Many people that live on farms or have a lot of land will own both dogs and chickens. It is important that you teach your dog to leave chickens alone.
Before introducing your dog to chickens, be sure that they have a handle on basic obedience commands. Then, you should prepare your dogs to meet the chickens and slowly increase the time they spend together while keeping an eye on things.
In this article, we will guide you through the process of introducing your dog and chickens to each other. We will tell you which obedience commands are best to practice, how to prepare your dogs to meet the chickens, and how to finally introduce them. We will also discuss the dog breeds that generally don’t like chickens. This is not to say that you can’t adopt certain dog breeds when you have chickens. We are just letting you know about breeds with a higher potential for violence toward chickens.
I have been a pet owner my entire life, and understand the importance of wanting your various pets to get along with each other. If an untrained dog is left alone with chickens, the results can be disastrous. It is important to prepare for their meeting and monitor all interactions between dogs and chickens. Keep reading to learn the best way to introduce your dog and chickens.
How To Teach A Dog To Leave Chickens Alone
Many people that have dogs and chickens want to know that their dogs won’t attack their chickens when they meet each other. Most dogs have never met a chicken and might scare or even attack a chicken when they meet for the first time.
Many dogs have something called a “prey drive” which basically means that when they see or smell something that they consider prey, they will try to get it by any means necessary. This usually applies to animals like squirrels, rabbits, cats, and even chickens. If you have a dog with a strong prey drive, you may want to reconsider introducing them to your chickens.
For a dog with a weak or nonexistent prey drive, introducing them to your chickens should be a fairly painless process. If you want to introduce your dog to your chickens, you will need to do it carefully, even if they have a low prey drive. We have laid out the steps that you should take to prepare your animals to meet in the following sections.
Teach And Practice Basic Obedience Commands
Before you even start to think about letting your dog meet a chicken, you will need to make sure that your dog knows and responds to obedience commands. You must be confident that your dog will listen to you even when they are faced with distractions as interesting as chickens. This is especially important for dogs that have a strong prey drive and who might try to attack your chickens.
Some of the most important commands that your dog should know are:
- Leave It
- Settle Down
Each of these commands, when followed, will end up with your dog leaving chickens alone. Before trying these out in front of the chickens, though, practice them at home and in the presence of other distractions.
As with any dog training routine, you will likely learn commands at home and then practice them in a variety of environments. Practice these commands in places with lots of distractions until you are sure that you can get your dog’s attention no matter what.
If your dog goes after one of your chickens, you need to be able to get your dog’s attention and get them to ignore the chickens.
Prepare To Introduce Your Dog To The Chickens
Once you are confident in your dog’s ability to listen to your commands in the face of distractions, you will need to prepare your dog for meeting your chickens. Before introducing your dog to your chickens, you should thoroughly exercise your dog. Take them for an extra-long walk, a trip to the dog park, or play with them for a while. The more tired they are, the less likely they will be to go after or attack your chickens.
Once you know that your dog is tired, you can introduce them to your chickens. At this point in the process, your dog should not have direct access to the chickens. Instead, you should introduce them with a barrier in place. A perfect situation would be to keep your chickens on one side of a fence with your dog on the other side. With this setup, your dog can see and smell the chickens without being able to touch them.
While your dog is in the presence of your chickens, you should practice the obedience commands that we suggested in the previous section. Make sure that you can bring your dog’s attention away from the chickens and onto you.
Finally, if your dog shows any aggression toward the chickens and ignores your commands, bring them inside immediately and don’t reward the behavior. On another day, you can try to introduce them through a fence again. Try to extend the time that they spend together by a little bit each time you try.
Keep a fence between your chickens and dog until you know that you can get your dog’s attention and you know that they won’t go after the chickens.
Introduce Your Dog To The Chickens
Now that you know that your dog is familiar with your chickens and will pay attention to you, you can remove the barrier between them. The first few times that you introduce your dogs to your chickens, keep them on a leash. That way, your dog can smell the chickens and get close to them while you are still in control of the situation.
While you have your dog on a leash in the presence of your chickens, practice your obedience commands some more. Again, the goal is for your dog to listen to your commands even when they could be distracted by your chickens.
You should be working toward a point where your dog mostly ignores your chickens while they are together. Keep your dog on a leash until you get to this point. Once you are confident that your dog won’t bother your chickens, you can let them be off-leash around the chickens. Make sure that you carefully supervise them together for the first few times they are together.
At this point, you likely feel comfortable leaving your dog and chickens alone together with minimal supervision. Remember to always be alert when they are together. Even if you don’t carefully supervise every interaction, you should keep tabs on your animals. If you notice the slightest irregular attitude from your dog or notice them getting overexcited, it may be best to intervene and remove your dog from the situation.
Be ready to intervene or give commands if it gets to a point where it looks like your dog will attack. Even though you have thoroughly and properly trained your dog for these interactions, remember that they are still a dog. Dogs have an instinct to chase or attack animals like chickens.
It is always a possibility that your dog will ignore their training to attack your chicken. Be ready to give your dog a command or physically block them to stop what they are doing in case this happens.
Dog Breeds That Don’t Like Chickens
Before starting the process of introducing your dog to your chickens, you may want to consider the intuitive tendencies and attitudes that your dog might have toward chickens due to their breed. As we have stated before, certain dogs that have a high prey drive might be more inclined to chase, attack, or hurt your chickens.
Some dog breeds that generally have a high prey drive include border collies, German shepherds, Siberian huskies, and greyhounds. Each of these dog breeds has certain characteristics that make it hard for them to leave small animals alone. Some of these dogs are easily excitable with too much strength while some were bred to chase animals.
Of course, individual dogs in these breeds may be compatible with your chickens. Even if you have one of these breeds, you can try to introduce them to your chickens. Just be aware that your dog may not be able to successfully be around them.
Dog Breeds That Get Along Well With Chickens
There are certain breeds that in general have a low or nonexistent prey drive, making them perfect dogs to get along with chickens. This is not to say that you won’t need to train your dog to be around chickens if you have one of these breeds. Any dog that is being introduced to a new animal needs to be carefully trained. However, certain dog breeds may have an easier time during training and when meeting the chickens.
Dog breeds that generally get along well with chickens include Anatolian shepherds, old English sheepdogs, Great Pyrenees, Maremma sheepdog, and Akbash.
About THE AUTHOR
I have had dogs my whole life and have always trained my own dogs with patience and positive reinforcement. My dogs are my life. My family always had dogs growing up. I've trained dogs for clients while working at a local dog daycare. I hope that my research and experiences are helpful to you as I share them here.Read More About Russell Wright