Backyard Poultry Forum

Can a dog be trained not to attack/eat hens? Tips & help!!
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Author:  aimzy14 [ Fri Nov 23, 2018 9:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Can a dog be trained not to attack/eat hens? Tips & help!!

We got our very first pullets yesterday and we have lost all three.
My 3yo daughter went to say “Good morning” to her chickies at 5am unbeknownst to her sleeping parents and opened the roosting area door and the dog grabbed our black chicken out and ate her (according to daughter but no evidence of this or anything to do with the missing chook) latches and padlocks attached immediately. Parenting fail!!
Then this afternoon when going out to pick up the kids, the dog tore the mesh off the end of the coop and killed the remaining two pullets. I am devastated, so please no hate for me. I am feeling enough guilt. Husband has just returned from a Bunnings with thicker stronger mesh to attach and reinforce the coop and some for the bottom too.
Before we replace the chickens and try again, is there anyway to train a dog to not go near the coop or chickens? My husband held the dead chook to her face while reprimanding and hitting her but we are unsure what else we can do? Will she always want the chickens now that she has had a taste of them? All help and advice wanted. (She is a two year old Jack Russell x Mini Foxy x Boarder Collie)
Please if you’re going to scold me - don’t...I am beating myself up enough and need to live with the guilt. I just want to try to make sure we do everything to avoid a repeat tragedy. Only help and advice please and thank you.

Author:  fuscipes [ Fri Nov 23, 2018 10:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Can a dog be trained not to attack/eat hens? Tips & help

Neither you or your dog are to blame. We can't foresee everything that might happen.
I have one dog which has killed one of my chooks many years ago but she is now fine with them and understands that they are off limits. The other dog has killed a number of chooks and can never be trusted and I believe he is virtually impossible to train not to kill chooks.
My view is the best option is to keep the chooks safely apart, growl at the dog every time she looks at the chooks (she will be thinking about attacking them and think that you can read her mind) and see how she progresses over time.

Author:  Okaru [ Sat Nov 24, 2018 11:48 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Can a dog be trained not to attack/eat hens? Tips & help

I'm sorry about what's happened.... :(
I agree with fuscipes. Some dogs might end up being ok and others not. We certainly hear about cases where they happily coexist.
Our dog's enclosure is separated from the chooks by only cyclone mesh. While they on separate sides, they happily interact, even getting up close and personal. (through the wire)..... On the very rare occasions that they have been on the same side of the fence, it has turned into a chasing fest. Nobody has been killed or injured, luckily, but I wouldn't trust him unsupervised with our chooks.

Let us know how it goes. :-)

Author:  70%cocoa [ Sun Nov 25, 2018 1:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Can a dog be trained not to attack/eat hens? Tips & help

What a horrible experience. I’m so sorry. We all know how easily these things can happen.

I would not bother trying to use a training solution here with your dog. Now that your dog has discovered how much fun it is to catch and kill birds it will be very difficult to train her to ignore them. Not impossible (if you and your husband educate yourselves about positive reinforcement and other modern training methods) but difficult. The only real way to address the problem is by securely fencing the chickens in so that there is no way your dog can get to them. You are doing that now, which is great. Ensure that you have strong, well attached mesh on all walls and the roof, and at least a 40cm skirt of strong mesh around the base of the walls (or, even better, covering the whole floor). This will also fox-proof your coop. If your dog could break into your chicken coop then you can be certain that a fox could also have broken into your chicken coop. It would only have been a matter of time before this happened, I’m sorry to say.

Please do not let your husband hit your dog. Unfortunately the only thing it will have taught your dog is that your husband is not to be trusted. In killing the birds your dog is simply being a normal dog. As I mentioned, it’d be worth reading up about modern training methods which don’t involve aversive treatment.

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