Sunday, March 24, 2013

Can dogs and Chickens get along?

Having pets and poultry together can be a delicate balance. Many times our pets want much more to do with the livestock then we care to let them. Take Ashley for example. She's interested in the chicks from their very first peep. She's their biggest hatching fan, eagerly watching as they make their way into the world. (poor Ashley can't watch now that we have cabinet bators, though she tries!)

dog chicks

After hatch however, she's a naughty little pup trying to catch them. We're not real sure what she would do when she catches one though, since she's never been allowed! The funny thing about her is that while she has a fascination with the peeping eggs, and  really wants to play with the chicks.....she could care less about them once they get to be about a month old. I guess they get too big for her. She has been pecked by a rooster when she got too close to his girls though, so maybe that has something to do with it.



Other dogs can't be allowed around poultry at all. This was Buddy. 


He was seen wondering the neighborhood for days before we decided to take him in. He had a collar but no tags. He was microchipped, but it was never registered. The breeder was out of business, the records had been destroyed. He wasn't reported lost. We cleaned him up and took care of him for a little while until his Silkie chasing started. We think Silkies look too much like rabbits to him...well, it made sense to us since many of these dogs are trained for hunting. Buddy just couldn't quit trying to get to  the Silkies. We ended up taking Buddy to the no-kill shelter and visiting him until he was adopted. 

Then there is Lulu. She came to us from a friend who just couldn't keep her. She has established herself as the resident LGD and is a menace to the fox that tries to find his meals here. (here she is watching over her coops)

dog coop

Here are some comparisons. When they came to be around poultry Lulu was 6 months old, Ashley was 8 years old, Buddy was full grown...probably close to 2. Lulu was only with dogs before coming to the farm, Ashley was a 'chase the kitty' type of pup and Buddy was probably trained to hunt. (we live in a big hunting area, it's a logical conclusion) They all were introduced to the poultry in the same manner and supervised. All 3 showed different behaviors and while we have been able to train them to a point, their initial reactions correctly predicted how they would continue to behave around poultry. 

This isn't exactly a control group. There are many variation here between dogs. We could assume that Beagles and Terriers have been bred more for hunting and Boxers have not so that 'might' have something to do with it. We could assume that Lulus young age and lack of hunt training made her more malleable and therefore easier to train to leave the chickens alone. That would probably explain why she likes to chase moles, squirrels and foxes but not chickens. (you'll never catch me saying 'don't chase the fox'!) I could probably ponder this all day, but it comes down to one thing.......dogs and chickens can get along just fine, or it can get ugly! It's a slow process supervising them to gauge their reactions and train them, but it can be done quite successfully. 
~L

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10 comments:

  1. My dog Lu Lu wasn't raised with chickens but has been around them for the last two years. We watch her close around chicks but she is just one of the chickens in the yard. She did chase off some guineas that would come into the yard every morning to eat scratch and also doves! Actually any of my roosters that messes with her has to go. I've had one that attacked her horribly and she still did nothing, I think that time she wanted to, but I kept her from it. She's so docile with even our rabbits but she'll chase wild rabbits ☺ We are blessed with a great dog!

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    1. Awww, another Lulu! Sounds like she's a real sweetheart!

      ~L

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  2. I hope my dogs like chickens...they didn't like cats until we brought home four 2 week old kittens that we found alone in the pouring rain. Now they LOVE them.

    I am visiting from the Clever Chicks Blog Hop! I am subscribing to your blog now so I wont miss your future posts :-)

    Holly
    Coming soon..."Backyard Chicken Lady" http://backyardchickenlady.blogspot.com

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    1. If she likes kittens, she'll probably like chickens too. Good luck!
      (checking out your link now!)

      ~L

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  3. My dog will go after baby chicks that sneak through the fence, but not adult hens. Go figure!

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    1. That is how Ashley is! She could care less about the adults, but tries to catch the chicks. Too funny!

      ~L

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  4. Interesting. I'm hoping to start a small backyard flock, and hopefully my coonhound Prudence will get along w/them. I've had her since she was a (rescued) puppy. She gets along fine w/ her house cats, so we'll see. Thanks!

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    1. Introduce them slowly and watch carefully. It might take awhile but she'll probably be fine.

      ~L

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  5. The photo of your dog looking in the incubator just cracks me up- Looks just like something my pups would do!

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    1. That picture is probably 3 years old and it still cracks me up when I see it! Dogs sure are curious creatures, aren't they?

      ~L

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