Pet Dogs & Keeping Chickens – Problems with Dogs and Chickens

Yellow Lab Dog- Dogs and ChickensAlthough written for those considering keeping chickens when they have a pet dog, or dogs, this article is just as applicable to those keeping other poultry such as ducks or geese.

One area of concern to prospective home chicken keeping is how the family dog will react. Are the chickens his friend or foe? By foe, I mean dinner.

A dog can present a serious risk to your hens. He can revert to his wolf ancestor in a flash and treat your prized chickens as prey. Don’t be fooled by his size, many smaller breeds of dog like terriers were actually bred for their hunting abilities.

Pack Leader

Luckily, domestic dogs generally want to please us, their pack leader, and will defend other members of the pack from threats. The trick is to let them know these newcomers, your new chickens, are members of the family and not ready meals.

When they first meet your chickens, keep your dog on a tight lead and your chickens behind wire. It’s a new experience for the dog, he will probably be excited and perhaps nervous. Your chickens may well suddenly flutter their wings, inciting the dog’s instinct to attack so be alert, calm and keep a grip on the lead, ready to hold him back.

Changing the Dog’s Behaviour

Often, once the excitement has died away, the dog will be fine with them and if he knows they’re your chickens, quite protective.

Training Dog Not to Attack Hens

Even if your dog does attack your chickens, all is not lost. It’s a matter of training. When a sheepdog is trained, what happens is that the pack hunting instinct is manipulated to heard the sheep for our benefit. The dog’s instinct is to kill one but he’s trained to suppress that and move them to command.

Dog Attacking Backyard Chickens

This clip from YouTube shows a dog that has killed a couple of his owners’ chickens being trained not to. It requires some psychology and patience but it can be done.

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