on earth they are) or any of the flightier breeds so perhaps sticking the the large heavier breeds is best for people having problems with dogs.


    Love the photo of Sparky and the ducks. This is the age that my little Oakley got her thrashing from the rooster, she has never forgotten it.


    Just a quick update.

    I have been putting my dog inside everytime I have to work in the chicken yard, so that he doesn’t get jealous and run up and down the fence.

    Only recently I have started to let him come into the fenced yard with the chicken coop and either make him sit, whilst I open the chicken coop up or he is slowly losing interest I think. I have covered the whole run in a tarp with only a few holes so he can’t easily see them either.

    I am trying to be very supportive and encourage him away from the coop without him even realising. He still wants to sniff etc, so it will be a long process. I know if one of my chooks would peck him, that would sort him out!

    My cat went to sratch him him twice when she was sitting on a chair and he would not go past again. He learns quickly!

    Still won’t leave the chooks out with him yet, but hopefully we will get there!


    My beautiful dog decided that the chookies were extremely interesting and decided to have a nip one day.. she ran past and nipped as she went.. was a definite and clear clash of her teeth, but she didn’t connect…she wouldn’t dare while I was there.

    I got angry at her and made her come and sit down and she cowered the ears, and soppied up the eyes, and wagged her tail… to which 4 ex-battery hens decided to wage their own insulting onslaught.. out of nowhere came these girls, and attacked Shadow while she was sitting at my feet.

    Poor dog didn’t know where to go, what to do, nor why I wouldn’t help her.. but I just patted her on the head, and said, on your bed! LOL. that is now her “safety zone” for when the chookies are free ranging, although sometimes they all can be found sitting together in the sun, but it took a few weeks of leading her out there on her lead, and introducing them all for her to get the idea they weren’t there for her entertainment nor nourishment. she was almost 7 when I got the chookies and is Shepherd X Kelpie.

    My only fear now is that my neighbours are getting a bull terrier and Im scared he’s going to tunnel under the fence as puppies do, so I have spoken to them, and we’ll be doing regular intervals of introductions to other dogs (mine), play dates, and also chookie association and hopefully I’ll have safe chookies should they either escape to their place, or vice versa with the puppy 🙂


    We have a border collie who loves to round up the chooks, he would never hurt them though, he is also very good at rounding up escpaed bunnies. Our other dog is a malteeze shitzu who is a bit psycho. He is getting better, I think he has just gotten used to all the animals now, still wouldn’t trust him though.


    My little dog Oakley is petrified of the cat, if she looks sideways at her she yelps..


    I trained my son’s poodle in a couple of sessions. I watched a video explaining the procedure of picking up a chook and walking around with it and just followed the basic instructions and it worked a treat. Like Simo said, I used “leader of the pack” principle, so picked up chook and walked to where the poodle was and squatted down and when poodle came over to try and mouth the chook, I used angry tone to back him off and told him it was “my chicken”. At first, I had to push him away but later just words were enough. So easy. Now when he comes to visit, if he sees a chook, he will avert his eyes and pretend it’s not there. I can trust him not to chase or attack.

    This is the video.


    I have to laugh at this post :laugh: [not because of the question, its a good question but because of the memory of my dogs first encounter with the hens]

    My dog was adopted (we think he’s almost a year old) and is a terror cross. He also though it was fun chasing the girls when they were out but he didn’t expect the rooster to come running to protect them. Needless to say he now keeps well away from the girls and doesn’t find them fun at all.

    So I would also suggest getting a rooster even a bantam rooster will do the trick if its a small dog.

    The other suggestions about making sure your the alpha is also a very good suggestion. I have also heard nipping the dog on the ear is something an alpha dog would do to discipline the lower ones (but they bite/nip the ears of course)


    yesterday I popped Mr Pickles ( wabbit ) done in the enclosed part of the chook run and sat down there with him

    the dog saw him ( not hard, hes all white ) and come running down, started nipping at him through the wire, licking his chops, scratching at the wire. the more mr pickles ran, the more excited he got. I had to drag two kids out of bed, luckily I had my mobile on me, to grab the dog and his lead LOL. which has helped me think about what I am going to pop around the bottom of my chook run


    FrootLoops, try digging down a little ways and doubling the wire, but bring the wire folded horizontally into the chookpen across the floor a little bit, and bury it. This is how we used to do the chook wire when I lived on a bit of property to keep the foxes from tunnelling in. Unfortunately small terriers and foxes can also climb, so if your dog is a climber, I suggest wire completely over the cage as well. :S

    These dogs huh? someone should remind them they’re not supposed to be wombats nor monkeys. :laugh:



    We always trained our dogs rather like Gianna suggests. They were introduced on a very regular basis to the creatures they needed to learn to respect, whilst on a lead.

    When we were confident the dog understood the importance to us of the rabbits, chookens etc then we would let the dog off the lead under close supervision by us of course.

    We then quietly removed ourselves for longer and longer times until we were assured all was well.

    I believe the major point in all the training is to take it slowly and only move on to the next step when you are positive the dog is ready to move on. And the training must be every day and for short lengths of time at first eg 10 minutes.

    Our labrador could catch a baby rabbit and return it in his huge mouth, very wet but completely unharmed, ditto with the occasional waywood chooken. We taught the lab to have a very soft mouth by beginning with half pound packs of butter, :laugh:

    One lab could carry the butter without breaking the paper, and could carry a raw egg without breaking the shell.

    This same lab saved our eldest daughter from a nasty fall, or worse, into a 2 foot deep drain. I had taken daughter outside with me while I put some washing on the line, and instead of putting her into the playpen I used as a jail for her, I put her on the grass unfettered, ‘cos I thought I’d only be a second, you know how you do!!!!

    I heard her crying rather angrily and rushed to her side. The dog was lying on the ground between the baby and the drain and as she tried to clamber over him he would rise up and as she plopped down again he would lie down.

    We have many stories we could tell about our beautiful Hamish he was most definately mans and womans best friend.

    Bobbs :hug: :hug: :hug:


    Hamish sounds like a wonderful dog and friend Bobbee. :hug:



    Yep, he was a very special and much loved family member Gianna. :clap: :tup:

    Happy days,

    Bobbs :hug: :hug: :hug:


    I just want to give a quick update.

    Yesterday I took Neddie into the orchard on an extra long tether to see how he would be around the chickens. He was doing really well more interested in eating their poop (ewww) then them. I started to just let him wander on the tether and said no a couple of times he started looking interested in them, then he went the other way. At one point I was feeding the chickens food in one hand and Neddie chicken food in the other hand (apparently he likes grains as well lol…

    Anyway I got a bit cocky and let him off the chain… It went well for a while until one of the chickens got frightened and started to run. Neddie went flat out after her, I was very worried, but caught him, scolded him and took him straight inside, whilst checking the chook was ok.

    Anyway took him back in there again today on a tether and he isn’t all that fussed about the chooks unless they start running.

    I’m thinking I might have to take him in there make the chooks run and spray him with the hose as soon as he starts after them. He doesn’t hear me when he is in pursuit.

    I never thought I would see a day when Neddie and the chooks would be that close together though when feeding them both either side of me 🙂

    Getting there…

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