training a dog around chickens...

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8 years 10 months ago #39724 by bb
Ok, I'm ready for all advice from people with experience of this.
Here are the facts so far: I have a 5yo dog, a Cesky Fousek (hunting breed, never been trained to hunt or taken hunting, but obviously bred to). Very submissive temperament. She is friendly with ALL dogs, ALL people and all other animals so far: the family cat, and our 3 goats with whom she plays daily. She used to regularly walk Western Springs, lots of ducks, swans and geese, and learned quickly to leave them alone. She will very occasionally chase a weka where we holiday, but usually doesn't, she knows she's not supposed to. Has never got near enough to catch one.
Now we have chickens. I would like to free-range them. The dog is not outside on her own, only when we are also there, but it's a very large area so if I can't train her to keep away from them, free-ranging is just not going to happen. So far I spend a lot of time in the chicken coop and run, she waits outside; I have told her not to get close and she knows to sit a couple of meters away when I open doors/gates etc. but she is obviously VERY interested. When the chickens first arrived she used to point and get the shakes. Her instinct was unbelievable, it was like she didn't know what to do with herself. She is a lot calmer now, 6 weeks on, but is obviously going to need some serious 'guidance'.
What is the best way to start? I have some ideas but would love anyone's input. I'd really like to start right...

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8 years 10 months ago #507646 by charlotte1
No ideas really for you, but I did a google on your breed of dog. Wow they are gorgeous. I have a border collie who I thought would round up the chickens, she has done a little stock work, however the worst she would do when little was run through the chickens and make them scatter rather than chase them. She knew it was wrong and soon got over it. Like you dog is not around chickens unsupervised, so keep a close eye, even a long lead if recall/obedience is a problem.

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8 years 10 months ago #507653 by lindee
We have a bull terrier/grayhound cross that was supposedly bred for hunting, but was abandonned at the SPCA at nine weeks because he was scared of loud noises (and just about everything else). :rolleyes:
As a pup he would try to chase the chooks - always supervised, and an abrupt 'leave' would deter him. I held one of the more user-friendly chooks for him to sniff and investigate, then put chook on the ground in front him with 'sit' and 'leave' commands (Edit: for the dog not the chook). He learnt quickly to leave the chooks alone, and the chooks learnt quickly that he was quite a scaredy-pup and occasionally would rush at him to move him away. (We didn't let him see us laughing at that). :D
He's now almost 5years and happily cruises around the backyard with the chooks - he's even decided it's his job to chase the sparrows away from the chook food.

It's not denial. I'm just selective about the reality I accept. ;)

One Bull Terrier/Greyhound X, one very full-on Huntaway X pup, four assorted felines, [strike]nine[/strike] thirteen assorted hens, two accidental roos, two adorable BaabeeDoll sheep.

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8 years 10 months ago #507656 by Sue
A friend of mine has just trained her Lab puppy to stop chasing her chickens, under the advice of her obedience trainer. Put some staples or nails in a plastic bottle and when the dog goes for the birds rattle the bottle and shout no, and if needed throw the bottle the dogs way, just to give it a fright. It didn't take long for the pup to stop whatever it was doing at the shake of the bottle!

Sue
Labrador lover for yonks, breeder of pedigree Murray Grey cattle for almost as long, and passionate poultry person for more years than I care to count.

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8 years 10 months ago #507660 by bb
Thanks guys, I'm taking it all in. I guess I'm confident I can control her when I'm right there. I have called her off weka etc. in the past and she responds. What I worry about is that she would try when I'm not looking if she knows the punishment (growl, noise etc) comes from me.... She's pretty smart, and cheeky... Thoughts ?

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8 years 10 months ago #507666 by tonic
I think you need to spend time with her around/amoungst the chickens, on lead if need be. Any sign of looking interestedly at them is growled, or given a command she knows like no or leave. You can even carry treats and reward her when she remains focused on you not the chickens. She needs enough time for the reality that focussing on the chickens is forbidden and ignoring them is rewarded to become ingrained.

As an aside, as someone who has had dogs with a strong hunt instinct I would say that any dog allowed to run about and play with a prey animal (goats) is a death waiting to happen. Play for dogs is hunt practice - chase and catch is a basic instinct. If you allow her to do that with your goats then you are really encouraging hunt behavior with them. I know it looks like harmless fun, but practicing hunt instincts with prey is a recipe for disaster...

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8 years 10 months ago #507668 by llvonn
I have a border terrier - high prey instinct. One good peck on the nose by a silkie rooster was enough to cure him of the habit. I reinforced this with some treat training and leave it command.
I can not however get him to leave chicks alone - they are too fluffy, but once they develop feathers they are fine.

1 Border Terrier, 5 hens, 5 chicks, an orchard and vege garden. All on 350 square metres.

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8 years 10 months ago #507675 by Andrea1
We've trained all our dogs to leave the chooks alone. Some breeds are more keen to give chase (terriers!), and other just don't give a toss from the get-go. We've always done frequent exposure to the chooks alone with the command 'leave it'. Any interest in things we don't want them interested in gets that command, and for a reward (when they are first learning) is a cat biscuit. I carry a container of cat biscuits on me and shake it just to get their attention (we have 3 dogs, a Standard Schnauzer, a JR/Foxy/Cairn X, and a mini Schnauzer puppy, 11 weeks old). Sometimes they get a treat, sometimes they don't. They always come, though! If the dog is slow in learning, we have a long-line attached to the collar, and the 'leave it' command is given with a sharp tug on the long line. This also helps with the 'come' command.

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8 years 10 months ago #507730 by wttmf
Leash and prong collar or if you have access electric collar. Timing of the correction is key. And with ALL dog training - consistency, fairness and leadership.

Or old school - a piece of alkathine pipe.

I prefer the former, hitting dogs is not good dog training.

This is called extinguishing a behavior, its not like teaching a dog to sit or to come.
Its teaching a dog that the behavior cannot happen EVER period. Like kiwi aversion training.

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8 years 10 months ago #507745 by bb

wttmf;514373 wrote:
This is called extinguishing a behavior, its not like teaching a dog to sit or to come.
Its teaching a dog that the behavior cannot happen EVER period. Like kiwi aversion training.

Thanks wttmf, yes I agree which is why I am asking the question. I know I can stop her chasing the chickens etc if I'm around, I can teach her that 'I' don't like it, but I need more than that, so I have been thinking electric collar also. I think people are going to jump on me and say that's a last resort and that I shouldn't do that unless I have a problem, but it seems to me inevitable that I will if the deterrent isn't strong enough to start with, so why wait for her to get a real taste of it...? Happy for people to disagree with me and give me alternatives though...

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8 years 10 months ago #507748 by bb

tonic;514302 wrote: I think you need to spend time with her around/amoungst the chickens, on lead if need be. [...] She needs enough time for the reality that focussing on the chickens is forbidden and ignoring them is rewarded to become ingrained.

As an aside, as someone who has had dogs with a strong hunt instinct I would say that any dog allowed to run about and play with a prey animal (goats) is a death waiting to happen. Play for dogs is hunt practice - chase and catch is a basic instinct. If you allow her to do that with your goats then you are really encouraging hunt behavior with them. I know it looks like harmless fun, but practicing hunt instincts with prey is a recipe for disaster...

Thanks tonic for the advice, makes a lot of sense. I am interested in your second point though and have been thinking about it a lot and watching my dog and goats. What you say sounds reasonable, however the way my dog is around the goats is completely different to how she is around chickens or other birds or rats. I can see she has a strong instict to hunt: she points, she stays still, she watches, she pounces, she sprints. With the goats her behaviour is identical to playing with other dogs on the beach: she bounces side to side, head down bum up, wagging her tail, then running off in big circles and coming back to do more bouncing and teasing. It is completely different and doesn't look anything like hunting practice to me. But I may be wrong... ?

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8 years 10 months ago #507772 by wttmf

bb;514389 wrote: Thanks wttmf, yes I agree which is why I am asking the question. I know I can stop her chasing the chickens etc if I'm around, I can teach her that 'I' don't like it, but I need more than that, so I have been thinking electric collar also. I think people are going to jump on me and say that's a last resort and that I shouldn't do that unless I have a problem, but it seems to me inevitable that I will if the deterrent isn't strong enough to start with, so why wait for her to get a real taste of it...? Happy for people to disagree with me and give me alternatives though...

Used correctlly electic collars are a great training aid, one of the mistakes people make is to put it on the dog ONLY when they are going to use it.The dog works out pretty fast to only pay attention when collar is on. The dog must first be conditioned to it by taking it on and off many times a day for weeks without ever stimulating the dog.
And get a quality one like Dogtra/ tritonics, they cheap ones are not consistant in the stimulation levels and this is unfair to the dog.

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8 years 10 months ago #507781 by tonic

bb;514392 wrote: Thanks tonic for the advice, makes a lot of sense. I am interested in your second point though and have been thinking about it a lot and watching my dog and goats. What you say sounds reasonable, however the way my dog is around the goats is completely different to how she is around chickens or other birds or rats. I can see she has a strong instict to hunt: she points, she stays still, she watches, she pounces, she sprints. With the goats her behaviour is identical to playing with other dogs on the beach: she bounces side to side, head down bum up, wagging her tail, then running off in big circles and coming back to do more bouncing and teasing. It is completely different and doesn't look anything like hunting practice to me. But I may be wrong... ?

Those are good thoughts and only you can decide where you think it is going. Play between dogs though is a way to establish strength and dominance and to practice those things. Sure, they are having fun but do you ever see dogs playing where one doesn't try to push the other down? I would still be very unhappy about that prospect happening between a dog and a goat. One day she may push one down by grabbing its throat (normal play behaviour in dogs) and the resulting paniced goat response could easily trigger a bite. Or she may trip one and get the same response.

Its clear you are thinking things through carefully and responsibly so I am sure you will work out how best to help your girl adjust to farm life! :)

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8 years 10 months ago #507828 by maringi
Isn't it interesting that I have the same chick problem with my Springer Spaniel.? She's brilliant with the chooks, but can't resist the chicks.
I think it's something about their scuttling about movement.
Until recently we had an Italian Spinone (large timid hunting hound) who would eat the occasional chook when he was angry with me for some reason- such as going out for the second day without him! Typical hound getting revenge!

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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8 years 9 months ago #508846 by bb

tonic;514428 wrote: ... I would still be very unhappy about that prospect happening between a dog and a goat ... Its clear you are thinking things through carefully and responsibly so I am sure you will work out how best to help your girl adjust to farm life! :)

thanks Tonic for your advice, it has made me look at the whole interaction more closely. They still have playful exchanges but I have pulled the dog into line a few times when she has started to get a bit boisterous. So, yeah, it's always good to get another perspective on things :)

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