Training Your Dog to Accept Your Chickens February 21, 2014
Training your dog to accept your chickens can seem like a Herculean task! Dogs and chickens don’t always make a good combo, unfortunately. Some dogs want to eat your chickens, other dogs just want to give chase. Both can be bad; chickens who are trying desperately to get away from a chasing dog—even a dog who is just playing and would never actually bite them—can break their own necks or trample each other like a mob at a rock concert. But training your dog to accept your chickens is something many people do successfully.
When we wrote our book, the My Pet Chicken Handbook—have you entered our “Chicken Dream Prize” contest, yet, BTW?—we solicited a contribution from expert livestock guardian dog breeder and trainer Jackie Church of Windance Farms about how to train your dog to accept your chickens. Now I get to personally follow her advice!
Actually, I wonder if I’ll ever have my little dog off leash with my chickens? He’s not a Livestock Guardian breed; the King Charles Cavalier Spaniel is a companion breed. The real worry is that even once I get him to accept my flock, there would be too many other things for him to chase off down the mountain: chipmunks, squirrels, song birds… even butterflies and blowing leaves. We have no traffic, but getting lost in the woods is dangerous, too. Our exercise will be from daily hikes rather than outside off-leash play.
Still, even though he won’t be off-leash, I don’t want to have to wrestle him back every time he sees a chicken, so we’re proceeding with the advice of Ms. Church. The good news is that we got off to a good start, yesterday. It helps that he actually seems to show no interest in chasing anything larger than the size of a softball. He completely ignores our cats (who nonetheless seem befuddled from the new addition). The chickens, as well, he ignores… or at least he does so from a distance of 30 feet or so. However, his attitude may change as he gets more comfortable his new home, so we’re taking things very slowly.
So, I have the information about how to successfully train my dog to accept my chickens—and so far so good! But from those other dog owners out there, what book/s would you recommend for the (non-chicken-related) dog training? Do you have a favorite book to recommend, appropriate for a first time dog owner?