Dealing With A New Puppy And Your Chickens

Free Ranging and Training Chickens...

“Greetings, We really enjoy your newsletter, keep them coming! We have a new batch of chicks and find ourselves the owners of a new puppy too. We never intended to have all of these little animals at the same time but she (the puppy) needed a home and we just couldn’t say no, so here we are.

Our first batch of chickens we purchased at point of lay and our other dog is really old. He didn’t seem to care about the chickens and left them alone.

This new puppy seems awfully interested in both the first batch of chickens as well as the chicks. How do we acclimate everyone? Our chickens roam the property and we’d hate to have to cage them in. Looking forward to hearing from you” ~ Darlene Lane

Hi Darlene,

Thanks for writing.

I chose your question this week because it really hits close to home. You see, this week we have added a new dog to our family; a 1 year old pit-bull/mastiff mix. His name is Franklin and he’s a big old goofy, lovable dog.

However, Franklin’s manners still need some work and I’m getting blisters on my hands from trying to leash train him because he’s STRONG!

He had a really good start before he came to us but he still needs work.

He’s also way too interested in our alpaca herd.

Franklin will need a lot of attention in the coming weeks if he is to remain with us.

I tell you all of this to point out that any new addition to your life, be it four legged or two, will require a commitment from you to make it work.

You’ll need to closely supervise your puppy with both the chicks as well as with the older flock.

When the puppy is with the chicks, do not let her get her mouth on them, even if it’s just to play.

First of all, chicks are very fragile and she could kill them before you know it.

Secondly, once a dog kills a chicken, it’s a very hard habit to break.

Also, if she’s a larger breed dog, her big paws could really do some damage as well.

It is best to have the puppy around the chicks so that she gets used to them but she should only be in their vicinity, she should not have direct contact with them.

As the chicks get older and stronger, allow your puppy a little more access but you’ll still need to closely supervise her. If her behavior is anything but gentle and appropriate, you’ll need to correct her.

I’ll leave the form of correction up to you but whatever you choose, it needs to be unpleasant enough to teach the puppy that the chickens are not toys.

When it comes to the older flock, there is a possibility that the birds will do the training for you.

Assuming the chickens are larger than the puppy, a well placed peck can send a dog scurrying to the corner.

The message is clear though, don’t mess with the chickens!

However, if you don’t have at least one chicken (usually a rooster) with the nerve to put the puppy in its place, you’ll have to do the work.

Again, you’ll need to closely supervise the puppy but in this case, you’re going to do it from a little further away.

If loud noises startle the puppy, a tin can full of rocks loudly shaken at just the right time might discourage your puppy from messing with the flock.

A well aimed garden hose can cause just enough surprise to make the puppy think twice when the thought of playing with the flock crosses her mind.

The point here is to correct the puppy from afar so that she doesn’t associate you with the negative experience but thinks it is directly linked to her behavior with the flock.

You’ll need to decide what is and is not acceptable behavior. Do you want her to steer clear of the flock all together or can she nicely visit with them?

Plan on putting aside some time for training your puppy, you’ll need to make this a priority until you feel completely comfortable that your puppy will use her manners when interacting with the flock.

Well, I’m off to do some more work with Franklin. It’s time to start teaching him that the alpaca are to be admired from afar. I think I’ll start with the “jet” setting on the garden hose and go from there.

I hope this has been of help Darlene, best of luck.

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