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The GREAT DOG and the egg sucker!

 
Tony Hill
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When we got our box of 30 chicks, temps were in the 20's so we set them up under a heat lamp inside an x- large dog crate in the family room. I used a large piece of 1/2"x1/2" wire mesh to keep them in. Eventually, I separated the top and bottom of the dog crate to double the floor space. Our wonderful German Shepherd, "Katie" took a keen interest in the fast-growing chicks. I allowed her to sniff them, but growled warnings that she had BETTER be very gentle with them. Once a chick jump suddenly, and Katie lunged, and everyone yelled at her instantly, and after that, she got the message- These were to be protected!

Once I was confident that she understood, I would let a chick or two out to test her. She would watch them carefully, almost with amusement in her eye, and if they got too far, she would herd them back to their pen with her nose. GOOD GIRL!

When the weather started warming, we would take the chicks outdoors on warmer afternoons. When we opened the door, the chicks would all come tumbling out. Strangely, Katie would sniff and nudge each one of them with her nose, like she was counting them... Hmmm... interesting. They would run around, peeping, pecking, plucking grass, having a good time. When it was time to round them up, Katie followed the same routine, sniffing each one, almost as if she were counting them. This was going better than I'd hoped!

As they got bigger, Katie became their loyal protector. She keeps EVERYTHING away from the chickens. We have found several dead animals, who no doubt were heading toward the coop. A stray dog came in our yard, and she was okay with him, until he headed toward the coop. She blocked his path, lowered her head with an intense, deadly gaze in his eyes, and rumbled a low growl. He got the message, and WOW, that was kind of scary, even to me!

I am confident that Katie is the reason we have not lost even a single bird. All 30.

But recently, something disturbing has taken place. Since our chickens are truly free-range, they tend to hide eggs sometimes, and sometimes when we find them, they float in water. So my wife has gotten in the habit of breaking any suspect eggs into Katie's bowl, over her dog food. Of course, she loves this!

But then, a few weeks ago, we noticed that we were getting fewer eggs, and NO eggs in any of the spots on the ground. All at once, and not during a cold snap. Hmmmm.... Winter lay off?

The next day, my wife happened to look out, and she saw Katie head toward the gray box, that usually has 2 eggs in it every day. A moment later, she reappeared, and my wife called her. Katie came, but with a guilty look. "What are you doing?" my wife asked. Katie leaned down and placed a big brown egg at her feet. She had been hiding it in her mouth!

My wife was stunned! It was warm and completely undamaged. She wasn't sure if she should scold Katie or praise her. A real head-scratcher! I told her to praise her for bringing it inside. The next day, she watched Katie, and sure enough, she did it again. Now we are keeping her inside for the mornings, until we collect the eggs from the lower locations.

Last week, I found several dozen frozen, old eggs way up underneath a storage trailer. I dug them all out, and saved the good ones. I left the big pile out in the open, curious of what would happen.

That night, she ate about a dozen. The next night, she ate all the rest, except for one. WOW, that dog can suck down some eggs!

So it's official. We have an egg sucker. We know it's our fault for giving her raw eggs, but it is what it is.

Any suggestions of how to break her of this? I don't care about the eggs so much, but I don't want her to start getting a taste for the SOURCE of the eggs! A chicken-killing dog is very hard or even impossible to break, I already know from hard experience as a youth.

-TH
 
John Polk
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Maybe blow an egg, then fill the hollow shell with Tobasco? (Wax the holes shut with parafin.)
Perhaps she will begin liking the ones you give her better than the ones she finds.
 
Nell Deason
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Tony Hill wrote:When we got our box of 30 chicks, temps were in the 20's so we set them up under a heat lamp inside an x- large dog crate in the family room. I used a large piece of 1/2"x1/2" wire mesh to keep them in. Eventually, I separated the top and bottom of the dog crate to double the floor space. Our wonderful German Shepherd, "Katie" took a keen interest in the fast-growing chicks. I allowed her to sniff them, but growled warnings that she had BETTER be very gentle with them. Once a chick jump suddenly, and Katie lunged, and everyone yelled at her instantly, and after that, she got the message- These were to be protected!

Once I was confident that she understood, I would let a chick or two out to test her. She would watch them carefully, almost with amusement in her eye, and if they got too far, she would herd them back to their pen with her nose. GOOD GIRL!

When the weather started warming, we would take the chicks outdoors on warmer afternoons. When we opened the door, the chicks would all come tumbling out. Strangely, Katie would sniff and nudge each one of them with her nose, like she was counting them... Hmmm... interesting. They would run around, peeping, pecking, plucking grass, having a good time. When it was time to round them up, Katie followed the same routine, sniffing each one, almost as if she were counting them. This was going better than I'd hoped!

As they got bigger, Katie became their loyal protector. She keeps EVERYTHING away from the chickens. We have found several dead animals, who no doubt were heading toward the coop. A stray dog came in our yard, and she was okay with him, until he headed toward the coop. She blocked his path, lowered her head with an intense, deadly gaze in his eyes, and rumbled a low growl. He got the message, and WOW, that was kind of scary, even to me!

I am confident that Katie is the reason we have not lost even a single bird. All 30.

But recently, something disturbing has taken place. Since our chickens are truly free-range, they tend to hide eggs sometimes, and sometimes when we find them, they float in water. So my wife has gotten in the habit of breaking any suspect eggs into Katie's bowl, over her dog food. Of course, she loves this!

But then, a few weeks ago, we noticed that we were getting fewer eggs, and NO eggs in any of the spots on the ground. All at once, and not during a cold snap. Hmmmm.... Winter lay off?

The next day, my wife happened to look out, and she saw Katie head toward the gray box, that usually has 2 eggs in it every day. A moment later, she reappeared, and my wife called her. Katie came, but with a guilty look. "What are you doing?" my wife asked. Katie leaned down and placed a big brown egg at her feet. She had been hiding it in her mouth!

My wife was stunned! It was warm and completely undamaged. She wasn't sure if she should scold Katie or praise her. A real head-scratcher! I told her to praise her for bringing it inside. The next day, she watched Katie, and sure enough, she did it again. Now we are keeping her inside for the mornings, until we collect the eggs from the lower locations.

Last week, I found several dozen frozen, old eggs way up underneath a storage trailer. I dug them all out, and saved the good ones. I left the big pile out in the open, curious of what would happen.

That night, she ate about a dozen. The next night, she ate all the rest, except for one. WOW, that dog can suck down some eggs!

So it's official. We have an egg sucker. We know it's our fault for giving her raw eggs, but it is what it is.

Any suggestions of how to break her of this? I don't care about the eggs so much, but I don't want her to start getting a taste for the SOURCE of the eggs! A chicken-killing dog is very hard or even impossible to break, I already know from hard experience as a youth.

-TH
Before we got chickens our neighbor had them and our dog killed a couple of them. When she killed the last one, my son took the dead chicken and flogged her with it. It worked and she's not bothered theirs or ours since. By the way, she herds our chicks, too!
 
Bev Huth
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Location: AR, USA
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If you don't want to do the Tabasco egg, put bitter lime spray on a few and leave them where the hens laid them, that will teach the dog that eggs are not to be touched and, are foul, bitter tasting things. Or reward her for bringing the undamaged eggs to you, teach her to gather eggs for you.

Ild place a container she could put eggs in near the door, have her fetch eggs and, give her a treat for each one she delivered undamaged. You may be able to get the dog to gather eggs safely.
 
William Bronson
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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Rather than flogging a dog, an act I am against, let me suggest tying the chicken to her collar for 3-4 days. I just heard about this from a young man at work who keeps chickens. Worked for him, and he got it from his grandfather.
 
Renate Howard
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My dog killed a couple in his puppy days but now guards them. Most mature dogs that are bonded with their owners learn pretty quickly what's off limits and what's not. My dogs all eat eggs when they find them, and the heeler (they're very SMART dogs!) even found out if he startles a hen an egg might drop out as she flees! They've also seen us butcher chickens to eat, and they wait for the heads and lick the blood as it drips onto the ground, but they don't kill chickens. If we didn't feed our dogs it might be a different story. I know some farmers don't feed their dogs, letting them hunt for their food, and then you're asking for trouble, I think.

We make dog-proof places to gather eggs, the hens that want to hatch manage to find places the dogs can't get to, and if the dogs eat some of the eggs we miss, that's fewer chickens we have to feed later on (our flock is growing!)

The dogs also don't kill baby chicks, tho the pup did when he first saw them, we had to show him that the chicks are ours and not toys. The heeler likes to watch them and tries to herd them away from their mom but he's only killed one since I taught him not to, that he accidentally stepped on when he was running.

My dogs are pretty smart, and I taught them the word "Mine" that means they're not allowed to bite or play with something. They understand.
 
Natalie McVander
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I'm not sure a dog would be fooled by a tobasco-filled egg. They smell things, above all else, and would likely know it's not what they want.

You could give it a try.

I also like Nell's idea of training - it might work if you are perfectly consistent with it.

As for the rest who have chicken-killing dogs - I've been through that many times. Growing up on a farm as well as my own.

Tried everything you've ever heard of. None of those worked.

However, one thing finally did work with our last dog, Seth.

See, dogs are very pack oriented and they willingly submit to the leader of the pack.
I learned a very important thing with a dog about 17 years ago.
Yankee was a very strong and dominant dog. He was big, strong, and could be aggressive.
But he knew I was the leader.
I was pregnant with my fourth child and Yankee took good care of me.
Something very unusual took place however, when I introduced my baby to Yankee for the first time.
Probably a day or two later, I took the baby outside and wanted to introduce the baby to Yankee.
I was a little concerned, as I knew Yankee could be aggressive.
As soon as Yankee saw me come out the door holding the baby, he immediately cowered, cried, and rolled over on his back.
Nothing I could do could persuade him to come closer and look up.
I realized he was showing me in the strongest way possible that he knew that baby was mine and he was completely submissive to it.
Yankee, whenever I took the baby outside, made it his first priority to stand guard over him, until the day Yankee died.
He would never leave his post whenever we were outside.

I used that with our dog Seth about 10 years ago.
Seth killed many chickens and we went through everything to try to cure it.
I knew if we couldn't break him of it, Seth was going to have to go, or we'd have to give up on free range chickens.
I ordered in a bunch of chicks and when the weather was warm enough, they went outside in the sunshine, into Seth's territory.
I sat there and cooed over those chicks with such love and expressiveness.
If Seth came near them he got the full venom of my glare and verbal chastisement.
This occurred over several days.
It worked very well. Seth came to realize that these chicks were higher in rank than he was, and he left them alone.

I have a friend who also experienced this, but with older birds.
As a last resort, she ran outside when she saw a dead chicken, cradled it in her arms and rocked back and forth on the porch for 30 minutes, wailing in sorrow.
That dog never killed another chicken.

Interesting to me.


 
wayne stephen
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You were able to communicate to this smart beast that the chicks were her charge and to be protected . Sounds like a smart shepard . I believe you would be able to convince her without flogging or any other negative reinforcement . She obviously seeks to gain your approval - which is why shepard dogs communicate with humans so well . They read our emotional signals , which is what selective breeding has fine tuned in them . That ancient trait distinguishes domestic dogs from the wolf . The dogs progeny was some breed that "chose" humans as partners . I bet she will respond to gentle training .
 
Tony Hill
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Some interesting replies!

What I've been doing is bring her in the house first thing in the morning, and then take her with me when we collect eggs. It's a happy time, and she leaves eggs alone, as long as they are in the "usual" spots.

We've been getting 15 eggs/day out of 16 hens, so if she's getting any, it's not many. Problem solved through management.

Hopefully, this is the end of it.

-TH
 
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