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  • Writer's pictureToby

Dogs and chickens

We are very blessed to live in Central West NSW. More and more, families are wanting to return to nature. This often includes growing our own vegetables and purchasing chickens to lay free range eggs. Parents are getting the children involved in helping care for the chickens and collecting the eggs. This can be a wonderful thing but this dream can be instantly shattered if our dog happens to attack or kill one of the chickens.

The sad fact is that most dogs will chase animals that run around and make noise - given the opportunity. Some breeds may chase more (like our herding breeds) or our terriers (who are bred to chase and kill vermin). They don't necessarily want to harm the chickens but it doesn't take much for over- arousal to result in injury or death to the chickens.

Some considerations for adding chickens to the family:

  • Keep your dog and the chickens separate from the outset

  • Set your chicken coop area up as far away from your dog's house area as possible

  • Make sure your dog can't dig under or jump over the wire into the coop

  • Block the coop with tin or shade cloth so your dog can't see the chickens

  • Train some good manners behaviours like sit, down and/or leave it without distractions

  • Put your dog on a lead when introducing to the chickens and have your treats handy

  • Ask your dog for some known behaviours that you can reward - instead of chasing the chickens

  • Bring your dog closer to the chickens as he can listen to you and perform known behaviours

  • Ensure your dog's other needs are being met including attention, enrichment, sleep and good diet

  • Provide your dog with other outlets and fun activities that build relationships like nose work, agility or dog parkour

Manage the environment carefully and never leave your dog alone with the chickens. Once a dog starts chasing chickens (or horses), he will likely want to do it again. It becomes a habit and habits can be hard to break. Cheers, Toby xx


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