How to Introduce a Dog to Pet Chickens

It is possible to keep chickens and dogs living alongside each other without either fighting or injuring the other. Over time, the two will form a bond, and will be able to live in harmony. But first, they need to get to know each other. To make this happen safely, you have to be cautious and prepared.

Steps

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    Make sure the chickens are in a secure and relaxed environment before you bring the dog to them.
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    Bring the dog out on a lead, and make sure you have some treats for it. When approaching the chicken run, keep a tight grip on the lead.
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    Let the dog have a sniff around the chicken run, keeping it on its lead. If the dog doesn't react towards the chickens, give it a treat. If the dog does react, say "ah-ah", and walk away, making sure the chickens are out of sight. Do not reward the dog for the bad behaviour.
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    Repeat introducing the dog to the chickens on a lead until the dog doesn't react to the chickens. Once this has been completed, let the chickens out of the cage so they can wander around. Keep the dog on the lead at all times. If the dog doesn't react to the chickens, give it a treat. If it does react, say "ah-ah" and walk away, making sure the chickens are out of sight.
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    Continue introducing the dog to the chickens until the dog is comfortable with the chickens' presence. This step will require two people. Pick a chicken that is completely comfortable being handled. While person A holds the chicken, person B holds the lead of the dog. Person A needs to be cuddling and talking to the chicken in a soft, soothing voice; this will let the dog know that the chicken is a friend. If the dog reacts in a bad way (pulling on its lead and trying to get to the chicken, barking, growling, hackles raised), then say "ah-ah" and remove the dog from the situation.
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    Introduce the dog to the chickens with a longer lead until the dog is happy. Slowly extend the lead so the dog has more freedom. If the dog tries to chase the chickens or act aggressively, say "ah-ah" and remove the dog.
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    Continue introducing the dog with a longer lead until it is comfortable. Once you are fully comfortable and happy that the dog has accepted the chickens, you can let him off his lead. Keep a lookout for any discomfort in the dog or chickens that could indicate a change in behaviour. Remember, you know your dog; if you feel or think that something bad might happen, remove the dog from the situation. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Tips

  • Make sure you have treats for both the dog and chickens. Animals are at their most relaxed when eating, but don't give the chickens anything, the dog may get jealous over.

Warnings

  • Never leave your dog and chickens unsupervised when both are out together.
  • Introducing a dog to chickens and both animals being comfortable together, can take up to months, depending on the dog.
  • Some breeds of dogs are more suitable to accepting other animals in their territory such as Labradors. Other breed, such as terriers may not be suited to living with chickens and may take a considerable amount of time, longer to accept chickens.

Article Info

Categories: Chickens | Dog Obedience