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Friday, July 1, 2011

Dog versus chickens

Result:

Dog - Likes chickens
Chickens - Not so much

I made the mistake last week of letting Paco (our new rescue Chihuahua mix) loose to run around our backyard and check things out. Now, our chickens are totally used to the neighborhood cats sitting and staring at them at close range (see picture at right), so I didn't think much about it. Of course, the chickens were in their enclosed coop and run, safe from any puppy rambunctiousness.

However, as he ran around the yard and eventually ran over to the run, the chickens went batshit crazy and, in an attempt to escape Paco (who is notably smaller than they are), they ended up slamming themselves into the side and roof of the run.

Okay, that wasn't so helpful. The next few times, I walked him around the yard on the leash and they were a little bit better. Since Sarah is in perpetual nesting mode (we're going to try water-boarding her this weekend), she didn't care, but Chloe was bagawking like a crazy lady.

I'm hoping they eventually get used to having him in the backyard since I'd like to be able to work out back and let him run around at the same time (while the chickens are in their run) without having to listen to a bunch of chicken bitching.

For those of you who have chickens and pets, how did you introduce them?

17 comments:

SurprisingWoman said...

Please don't waterboard your broody.

Put her in a cage where air can circulate around her completely if possible. Suspend it by a chain or rope and let her be in there all day. I didn't have a cage I could suspend so my broody stayed in a small cage that had been used for my guinea pig when I rescued it on the grass. She had food and water and some grass, that's it.

I had to do this to my chicken for probably five days before she was broken of being broody but it was successful.

I tried doing the water submersion before that and all it did was make her walk around shivering and cold and made me feel like a beast. She went right back to the nesting box and I tried it two days in a row! The water out of the hose in Utah is cold!

I couldn't keep her broody cage secure at night so I would put her back in the coop at night (where she would promptly go straight to the nesting box) and take her out in the morning and stick her back in her cage.

It's so much more humane to put them in isolation instead of water.

Mel said...

HI-larious (although I do not believe I actually BOL'd (Bagawked Out Loud)). Please post pictures of chicken waterboarding, as well as a report on efficacy of said torture method. My next door neighbor has six chickens that they let out whenever they can (they watch them; otherwise, they all try to make a break for it). My Boston Terrier Posey is fascinated by them (I keep her on a leash when they are out), and they seem completely disinterested in her so far (I suppose if she was doing anything other than staring and sniffing they might react).

louisa @ TheReallyGoodLife said...

Our dog Lily - a gun dog breed, but not trained to hunt - frequently "went" for the chickens when we first got them. The chickens were raised to POL at a farm with a chicken-friendly dog wandering around so they weren't bothered by Lily but it scared us!

We just kept introducing her to them on a tight leash and told her off whenever she pulled towards them. Eventually she got the message that she wasn't to chase or try to eat them and now a year on, they potter around the garden together - Lily even nannies them to make sure they stay where they're supposed to be :)

The cats went through a similar process but quicker - realising they were neither a foe or food, and also pad around the garden with the birds. It's very cute :)

The Haphazard Countryman said...

A tight leash at first, and letting the chickens come up to the dog and let the dog sniff around. All the time saying, "It's OK." Slowly let the leash out as the dog was around the chickens and then letting the dog go while the chickens were in the run. Now our dog goes running past them at full speed and they don't flinch, and the dog goes after the wild rabbits instead.

cschaub01 said...

I'm still trying to figure out why a broody chicken is a bad chicken?

Donna said...

Our dog was 9 months old when we got our chickens. They are ok with each other as long as they are in the coop and he's not. Rocky sits at the coop and watches them like tv. I'm pretty sure if they were out he would eat them.

equa yona(Big Bear) said...

"Chicken bitching" that's too funny!

Anonymous said...

The water bath method is not the best . To break her from being broody you will have to separate her from the other hens in a cage that is open on the bottom so air can circulate around her to cool her down any where from 3-7 days . Do not let her sit in the egg boxes and keep her away from the other hens .

Brad K. said...

@ cschaub01,

Just guessing here -- but a brooding hen (sitting on eggs for the twenty-some days until they hatch) follows a different routine. Short stretches away from the nest to eat and drink, otherwise concentrating on keeping those eggs warm.

Laying eggs don't happen during this time.

If you have no roosters, and/or gather all the eggs every day, that broody hen is an example of confused hormone cycles (brooding, instead of accumulating eggs to later, when they reach "enough", to brood/hatch). I suspect the 'open air' is to diffuse the self-perpetuating "broody" hormones, to break the cycle.

I am pretty sure the "waterboarding" threat was symbolic of keeper frustration with a laying hen that is on vacation. So to speak.

No chickens were harmed in the making of this post. Yet. I hope.

Greenpa said...

"how did you introduce them"

Always under full control (leash), and very slowly. Wait for whichever side is freaking to stop freaking before you move them closer. Only take the leash off when both sides are bored.

It takes time, a fair amount; but avoids an awful lot of hassles later. Louisa got it right.

Haphazard: "All the time saying, "It's OK." - or some key phrase like that.

We actually take it one step further, and use a word I haven't heard other dog folk go to. On the belief that dogs understand far more of our language than generally given credit for. When we introduced our free range farm dogs (off leash 24/7 except for special events) to the new chickens, and the new sheep, we say "Family!" which is the same word we use for, well, family. The chickens, guys, are supposed to be part of our tribe; and it's part of your job to protect them, not fuss them up.

I have no real idea if it works; but the dogs wander freely through the chickens with no anxiety from the chickens.

Alexis E. said...

Our dogs are interested in the chickens but they know their place. I have a guide dog in training (lab), a therapy dog in training/pet (Golden) and a Jack/Boston mix. They have all gotten into the chicken yard at one point but recall is a valuable tool for a dog. Once a dog has good recall, and is obedient, they won't hurt your chickens.

Robj98168 said...

Whilw I dont have Chicks, Romeo has met chicks. Romeo Likes Chicks. Romeo doen't like goats however.Small hoves and smell like cabbage I suppose.

Green Bean said...

Yes, our chickens could care less about the cats. In fact, our top hen, Serena, will totally kick a cat's a$$! We brought home a shelter dog in March and he tried to eat Serena - which I understand because she is a tasty little morsel.

Good luck with your broody. My broody, Puff, lasted 5-6 weeks last time. She then started laying again for a couple weeks, laid a GIANT double yolker and went broody again. I'm too lazy, though, to do anything about it.

Annie said...

We put our dog on a leash and let her enter the flock of chickens. When she started to pounce and chase we jerked the leash (she wears a harness... you wouldn't want to do that with a collar) and gave her our worst growling "bad dog". If she got over excited and even our scolding didn't work (which it normally does since she has a serious urge to please) we gave her a swat or restrained her while giving her a scolding.

After a few days she wasn't interested in attacking the chickens so we let her off leash with supervision. She definitely got the message that chickens were not a snack although she did discover their feces which she loves to eat. Sometimes she follows them around sniffing their bums waiting for a snack to come out. We haven't been able to break her of this yet. It's not a problem for the chicken but seriously gross for us. Sometimes when she's bored she will run at a chicken and skid to a stop in front of it to make it squawk but never touches them. In fact, when the rooster was behind and adjacent fence she liked to provoke him and then put her face up against the fence so he'd peck her. Then she'd jump around in a playful way and come back for more pecking.

Kelli said...

We introduced our baby chicks to our corgi when the chicks were brand new - just held them close to him while talking sweetly to all of them. When we turned them loose outside, we walked him around them with a leash, then watched him carefully off the leash. We knew things would be okay when one of the chickens began chasing him. I would say he's second in the pecking order at this point. The head-hen Henrietta has let him know his place; I don't worry at all anymore.

Christine F. said...

Like Annie's dog, our dog is more interested in eating the chicken's poop then actually going after the chickens. When she was a puppy I put her on a leash and let her right into the coop when I was tending to the chickens. I would give her a stern "NO!" if she tried anything, but honestly she rarely did and I don't remember the chickens particularly freaking out either. A few times, when our dog is in a rare mood she has gotten all up in a hen's face and tried to get them to play and then has quickly given up and run away when the hen pecked at her face. We have a 66lb dog too! She is an Olde English Bulldogge though and very sweet tempered.

We have had a couple of hens over the years that have gone a bit broody and made that nasty hissing/smoke monster from LOST sound when we would try to collect eggs from the box they were occupying. All I would do is put on a pair of leather work gloves and take the eggs despite the angry hen sounds and pecks to the hand. Eventually they gave up and stopped protecting the eggs.

Let us know how it goes.

Anonymous said...

Right, we introduced the hens to the dog early on. And whenever the chickens go "batshit crazy" over anything that's not actually dangerous to them, I just distract them with food. A crust of bread, a handful of weeds from the garden... it doesn't take much. Eventually they got used to her.

The cat, on the other hand, sleeps with the chickens in the wintertime. They're buds.

Poor broody hens. We don't break them of it. We just don't leave them any eggs to sit on.

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