Keeping Dogs & Chickens

“Do you have any tips for helping the family dog with learning to leave the chickens alone? He’s a lab and has never been around chickens. We plan to get chicks in the spring and expose him to them right away with CLOSE supervision at all times. Thank You.” ~ Cathy Walsh

Cathy, I’m so glad you’re thinking ahead.

You are wise to be concerned about your dog but with proper steps, he and your chickens should do just fine together.

The easiest way to introduce dogs to chickens is when the dog is a puppy and the chickens are older. Dogs tend to do best when they have known no other way.

However, they are still trainable when they are older. You already know the key to training your dog; close supervision. I don’t know how many chicks you are getting but I’d recommend only introducing him to a few chicks at a time.

If he’s really excited he might step on them if there are too many.

Keep a good hold on him and give him lots of praise when he behaves himself. If he’s used to being rewarded with treats, by all means use treats.

On the other hand, if he doesn’t behave, you’ll have to give him some negative reinforcement.

Follow whatever method your family uses to let him know that he’s done something wrong.

He won’t know what is and isn’t okay so you have to be willing to do both the praising and the punishing.

Once a dog kills a chicken, even accidentally, it can be a very hard habit to break. For that reason, it’s imperative that your dog learns the rules straight away.

Depending on your dog’s personality and that of the chickens, you might just find that the dog ends up in submission to the chickens. At the very least, you should be able to create a situation in which they tolerate each other.

Thanks again for the question Cathy, good luck.

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