A gate was inadvertently left open this morning and by the time I got home at 1pm, our newly acquired 7 month old dog had caught and eaten our pet duck. There was nothing left but feathers. I am really concerned that this "habit" is going to be very hard to break. Tomorrow we are going to hold our ducks and chickens and familiarize the dog with the idea that the foul are important to us and must not be eaten.
We purchased day old chicks and kept them in a bin in the garage until they were old enough to put outside in the day. We made a pen covered with chicken wire on 5 sides (including top). We took the dogs out one at a time on a leash and showed them the chicks. We took them closer each time and for longer periods each time. Finally I just took a lawn chair out and the dogs and sat with them. I had a squirt bottle with water in it. When the dog(s) got too excited, I gave them a squirt and a "no!" We didn't let them actually get around the chickens without a chicken wire between them until the chickens were probably 12 weeks old. I had one person hold the dog on the ground with a leash holding their muzzle closed and I held the chicken letting the dog smell the chicken's butt and larger areas (no snipping off of heads that way!). I would let them sniff and say NO! They would try and "just taste them a little" nipping feathers and I would scold them with a stern NO! Next step was letting the chickens loose but keeping the dogs on leashes and letting them approach the chickens. When they would get too excited or nip, a pull on the leash and a NO! If they didn't back off, a harder pull on the leash and stronger scolding. Not until they would predictibly respond to a NO! without a pull on the leash did we do away with the leash. Then we only let them around the chickens when we were there to remind them and eventually just let them be. It may have helped that there was a rooster in the bunch, as he was not intimidated by the dogs and stood his ground. The whole process took about 2 weeks after the stage of the chickens being out of the pen. The dogs LOVE to go out and see the chickens and yes, they will chase them. They run into the flock, scatter them, make them squawk and scatter. That's all. I have even trained one cocker spaniel to round them up and herd them back to the area I prefer they stay in. He is very good. They have never hurt the chickens. We had 2 chicks this year that hatched. It seemed to be the "peeps" of the baby chicks that really set the dogs off. When they got to be about 10 weeks, we introduced the new chickens to the rest of the flock and to the dogs. The dogs were fine until the young chickens would make noise. It seemed to be the high pitch that excited them. Now that they chickens are about 15 weeks, their voices have changed and the dogs don't care anymore. Most dogs will accept whatever you tell them to. If you are the pack leader and tell them your hamster is part of the pack and work with them in a fashion similar to what I describe above, they should respect your wish that this hamster is family. Note: this would not apply to your neighbor's hamster. It would soon be lunch. Not a pack member, you see.
Umm... depending on how you train your dog has a BIG impact on weather it can guard chickens or not. We taught mine to hunt or kill small animals such as chickens so my dog couldn't possible guard chicken without eating them. But if you train your dog to guard chickens he could guard them but there is a small possibility that it may eat the chickens since that is what it was initially bred for.
There are some things you can do to discourage them from killing the chickens but it will never be safe for them to be with chickens without supervision.If you teach the dog a good recall then you will be able to call the dog away anytime it attempts to chase and kill a chicken and you could reward calm behavior (such as lying down and ignoring the chickens).But depending on the dog's prey dive they may never be able to be around chickens safely so use your judgement and keep the chickens safety in mind when trying to train him to be around them.
You can't make a dog scared of chickens, but you can train him to respect chickens as something that cannot be and should not be killed by over powering his predatory instinct. This takes training, knowing when the right time is to correct his actions before he goes into the attack mode, practice and dedication.
Best to avoid terriers like Jack Russells and similar as it is their nature to catch and kill. Most dogs can be trained not to touch chickens if they are brought up that way from the start. A couple of the best breeds to train as they are intelligent are Labrador Retreivers and Border Collies. They may even be taught how to 'herd' the chickens like sheepdogs herd sheep. It will be more difficult if you have an older dog who is introduced to chickens for the first time, you may need professional help.
Yes, a dog can be trained to not attack chickens. However, the level of difficulty and time required to do so may very depending on the dog (individual, age, breed, previous experiences with chicken etc) and its owner. Possible solutions: Introducing a rooster to the flock may deter a small dog or puppy from bothering the chickens. Closely supervise a dog and the chicken(s) in your yard, using a hose or spray bottle to squirt the dog every time it gets too close and or bothers the chickens. Consult an animal trainer.
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