Getting a dog.... does it work?

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Getting a dog.... does it work?

Postby eae » Tue Mar 13, 2018 9:30 am

My 14yo son has been desperately begging for a dog for a year now, and we've said no on the grounds that we don't want our chickens to be eaten or harrassed. We've got about 16 adult chickens and 6 around 14 weeks. We have a 2.5 acre property and don't pen the chickens up at all. In summer we have chicks around the place, that get let out with mother hen from about 2-3 weeks. Our 3 cats give all the birds a very wide berth :D

Is it possible to have chickens and a dog live in harmony, without constant supervsion? Life is busy enough right now and I don't want to sign on for more work, i.e. having to pay attention when the dog is outside, listen for drama etc. My husband and I would be devastated if a dog killed or injured any of our birds. It would be worst case scenario given that I'm sure our sons would have already become very attached to a dog that I'd then want to then re-home. Given the choice, we'd prefer a small dog, but it seems that most of them are related to terriers, which I would expect would be asking for trouble with chickens.

So, am I mistaken in my belief that this would be asking for trouble, or can it actually work?
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Re: Getting a dog.... does it work?

Postby wolga » Tue Mar 13, 2018 10:29 pm

Yes that works no problem. We have two dogs and both are very protective about the chickens.
But you need to put in quite a bit of work and training to make sure they understand that the
chickens are part of the family. Also make sure you get a dog with a very low prey drive. There
are many breeds that are just amazing with stock and farm animals.
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Re: Getting a dog.... does it work?

Postby eae » Wed Mar 14, 2018 10:31 am

Thanks, Wolga -- that's the term I was looking for "low prey drive". Now I know what to investigate. I'm not neccesarily opposed to a dog and I think it would be good for my son, but I really, really don't want to disrupt our currently very happy poultry haven.
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Re: Getting a dog.... does it work?

Postby Marina » Thu Mar 15, 2018 2:05 pm

I Know plenty of people who have a dog and chickens and the dog runs among the chickens without even causing them to be upset. As Wolga says - it's all about choosing the right dog. People I know went for a puppy who was raised on a farm and had already learnt that poultry are not to be chased. Do your homework properly and don't be tempted by a good deal - wait for the right dog or puppy to become available.
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Re: Getting a dog.... does it work?

Postby eae » Thu Mar 15, 2018 8:25 pm

That's exactly what I'd be looking for, Marina, just another animal roaming around and all of them getting along for the most part. From what I've been reading, there are breeds you can aim toward, but it depends so much on the individual dog, which is hard to tell until you've got them. We're looking for something quite small, ideally. I'll keep my reading :)
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Re: Getting a dog.... does it work?

Postby Kracka » Tue Mar 27, 2018 4:39 pm

personally I would probably avoid the terrier type group
I've got Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and they're not 100% trustworthy, but pretty good - mine walk in amongst chickens, ducks & turkeys, but its best if they don't shriek and flap and run away (quiet large birds, like Orpingtons are good)
I've just had a litter of puppies and have made an effort to expose them to the poultry from early on (used a few 'stand their ground' roosters as the first ones to meet, so the experience wasn't horrible, but they didn't get to chase anything either) - so far so good, but it doesn't help when they find some half grown Leghorns who shriek and flap at anything :evil:
First introductions are better on lead, so you have control - train and reward for ignoring the chickens, if things get too excited, the lead is there to stop them. It does take time, but that's your son's job & he needs to understand he has to put the time in to get it right!
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Re: Getting a dog.... does it work?

Postby llvonn » Tue Apr 03, 2018 12:31 am

Hi, I have a border terrier and he is fine with the chickens. He can walk through them without any reaction whatsoever - he does not chase them or harass them in any way. He was also not raised with the chickens as they arrived after he did. However, I think I lucked out in regards to having a very responsible rooster. I happened to be out in my garden and saw my dog stalking the hens. The hens ran away, but the rooster (a silkie who was much smaller than my dog and always reminded me of a British Colonel from the Napoleonic Wars) ran at him, wings outstretched and pecked him on the nose (this all happened before I could do anything). The result - my dog turned tail and ran away. No problems with the chickens since. The rooster had to be rehomed because he was a prolific crower and really needed to be in a more rural area. At another time I watched as a small chick (fully feathered but still tiny) wandered into the house and tried to steal the chicken thigh from my dogs mouth. My dog did not respond at all. I personally could not believe the nerve of the chick.
A few years ago, some friends were helping me out and their tiny little bichon frise started chasing the chickens. As this started in the back yard, out of immediate site, I raced to see what was going on and to my disgust discovered the rooster was at the head of the pack running away from the dog. What makes this even worse is that the dog was so much smaller than the rooster involved.
My friend also has a dog that is a known chicken killer. He is a mixed breed that came from a rescue organisation. I believe that he is a mixture of the following (corgi, shih tzu, spaniel). Initially he was not a problem with the chickens but he was allowed to herd them. I believe that this was the starting point that led to him killing one.

When it comes to dogs, what it really comes down to is training. My friends dogs do have training gaps, as does mine, but I definitely believe that training is the most important thing when it comes to dogs and the interaction with other animals. I do know however, that I am far stricter with my dog and his training than my friends. My dog also gets a lot of exercise - usually an hour walk off lead a night (although he is on lead in certain areas where he can not be trusted to return when called - usually the picnic area where people drop food.
You have to be consistent and think carefully about how early behaviour may affect future behaviour - for example - herding lead to hunting. Although my dog is great with the chickens I will not let him around newly hatched chicks. Dogs investigate with their mouths and that can be lethal for the chicks, additionally chicks are fluffy - that can be likened to small furry creatures that I am happy for my dog to hunt. For that reason, I won't risk it.

Breed can give general guidelines but they are not set in stone. As above my dog is a terrier and I believe that he is fine around my chickens. The training early on is the biggest job and for it to be done right the entire family needs to buy in, understand the rules and be consistent. Most problems with dogs are due to training. What is cute behaviour in a puppy is not so cute when they are adults. Additionally, despite what it appears the dog will not be a fully adult dog until 3 years of age. After 6 months they may look like a fully grown dog, but they are going through their teenage rebellious time (hence why so many dogs end up in shelters at these ages), and like many teenagers will push the limits, manipulate and generally push every button you have. Be aware of that. Also, Your son is 14 - in a few years will be leaving school, possibly home - what will happen to the dog then? The big question, are you wanting to have a dog for the next 13-16 years (possible life stage of a small dog). As Nigel Latta said raising a dog is just like raising a child.

Sorry if I am coming across as preachy, but I see so many dogs end up in shelters - because people do not want to put the work in early on.
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Re: Getting a dog.... does it work?

Postby eae » Tue Apr 03, 2018 3:19 pm

You don't sound preachy at all.. everything you wrote it useful information. I'm still on the fence about the whole thing, as I really don't want to upset the apple cart.. but have been spending a little time carefully thinking about the reasons why we were/are saying no, just to make sure they are actually sound, rather than more parental hot air.
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Re: Getting a dog.... does it work?

Postby llvonn » Tue Apr 03, 2018 10:33 pm

Can I ask why you specifically want a small dog? Alot of people tend to think that small dogs must be easier but that is not necessarily the case. You can get large dogs that are relatively low maintenance and require far less exercise than some smaller dogs. Energy level is probably one issue that should be looked at. At the top end of the scale - Border collies and huskies have very high energy needs (hence often end up at shelters)
My dog (border terrier) is currently 11.1/2 and he still gets an hour walk a night, rain or shine (Unless there is thunder and lightning-safety issue). Dog behaviour issues can often be put down to a lack of training, a lack of consistency and a lack of exercise. Honestly, the difference in my dogs behaviour before I I started the longer walks and now was a massive shock.
I am lucky in that my dog does not roll in horrible, smelly items located on walks, nor does he eat cow poop (or any other poop for that matter), but many dogs do. Do you have somewhere to thoroughly wash a dog. My dog's coat is pretty easy - but a coat similar to a golden retriever would make it a massive job - and take forever to dry.
If you look online at dog intelligence they will often put border collies at the top of the list. I disagree with that. They use speed in following directions as a mark of intelligence. My dog knows what what his commands are - but if disobeying a command has its own reward (like finding sausages in the BBQ area at the local park) - obedience be damned. He is not unintelligent - he is just selective about which commands he follows.Dogs are extremely good at training their humans and do it very subtly.,

If you want a really good idea of what owning a dog is like (with a laugh alongside it) - have a look at off the leash - if you choose to get a dog - welcome to your future http://offtheleashdogcartoons.com/category/off-the-leash-dog-cartoons/#.WsNJri5uapo
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