So you have a dog but you also really want chickens. But what about the family dog? How will it react to your new feathered flock. Don’t despair there is hope!
Dogs and chickens can get along just splendidly if introduced correctly. Some people even use dogs to protect their flock from predators such as foxes. Here is some simple advice for making the transition from canine only to canine and chicken without any major dramas.
The best of course is to introduce your dog as a puppy, but if you have an adult already, follow these steps:
Step 1: Establish Who’s Incharge In Your House
The most important thing to remember when introducing your dog to your chickens is your relationship with your dog. If you have a mutually respectful relationship, the meeting will go much better since your dog will be following your lead. One of the best ways to establish this relationship is through training. All dogs can be trained with lots of patience and consistency.
Step 2: Prepare Your Dog And Chickens
Once you’ve established a strong bond with your dog, it is time to prepare your dog for meeting your chickens. Preparing your dog to meet the chickens is quite simple… Take your dog for a nice long walk or a run before you initiate the meeting. A well-exercised dog is a calm, happy dog and that is exactly the type of dog you want meeting your flock.
Also make sure to have your dogs favourite treats on hand for the meeting. Allow your chickens a few days to adjust and get used to their new environment before doing a meet and greet.
Step 3: Initiate The Introduction
Introducing your dog to your flock doesn’t have to be as scary as it sounds. If you prepare properly and have some precautions in place, everything should go smoothly. Make sure your chickens have adjusted before initiating the introduction.
The first thing you will have to do is put your dog on a short leash. The leash will give you some control. Walk your dog over to the chicken pen and ask it to sit by the fence.
Allow it to watch the chickens and then distract it with a nice treat or a favourite toy to break the predatory stare. Comfort your dog often and reward it for calming down. Once your dog relaxes and you feel comfortable, you can pick up a chicken for your dog to sniff. Only do this if your dog calms down enough to listen to you. If your dog remains stressed, take it away and reinitiate contact again the next day until your dog calms down and gets bored with the chickens.
Step 4: Outside Meet And Greet
The next step in your introduction is the free-range meet and greet. You can allow your chickens out into the yard and have your dog on a short leash. Let the chickens settle and do their thing while you walk your dog between them. Allow your dog to sniff them and interact with them whenever there’s an opportunity. Once your dog loses interest, play a game outside around the chickens and feed everyone some delicious treats.
Step 5: The Offleash Meet And Greet
Once everyone calms down, you can let your dog off leash. Keep close in case something goes wrong but let them interact freely. If your dog stops paying attention to the chickens and goes off to do its own thing, you can try some unsupervised interaction. If nothing goes wrong, you won the initial battle!
Keep in mind that dogs are predators. Just because nothing went wrong today doesn’t mean it will never go wrong in the future, Keep an eye on the interactions between your dog and the flock and be ready to jump in if there’s ever a problem.
Now that this bridge has been crossed and new friends were made, you can relax into your normal routine. Remember to reprimand any predatory behaviour towards your chickens and reward calm behaviour. Your dog will soon learn that being nice to the chickens means extra yummy snacks!