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Our Dogs Killed our Goats - Looking for Support

 
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We have two boxers. Individually they are angels with people and livestock. Togegher they are a nightmare and cannot be trusted. All the local farmers  say the same and only keep one of their  dogs in with other animals. They let the others roam the lanes  to bite walkers and cause traffic accidents but thats another story.
 
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Hey there,

I am so, so sorry about your dogs. I realize it's been a while since you posted this but it's floated back up. I felt the need to contribute due to seeing some myths about dogs in here that I wanted to correct.

I've been using the Koehler Method of Dog Training since 2010 to help reform problem dogs. So that's why I feel my opinion is worth something.

If a reader doesn't want to read my whole post, as least read this: animal aggression is NOT the same as human aggression. prey aggression is NOT the same as dog aggression. While any dog may have one or a combination or all of these types of behavior, they are NOT a slippery slope that inevitably leads to another! Your dog knows the difference between a possum and a human baby. A dog may attack livestock, dogs, and humans, or they may only have an issue with other dogs, or only an issue with people. It completely depends on the individual dog and their motivations. Particularly with prey chasing and killing, this is a natural, normal dog behavior! We (rightly) tend not to assume that a dog that enjoys chasing squirrels is next going to attack your toddler. That's not how it works. If you have a high drive dog that has not been taught that children are not to be interacted with as prey, that's another story. But your dog that normally has great manners with children and then kills a chicken is not going to suddenly decide they'd like to try human flesh.

As you've already gathered I'm sure, it all depends on the dog. Some people here have gotten a whole lot of mileage out of working with their dogs to change how they view livestock. Personally I wouldn't ever leave a non-livestock guardian alone with livestock, ever - unless they'd been raised with the livestock since puppyhood and had zero red flags at a mature age. I would count "alone" as being outside together without a human present, since goats and dogs are great at overcoming the challenges of most fencing. If you're not there to remind them what they ought not to do, I wouldn't rely on them to make the right choice. Instinct is a powerful motivator - THE most powerful motivator.

Here is an article called "The Misbehavior of Organisms". It's long, but recommended reading for anyone interested in training any animal. The point enclosed is that despite teaching various species of animals to reliably perform a behavior for reward, eventually each species would cease to do the trained behavior in favor of doing an instinctual behavior that got them no tangible reward. (a pig did "rooting" behavior, a raccoon did "washing" behavior, and a chicken pecked incessantly at a small moving object) It illustrates how instinctual behavior is more rewarding to the animal than anything we could ever reward them with. http://www.niu.edu/user/tj0dgw1/pdf/learning/breland.pdf

Which is not to say that animals can't be taught to abandon those behaviors, but that it is never going to be something that is totally fixed with a positive reinforcement only approach. As I said before, there is nothing we as humans can give them that is more satisfying that killing a chicken or chasing prey or what have you. There has to be a negative consequence for the bad behavior, in addition to teaching the animal an alternate option to chasing/killing (like - being on a "stay" until they learn self control)

I would definitely recommend working with a professional trainer on this, it's not a simple fix.

I would say two huge factors in your scenario is that you were away, and that the goats were babies.

I trained a dog that was menacing people in their foster person's home. I never had a single problem with him and other people, because from day one he was made to understand that I was the leader and in charge of who got to do what. I rehomed him with someone that didn't fully understand the importance of that - she just saw him cuddling with strangers at the park and didn't listen to the rest, I suppose - and did not continue using his training, and he bit someone in her home. He got rehomed with someone with experience with assertive dogs like him, and she never had a single problem with him. It seems like your dogs had a rapport with you that they did not have with their farm sitter. I completely agree with a previous poster's recommendation of boarding them when you're away. Alternatively a very tall chain link enclosure that is sunk into the ground to prevent digging could be used as an place for them to romp with the pet sitter, any kind of k9 alcatraz that lets them get outside time without any access to approaching the goat fencing.

I came home one day to find all eight of our sheep and goats outside their pen with one missing. Turned out the neighbor dog had scared them so bad they trampled down the electric netting and chased one of the sheep deep into the woods (we found her alive and well, thank god). With less aggressive dogs, our horned doe had no qualms about showing them why they ought to leave the goats alone.

And, dogs that have issues with livestock are the most reasonable to rehome. Folks that live in the city likely won't ever have to deal with the fact that their dog is a baby goat killer. As long as you're completely honest about all of the dogs history, you're in the clear. I was able to rehab a confirmed cat assassin (this dog would HUNT cats - silently stalk until she was close enough to grab) after a lot of training. She got to the point where she could be in the same room as a cat and relaxed enough to greet people and get pets rather than fixating on the cat. She lived with me in a house with two cats without incident. BUT, that's because I watched her like a hawk and was training her every moment she was in sight of a cat. She was rehomed with a family without cats and they received training on how to handle her, and they understand the responsibility they have to keep up her training. So it's possible, but it depends on how much work you're willing to put into it.

Also have to put in a plug for pit bulls - they're all individuals. While they are certainly a more high drive dog that generally enjoys a good scrap, my friend's pit was raised on his farm with hogs and chickens. at 4 years old he occasionally enjoys scaring the chickens (he'll run at them until they scatter, and then he walks off, laughing to himself I assume) but has never hurt one. he did attack a pig once, but only that once. He clearly *wants* to go after the pigs but he knows he ought not to, and despite being unsupervised loose on the farm has never gone after even a piglet since his one incidence. Personally I wouldn't take the chance but his owner does and it's worked out for him.
 
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R Manly wrote:Hey there,

I am so, so sorry about your dogs. I realize it's been a while since you posted this but it's floated back up. I felt the need to contribute due to seeing some myths about dogs in here that I wanted to correct.

I've been using the Koehler Method of Dog Training since 2010 to help reform problem dogs. So that's why I feel my opinion is worth something.

If a reader doesn't want to read my whole post, as least read this: animal aggression is NOT the same as human aggression. prey aggression is NOT the same as dog aggression. While any dog may have one or a combination or all of these types of behavior, they are NOT a slippery slope that inevitably leads to another! Your dog knows the difference between a possum and a human baby. A dog may attack livestock, dogs, and humans, or they may only have an issue with other dogs, or only an issue with people. It completely depends on the individual dog and their motivations. Particularly with prey chasing and killing, this is a natural, normal dog behavior! We (rightly) tend not to assume that a dog that enjoys chasing squirrels is next going to attack your toddler. That's not how it works. If you have a high drive dog that has not been taught that children are not to be interacted with as prey, that's another story. But your dog that normally has great manners with children and then kills a chicken is not going to suddenly decide they'd like to try human flesh.

As you've already gathered I'm sure, it all depends on the dog. Some people here have gotten a whole lot of mileage out of working with their dogs to change how they view livestock. Personally I wouldn't ever leave a non-livestock guardian alone with livestock, ever - unless they'd been raised with the livestock since puppyhood and had zero red flags at a mature age. I would count "alone" as being outside together without a human present, since goats and dogs are great at overcoming the challenges of most fencing. If you're not there to remind them what they ought not to do, I wouldn't rely on them to make the right choice. Instinct is a powerful motivator - THE most powerful motivator.

Here is an article called "The Misbehavior of Organisms". It's long, but recommended reading for anyone interested in training any animal. The point enclosed is that despite teaching various species of animals to reliably perform a behavior for reward, eventually each species would cease to do the trained behavior in favor of doing an instinctual behavior that got them no tangible reward. (a pig did "rooting" behavior, a raccoon did "washing" behavior, and a chicken pecked incessantly at a small moving object) It illustrates how instinctual behavior is more rewarding to the animal than anything we could ever reward them with. http://www.niu.edu/user/tj0dgw1/pdf/learning/breland.pdf

Which is not to say that animals can't be taught to abandon those behaviors, but that it is never going to be something that is totally fixed with a positive reinforcement only approach. As I said before, there is nothing we as humans can give them that is more satisfying that killing a chicken or chasing prey or what have you. There has to be a negative consequence for the bad behavior, in addition to teaching the animal an alternate option to chasing/killing (like - being on a "stay" until they learn self control)

I would definitely recommend working with a professional trainer on this, it's not a simple fix.

I would say two huge factors in your scenario is that you were away, and that the goats were babies.

I trained a dog that was menacing people in their foster person's home. I never had a single problem with him and other people, because from day one he was made to understand that I was the leader and in charge of who got to do what. I rehomed him with someone that didn't fully understand the importance of that - she just saw him cuddling with strangers at the park and didn't listen to the rest, I suppose - and did not continue using his training, and he bit someone in her home. He got rehomed with someone with experience with assertive dogs like him, and she never had a single problem with him. It seems like your dogs had a rapport with you that they did not have with their farm sitter. I completely agree with a previous poster's recommendation of boarding them when you're away. Alternatively a very tall chain link enclosure that is sunk into the ground to prevent digging could be used as an place for them to romp with the pet sitter, any kind of k9 alcatraz that lets them get outside time without any access to approaching the goat fencing.

I came home one day to find all eight of our sheep and goats outside their pen with one missing. Turned out the neighbor dog had scared them so bad they trampled down the electric netting and chased one of the sheep deep into the woods (we found her alive and well, thank god). With less aggressive dogs, our horned doe had no qualms about showing them why they ought to leave the goats alone.

And, dogs that have issues with livestock are the most reasonable to rehome. Folks that live in the city likely won't ever have to deal with the fact that their dog is a baby goat killer. As long as you're completely honest about all of the dogs history, you're in the clear. I was able to rehab a confirmed cat assassin (this dog would HUNT cats - silently stalk until she was close enough to grab) after a lot of training. She got to the point where she could be in the same room as a cat and relaxed enough to greet people and get pets rather than fixating on the cat. She lived with me in a house with two cats without incident. BUT, that's because I watched her like a hawk and was training her every moment she was in sight of a cat. She was rehomed with a family without cats and they received training on how to handle her, and they understand the responsibility they have to keep up her training. So it's possible, but it depends on how much work you're willing to put into it.

Also have to put in a plug for pit bulls - they're all individuals. While they are certainly a more high drive dog that generally enjoys a good scrap, my friend's pit was raised on his farm with hogs and chickens. at 4 years old he occasionally enjoys scaring the chickens (he'll run at them until they scatter, and then he walks off, laughing to himself I assume) but has never hurt one. he did attack a pig once, but only that once. He clearly *wants* to go after the pigs but he knows he ought not to, and despite being unsupervised loose on the farm has never gone after even a piglet since his one incidence. Personally I wouldn't take the chance but his owner does and it's worked out for him.



Lovely post! And very true. I ALWAYS push positive reinforcement first, but with dogs showing ANY sign of unacceptable aggression its is NOT the only solution. The reward for compliance has to be greater then the rewarding aspect of the undesirable behavior and as you said, it is very difficult (sometimes seemingly impossible) to find something of higher value then instinct. I also agree that leadership is a huge aspect in a dogs "training". No amount of treats and pettings will take the place of good pack structure. That being said, I do not agree with a lot of the "dominance theory" that just seems more like to me a shortcut for actually learning/understanding dog psychology. Its easy to "rule" using fear based tactics.....and I personally think some trainers take this way too far (Millan). I see alot of great training tools being misused under the guise that you have to "show the dog who's boss". Watching his show I'm not sure how half of the 911 episides even aired seeing as the "fixed" dog shows more stress/learned helplessness behaviors then being relaxed and submissive as a well trained/comfortable dog should. Most people don't have the RELATIONSHIP with their dog in order to even think about applying a correction.....
That being said, I may not agree 100% everything in Koehler's playbook for PET training, he's pretty spot on (although outdated in some aspects) in working dogs. I highly reccomend you check out the website Leerburg.com if you have an interest in training. One of the trainers they promote is Michael Ellis, and I LOVE his methods. Worth a sniff around if your interested
 
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are you sure it was your dogs and not a wild animal and the dogs just happen to cross into the area.they may have went in after the predators.
 
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There’s a lot of info here!  I’m glad you’ve gotten a strong response, and with variety.

There’s a lot of truth in not allowing a dog to kill livestock in the first place.  It can be impossible to break some dogs, and very difficult for those that can change.  Dealing with a small variation of this right now- my partners dog is a former sheep killer.  He’s made huge strides with my pack goats.  Everyone goes on walks and hikes together and The dog in question packs his own load.  We started him on a leash but he’s now trustworthy off leash and unburdened.  I would not allow him in the goat pen though!  He may never get to that point.  The theory here is establishing with the dogs that the goats are part of the pack.  We walk and hike and live with them, they are not prey.  My two large whethers have bonked the dog a couple times and have no fear of him, in exchange the dog mostly ignores them.  However my doe is fearful and acts like prey around him, and he definitely wants to eat her sometimes.  Having livestock that do not act like food is important in a situation like this.
 My own dog raised these goats herself.  I could leave her in a barnyard of goats, bunnies,  name it and not bat an eyelid.  Part of that is her breed, part of it is her conditioning.

I will note that I have always strived to feed my dogs raw meat.  These dogs now eat raw meat.  I want to stress this.  RAW MEAT DOES NOT MAKE A DOG A KILLER.  My dog has been studiously taught and trained.  I can trust her with newborn bunnies but the second I kill a meat rabbit she knows it’s now food.  I can toss the whole thing still twitching to her for food, and tomorrow she will catch a loose rabbit for me without harming it so I can put it ban in the bunny pen.  But I’ve worked her her whole life at this sort of thing.  She’s a stellar hunter but an equally trustworthy farm dog.  Some dogs CAN make a correlation between the raw meat and killing, but it’s a shot in the dark.  Kibble fed dogs still kill rampantly.  There’s no proven link here.  Just keep that in mind.

If it were me I wouldn’t give up.  Tailor your livestock to your dogs (calm, large, quiet) and your fences to your dogs (tough, tight, and electrified).  Be diligent in discipline, and, if possible and if desired, safely introduce your livestock as family members to the dogs. There are a lot of ways of doing this.  Some dogs are truly hopeless.  But many are not.


Remember this is a valuable learning lesson.  You have power in this situation.  Many struggle with neighbor or feral dogs killing livestock.  These are your pooches, you have control on the situation.  They didn’t kill someone else’s goats, and someone else’s dogs didn’t kill your goats.  Find a fencing system that works, because even if you get your dogs cohabitable, predators lurk, and this is an opportunity to learn how to protect your critters from unseen threats!  Good luck!
 
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Jordan Czeczuga wrote:Thank you all for the responses.  This definitely a challenging time, and one that is extremely hard since it was our dogs that we love.  

Has anyone every found another home for their dogs.  I just don't want to put them down, and they are loving dogs.  They just do not do well with livestock.  



Please do NOT kill your dogs. I understand how you feel about the goats--we had the exact same situation when we first got our goats almost 20 years ago (fortunately our German shepherd only managed to maul rather than kill, and the poor goat recovered). My husband's initial response was pretty much exactly that of some others here (to kill her). I loved that dog dearly and could not bear to part with her. Besides that, I had the horrible memory of losing two beloved pet dogs as a child when my dad shot them for getting into a neighbor's hen house and killing a chicken. I never forgot about it and I never forgave him for it.

Dogs are predators. It is what they are because they would not have survived if they were not--all animals have to eat. Dogs that do not kill or hurt other animals are either bred to mitigate that natural inclination or they are trained not to attack other animals, (though even the best-trained dog's basic instinct will always be essentially predatory). Really, why do people always blame the dog when it behaves badly and take credit when it does something good? If you have a predator living with a prey species it is YOUR JOB to make sure they either get along or they are separated effectively so that it does not matter.

After the attack on the goats that I mentioned above, we made the decision not to blame the dog for something that was clearly our fault and to do a better job in the future of dealing with the situation we had created. Understanding that the dog was probably never going to be absolutely safe around goats, we built a better fence. We installed field fencing 5' tall around a 3-acre perimeter, then further strengthed it by attaching 6' tall, 1" chicken wire in front of that so the dog could not get her head in and nip at the goats when they sat next to the fence. We also dropped trees and added logs along the base to keep her from digging under the fence. (Our soil is too rocky to bury a fence, but logs and rocks against the base were a perfect solution to the digging possibility.) Anyway, we never had another goat/dog interaction. At first, she loved to run at the fence to scare the goats, but when they finally quit reacting to that (knowing full well she couldn't reach them) she finally got bored and stopped.

Our much beloved German shepherd died of old age 4 years ago and we just lost the last of our goats (at age 18!!!) last week, so we no longer have to worry about this particular situation. We've had many dogs in the years we've been here (we have 11 of them now) and we always have chickens and ducks, but with a couple of exceptions (very stupid chickens who, despite clipped wing feathers, managed somehow to fly over an 8' fence into the dog's area) we have not had a single instance of the dogs killing any of the other animals since we learned to make sturdy boundaries between them. (By the way, the dangerous chicken situation was rectified when we realized they were flying into a small tree and then going over. We cut the tree.)

My point is, this is YOUR problem. It is YOUR job to protect your flock AND your dogs. If something like this occurs, please don't blame the dogs. And please, please don't kill them. They aren't doing this to hurt you or to cause you economic woes (!!!) but because YOU didn't make an adequate fence to protect your goats from them. It isn't really your fault either--I'm truly sorry for what you've been through--because you didn't know that your fence was not adequate at the time (and still don't know exactly what happened to allow your dogs in where they shouldn't have been while you were absent). Don't beat yourself up over it, but do install a much better, stronger and higher fence before you get goats again. You should also take your dogs to obedience school as an additional precaution so that they are under voice control in case one of your goats gets out (they are so good at that!) Training and good fences will allow you, your goats and your dogs to live long and happily. It doesn't have to be an either/or situation. The dogs don't have to die!
 
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I haven't read all the posts, but thought it worth echoing some important points
- animal aggression is NOT the same as human aggression
- dogs are animals and have drives/instincts, which includes prey drive
- the more dogs the worse it gets, when there's three it's a pack

Dogs are animals, they can be dangerous to livestock and people. It's important for owners to realize this and take responsibility, by not leaving the dog alone with livestock of children.
 
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R Manly wrote:

Which is not to say that animals can't be taught to abandon those behaviors, but that it is never going to be something that is totally fixed with a positive reinforcement only approach. As I said before, there is nothing we as humans can give them that is more satisfying that killing a chicken or chasing prey or what have you. There has to be a negative consequence for the bad behavior, in addition to teaching the animal an alternate option to chasing/killing (like - being on a "stay" until they learn self control)



I agree with much of your post, but we differ with regards to the idea that there has to be a negative consequence.  Neither positive nor negative consequence training will "last forever".  Training is an on-going process, even if it is largely informal "reminders" after the initial, more intensive, training.  If you train your dog with either method of training to the point they are completely reliable and then abandon their training altogether, or like your example, the dog goes to a new owner that doesn't continue with the dog's training, the dog will revert to instinctive behavior.  I personally don't believe that negative consequence training makes the dog more reliable than reward based training.  I don't believe it simply because I've trained dogs both ways with similar results.

I started training dogs in about 1985.  I used a kind of watered down Koehler method because I believe it to be unnecessarily cruel and stressful to the dog, and I don't feel it is necessary.  I didn't train professionally for long, only a couple years, but I continued to work with animals of my own, and those of acquaintances. I delved deeper into animal psychology and I no longer believe a dog needs to be hurt to be trained, any more than a child does.  I would urge people at the very least to explore other methods.

I appreciate your pitbull comments.  I have raised them for many, many years and your comments are spot on.
 
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I know this thread is old, but wanted to offer my condolences for your goats. I think it's always shocking to be hit with death of that caliber, no matter how long someone has been homesteading and/or farming.

I have a pug. This pug is so gentle and sweet and nice and ladylike - until she sees a chicken or a quail. Then she's all about the homicide. I was transferring quail one day and I didn't know the pug was behind me, I dropped a little quail, and as I was reaching to help her into the next cage, our Pug, quick as you like, reached out and snapped the quail's legs. It was awful. I had to put the quail down, obviously, and the Pug went into the laundry room where she could stare out the window at me with her woobie eyes, looking all repentant.

But she wasn't. Next it was a chicken that got out of our run, and as I picked her up to help her back inside, the Pug Of Death shot around my legs and clamped down on the chicken's head. That time I gave my Pug A Doo a swat on the rump, and saved the chicken.

Looks like you get to build some serious, wooden, high fences. With pasture fencing dug down into the ground in case the dogs dig. Or, what we did, is get a shock collar that allows the dogs a generous radius around our house and garage, but all farm animals are kept in the lower pasture, outside of the radius. But we have smaller dogs, so it's a different story. It was 3 days of good training and some periodic retraining on the collar, but they have the hang of it, and always turn back when the warning beep sounds. I think only one of our dogs got the lightest shock only twice, and that was in the first month of having the collar.

If you do build a fence, and the dogs do dig, you can always scoop up dog poop and put it in the holes or around the radius of the pen. They won't dig where their poop is. High maintenance and kinda silly, but just a thought.

I have a farmer friend who built a solid wood fence with 1 foot gaps between the horizontal boards, in which she put in metal field fencing, and then ran an electric cable around the top (not touching the wood). It was labor intensive, but her dogs have never gotten to her sheep.

Also, German Shepard's and Staffordshires are known to be a bit on the kill-y side, so mayhap curtail them and buy a livestock guardian dog puppy who will protect your goats and the perimeter of the property? You guys are obviously dog people, so we want to play to your strengths and keep you happy and the dogs happy. And the goats, you know, alive.

I do hope you are doing better.
 
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First I'm very sorry that this situation happened.  I can only imagine how traumatic it must have been.

My take is one of seniority.  Your dogs were family members before you acquired the baby goats.  As others (or at least one other) have said, it might be a good idea to migrate to larger livestock, something that could command more respect than defenseless baby goats.  Full grown pigs or cattle might be good alternatives.  (I have a mixed breed dog who is a voracious rodent hunter so I cannot have a pet hamster while he is with us.  My other dog is not good with cats so getting a cat is out during her lifetime.)  Pit bulls are bred to attack vulnerable prey animals and German shepherds can be aggressive, so I would suggest more robust farm livestock while these two are with you (hopefully for a long time to come).  

I would not put a lot of stock in training versus innate impulses in your dogs.  When I get a new puppy, I remove tempting items from puppy's environment.  If a pup likes to chew socks, the simple solution is to remove all socks until your pup has outgrown the desire to chew them... forever if the desire is permanently ingrained.   I would never trust your dogs to be safe around baby goats.  If you had gotten the goats first and the dogs second, then I'd suggest re-homing the dogs, but these two dogs are clearly an established part of your family.
 
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Our pyr was 4 when we got livestock. He can be trusted with our children 100% but if he can grab any of the poultry he will. He's killed more of our poultry than any of the other predators in the area combined. We fence him very very well. If you saw our fence you'd think it was nuts. It looks like a federal prison fence. It works though. He stays in.

He is a saint with our children. So I don't for one second believe that they get the urge to kill and will kill just anything. We have 2 children, 8 and 6 who have grown up with him. Who have played in his food. Who have shared a bed with him. Who can command him to sit and come. I just hate this thought that a dog that kills is a risk to children. Sorry.

Also, he really did take to the neighbors cows. He tried desperately to guard them. The neighbor was less appreciative of his efforts. We had to strengthen the fence. That dog was determined to get to those cows. The cows obviously weren't afraid of him. He'd just be standing around with them.

As for pigs, I think he's got a healthy fear of pigs so he's never tried to hurt one of them. The first time I introduced him to the pigs a pig just bit him right on the nose. He gives them a healthy amount of space now.

We've not had any other livestock so I'm not sure if he would kill a goat or not. He would absolutely kill anything with wings.

 
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Timely topic.  We just got a puppy.  First dog in 5 years in our house.  Last dog was put down due to old age/illness before we ever got livestock.

Anyway, new puppy is a purebred German Shepherd.  Intended as a family pet more so than anything.  We will definitely be training him to leave the chickens and turkeys alone.  But other than just being a general deterrent to coyotes due to his presence I don't really expect much.

Hopefully when we get sheep/goats/cattle he'll adapt well and not be a threat to them.  

I do agree with those on here that have said that if you have a problem with a dog attacking your livestock getting a good fence, or other means to effectively separate them is the best plan.  Re-homing, let alone shooting, the dog should be a last resort.  As their owners we owe it to them to train them well, and not put them in a position where their essential nature becomes a reason for severe punishment (note that correction is not punishment).  German Shepherds have a sufficiently strong instinctual prey drive that, e.g. keeping totally free ranging chickens and then punishing the dog with a new home or a bullet for killing them isn't fair to the dog.

ETA: Note that the paragraph above is intended for problems with your own dog.  A neighbor's dog, feral/wild dogs, etc attacking stock get shot without hesitation or remorse.  And I'd have no problem presenting the owner of offending animal with a bill for the damages (as I'd expect to receive if my dog was an offender on a neighbor's property).
 
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I had a dog once that killed one of our ducks.  Well, that dog had to wear that duck around her neck for a couple of days.  She didn't bother any more ducks.

I now have goats and a problem with the neighbor's pit bull pack, and with all the coyotes in the area.  Because of that, I got a donkey to live with them.  Donkeys hate canines and will deliver a devastating kick when they are around
 
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Just recently had a similar situation. We adopted this cute sweet lab mix to protect our animals on our mini homestead from coyotes and foxes.
Our dog killed a chicken after being so good with them randomly one morning. We didn’t even think it was her at first, until we saw the second attack.
She attacked another and we tried everything we could to teach her “our birds.” I’ve never had an issue with past rescue dogs and my girl she was A very smart lab mix. Maybe too smart- She broke into the pen finished the one she attacked earlier-except hid it from us until later to bring it out and eat her. She just got better at hiding it One of our favorite ducks went missing and I knew then , she did it again and We couldn’t break her and our trust in her was gone. She just learned to hide the bodies.

We took her with all her stuff to a local rescue and are donating for her care. Hoping she finds a perfect family without small livestock. But it’s heart breaking. It’s the first time I’ve ever had to return an animal . But I think where she failed as a farm dog she’d be someone’s dream hunting dog or family dog as she is very sweet. Still it was and is very hard. I’m still not over having to do it.
Best of luck with your situation.
 
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I like where you are coming. It’s where I always stood. But I have a female GSD and I have worked with her a lot. She can walk around with me are chickens are free range. She is an egg thief which didn’t raise any red flags for me. I still corrected her for sure. But I came home to find her ripping apart one of my good chickens. She was broody laying on a nest. But this is the third time. I have her son (neutered) as well and she is apparently taught him wrong. He went after my baby goats. You can tell he swung them around by their necks. I’ve got one with severe injuries taking her back in for sedation and possibly surgery. And the other one can eat and walk around but her jaw line is swollen. What makes me worried is that he can do this to my smaller animals I don’t trust him around my 3 toddlers anymore. My mind is set about him. I’m just torn about my female. She is 7 yrs old and has had plenty of chances. We were only gone to take little ones to their dentist appt. she tore down 30feet of good strong metal fence. This is metal sheet on metal pipe. My family says I shouldn’t pass a dog on with this much bad behavior. Nobody I know doesn’t have livestock or farm animals. And she is a protective dog and idk if she can change families. I’m torn. Any advice.
 
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I live in a farming community. Loose dogs endanger livestock. I do not tolerate loose dogs on my property. My neighbor had a different view. The same dogs I ran off attacked his horse and ripped its tail off. It left the bone and meat on the horse, just ripped the skin off. That horse died of massive infection. That's a terrible way to go. The owner couldn't get close enough to the horse to get it in a trailer to get to the vet.

-We had a dog that loved to chase cows. My Dad shot it with a shotgun while she was chasing one and rolled her ass in some cactus. She never chased another anything.

-Neighbor had goats and her own dogs killed most of them. She's up on 12 counts of animal cruelty charges. The last nanny had her ears torn off because the dogs would latch on and go for a ride.

-My wife was bitten in the face twice as a little girl. Those dogs died instantly.

None of these incidents were actually the dogs fault. It was the owners, but the dogs pay the price for idiots that own dogs but don't keep control of or train them.
I will not tolerate a dog jumping on me. One should train their animals like they do their kids. If you won't tolerate a child jumping on your friends why would you tolerate your animal jumping on them? Training is the responsibility of the owner and I shouldn't have to put up with bad behavior.
I do not have animals because I don't have time to train them. I have a cat that hangs around my shop, but I don't feed her and I have only seen her once. I know she stays around because I see her tracks in the dirt driveway. She doesn't bother my guests or livestock so she can stay.
Don't get me wrong, I love dogs, but not a cat person. Growing up we always had strays come and go. But when you're paying big money for livestock, fencing to keep them safe and buildings to keep them healthy to have a dog break in and threaten your investment it has just crossed a line it can't recover from. I keep weapons close at hand for just such an eventuality. I don't enjoy it. As a matter of fact it bothers me to have to put down a neighbors pet for threatening my animals and investment, but damn it, train your bloody animals. I ain't got time to train my own, so I am not going to take the time to train yours.
 
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Do you have any suggestions with having  The animal around smalle animals. My dog who is he German shepherd Great Dane mix I believe killed to smalle animals around our home and this evening Killed 2 out of 3 of our pigs. He is very gentle dog who has never showed aggression Other than this evening and I am at loss for words as to what to do.
 
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Jennifer Eskridge wrote:Do you have any suggestions with having  The animal around smalle animals. My dog who is he German shepherd Great Dane mix I believe killed to smalle animals around our home and this evening Killed 2 out of 3 of our pigs. He is very gentle dog who has never showed aggression Other than this evening and I am at loss for words as to what to do.



My advice is that if you want to keep the dog, you need to take the dog to where the dead pigs are and pin his face to one while expressing yourself in a very aggressive manner (think loud voice lots of NOes) I learned a long time ago that a dog respects being pinned by the throat and growled at. That's how they teach each other and assert dominance. You must be the Alpha, and impose your will on the dog. You cannot treat the dog like your child or even as a human, its a dog. You must speak dog.

I currently have a dog named Beatrice, she is half Red Heeler and half Jack Russell. When she was younger she got a baby chick out of a cage and attempted to "play" with it. I snatched her up by the scruff of the neck and got the chicken out of her mouth. Then I pinned her to the ground by her throat and swatted her a few times while saying NO! BAD DOG!  She kills rats and mice on a daily basis, and squirrel hunts all the time. She has NEVER tried to attack another chicken.

She is a very good dog, and smart. So aggressiveness should not be done away with necessarily just focused.

 
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Please don't pass your problem on to someone else.

Put a last meal down and a bullet to the head. This is the only humane and real solution. You can keep feeding the problem and it only gets worse.

Before you get another dog you need to realize the problem can be traced back to the owner = poor training and lack of attention.
 
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I've got two German short-haired pointers. They are natural bird hunting dogs and I hunt with them. They also chase squirrels, chipmunks, frogs, deer, etc. They kill field mice daily. My point is they have an incredibly high prey drive. We have about 40 free range chickens and ducks. It took training and lots of attention, but the dogs have peacefully coexisted for 4 years now. They did kill a chicken early on, but that's on me. Shock collars are the way to go, with ALOT of attention at first. Now, I let them out amongst the chickens unsupervised for hours with no worries. They have learned that if they lay in the woods and watch the chickens from afar, sometimes a fox will show up and it's game on. I've even got a duck that will lay next to my male on sunny days and peck him occasionally. I wouldn't give away/put down your dog until you've done everything you can to teach them to behave. It also sounds like your dogs didn't do wrong until you weren't around for awhile. Maybe try boarding them if your going to be gone more than a day. Good luck!
 
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Hi. I just got a heeler puppy barely weaned. He's about three months. He ate a poult over a month ago.

My pov is that of a city girl with a country heart who moved to her grandparents hometown. I aspire to be a farmer but I'm not there yet. I have sheep herding on my list of big goals. That and the fact I sort of had an inclination to cattle herding breeds made me take him home. He's not from a top bloodline or anything. And yes I do give him raw meat and brought him up on it. He's my friend. Lol. I have another dog a greyhound Portuguese Estrella mix. Random I know. And she knows not to chase birds. Her only fantasy is escaping. It was heartbreaking to catch him eating it.

I did yell at him and take the bird away. I often wonder what I'm doing lol. He's better than I thought he'd be. A sweetie. And I love him. I guess I don't have the most pragmatic attitude. But he's very special to me. One thing I like is he knows what I want. N he doesn't like making me mad. Now when we play he does his ball purposely away from chickens. But he can't resist stirring them up sometimes. I catch him occasionally. He's just like a human boy. He'll run through them trying to get somewhere. N I can tell when he liked it too much when they squawked. He goes inside to the cage immediately after that. I'm charmed by the intelligence of a heeler. They are so dreamy. I plan to continue giving him raw meat. Will see how it goes. I guess my hope is that when I have sheep and as he learns treibbal that he'll have something to use up his time.
 
pollinator
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Raw meat will not make your dog kill your animals.   I've been raw feeding exclusively for 20+ years now, and all my dogs over the years have lived with livestock, other animals, done sheep and duck herding,  come into the rabbit colony with me,  live with indoor cats,  etc.

Some of the mistakes are the impulsivity and inexperience of youth coupled with owner not having a real clear expectation of what their dog was mature enough to handle as far as environmental difficulty.   It's NORMAL for example, for a dog's prey drive to wake up or intensify their "first spring as an adolescent."   It takes people by surprise if it's their first puppy or if they puppy has been shy or cautious around animals before that.  They look at the year before that and think that is how the dog "is" instead of seeing that it's a young animal that isn't fully developed and will have several more changes yet to come.  You don't really know who your dog is or who they will be as an adult.   You can see some things, but not the whole picture.

My older dog right now killed one of our rabbits when she was about 6 months old.   It escaped the colony,  and she caught it and pinned it gently.   THEN one of my other dogs ran over to see what she had before I could walk over and get it, and she impulsively GRABBED it,  hard, coveting it from the other dog.   I don't expect a barely adolescent dog to have the sense and self control to handle that situation.  It was super arousing for her and she overreacted.   It was unfortunate and a mistake that can happen when you raise predators around small animals.   I skinned it and quartered it and the dogs had it for dinner.   I did not need to punish or threaten my dog over it.  I took it quietly with a disappointed tone of voice and that was the end of it.

My dogs WILL hunt, catch, kill, and eat wild rabbits.   They'll aggressively chase cats off the property.  They know the difference between "our" animals and "tresspassing" animals.  Dogs are smart like that, especially breeds meant for farm or herding work.   But they don't know any of this automatically,  they need to be raised.   You have to have a plan,  you have to introduce them to things and supervise them until they can handle the stimulation and know what is expected.   They have to grow up and have a good relationship with either you or the other animals on the farm (in the case of LGDs).    Tossing a young dog out in the world to figure this all out on his own, and well, he's gonna act on instinct and what feels good in the moment.
 
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Jordan Czeczuga wrote:This is my first time posting on this forum, and unfortunately it is under a sad topic.

Me and my wife have two dogs a German Shepard and a Staffordshire Terrier.  We have had them for almost 5 years.  It was through our dogs that we meet at the dog park.  They actually introduced us, and we have been married now for almost two years.  We both wanted to start our own homestead and two years ago bought a few acres with a home to create our own little homestead.  Obviously the dogs came with.  About 9 month back we added to our property 2 baby goats that we were going to start our herd from.  We installed an in ground electric fence to separate the dogs from the area the goats and chickens had.  We knew that they would not get along, and we needed to keep the separate.  The goats and chickens have their own fenced in acre. Everything seemed to be ok until last week we were on vacation and got a call from our friend who was watching the animals for us that she came home to find the dogs in the fenced in area for the goats, and the goats were dead.  We are both heartbroken that the dogs would do that, and we are at a loss of what to do.  We want to continue to follow our passion and keep goats on the property but don't know if that is possible with the dogs at this point.

I guess I am reaching out to see if anyone else has gone through this or if anyone has any advice or tips or what to do.

Thanks in advance

Jordan



Jordan, what you need is a good livestock guardian dog. One with experience with goats. I know how you feel- I had some corsos a while ago and some sheep, which my husband did not fence properly, and the dogs fence didn't latch properly. One night we went out and came back to a slaughter- and my corsos had the sheep's blood on their side. What's really bad was our lgd had one of the sheep's legs in it's mouth! We sold the Pyrenees immediately! If you get an lgd, make sure it's one that has experience with farm animals, and not raised to be a dumb pet, like meant are doing now.
As for the corsos, they are in better fencing, and until we get a new lgd, they are actually around our chickens, performing the job of an lgd, and they are both in electric fencing doing great. We haven't lost one chicken since we did that. I don't think your idea was bad, I think a good fence will make a great dog. And if that animal can't respect that fence, then you have to make adjustments, or get rid of the animal. It's that simple. You've got to figure out what you want, and make it work... If you want goats you will need animals that work with them, OR have really good measures in place so that the predators don't hunt the prey, so to speak. I think you guys know what to do! Thanks for sharing, and sorry for your loss. That's the part of homesteading no one likes to face.
 
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Jordan,
YES... I  Have been through this I might be able to help I'm not sure. I can tell you that's right off the top this is a very tough situation to be in because I too love my goats my goats are my babies however I have a dog that I've had for over 6 years that actually ran away from her previous owner to come live with me .
Since I've been up in the country for the last 5 years the last 3 of them I have at goats I have 6 of them I love them to no end , they have harnesses I play with them they walk with me they follow me up-and-down on my property everywhere they're basically spoiled but they're my happiness. A couple months ago something got in the goat pen and attacked one of my goats, Itsee. She was pretty injured on her front arm so of course she went straight to the vet.
We didn't know how or what happened so we just made sure we cared for her and went along I guess about our business but being a little bit more alert and a few fixes to the fencing. A few weeks later this happened again and we came to find out that it was our own dog.
My little baby girl itsee  Spent 3 weeks at the vet office having her wounds cleaned ,drained, dressings changed 2 a day. Infection set in quickly.  Infection from a dog by is no joke. My fiancee and i went back-and-forth we cried we cried we talked we talked and we just didn't know what was the right decision to make. We DO know that it was our dog that put a little tiny goat through torture until she was quiet...THEN she went for more. She was all alone its more than her 3rd strike and we decided after talking to some of the girls at the vet office who had been through this with a dog that she had had success segregating them for the last 6 years so not wanting to put our dog to sleep and of course wanting more and more goats we did the same That lasted for a couple months and the other day I went to the store and I came home to a message from a neighbor On Facebook Messenger that said your  goat sounds like it's dying again.
Well needless to say when I got here not only was itsee dead but there were 3 other goats that were injured and all needed to go to the vet they've been shuffled in-and-out of the vet office for the last few days my eyes are so swollen and my voice is gone I have been crying I have been beside myself on what we're to do now.
Veterinarians are not in the habit of putting animals down for no reason especially if there are healthy animals however because of the fact that my dog has done this not once not twice but 3 times plus 2 cats and 2 baby chicks we had to make the hardest decision we've ever made and we had her put to sleep the other night.
This is the hardest thing I've ever done but I have to tell you this we have saved 5 other goats from her now because I know this would eventually hapoen again. I look at it like this, if she would've got another neighbor or rancher's flock or something or herd she'd have been shot if we gave her to somebody and she got to somebody's animal she probably would have been shot people in the country just shoot things that threaten their livelihood.
Not only did I not want to put this dog in the hands of somebody else and not know what was going to happen from there I didn't want to take the chances of this happening again somewhere else in the future so we figured the most humane way that we could end this horror that my goats have been through is by putting this animal to sleep.
I have a grave out on the side of my yard now with a little tiny Nigerian goat that was supposed to be a year old next month.
I am sad I miss my little baby itsee her sister bitsee misses her  too and I have 5 goats now that are basically kind of traumatized and a little weary and sketchy of all my other dogs even though they've never been hurt by them and they neve I would be so I don't know if this helps you Jordan you know like I said it was a very hard decision but at the end of the day I was actually able to go to the store last night and leave everybody home in their pens and in their kennels and  know that I was not gonna come home to any more death.
Do I still have those moments of could I should I would I could have done or whatever absolutely YES, but you know what and the end of the day this was not going to be the last and I am watching the 5 that saw their little sister be killed and I know that she screamed and screamed because my neighbors down the street across the way heard her and I can't I can't condone that I can't let that go on anymore
I'm trying real hard to hold it together because I've lost a goat and I've lost a dog all on the same day but again I have a responsibility to these other 5 goats I can't just let them be pray, And I too want many many more ... I  will never have enough goats  lol  but I cant justify getting anymore  if I've  got a dog on my land that's possibly gonna kill them.
Good luck,thoughts are with you, please let me know how this ends.
 
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Jordan...Are you sure it was your dogs? Were your dogs bloody? The reason I ask is because my dogs are protective and chase "monsters" One of their monster chases was all the way over to the neighbors where coyotes were killing his sheep. When My neighbor herd the barking dogs who were trying to save the sheep, he turned on his outside light and the coyotes were flat out gone and my dogs were the only ones at the scene. He shot my lab pup. What if some other dogs or predator made it threw your fence, killed your goats and your dogs tried to save them and stayed with the dead buddies to "protect " them...? If your dogs were not aggressive towards your goats like running the fence, etc...?Sounds like you need a "stock dog trial"...Sorry for your loss.
 
jackie woolston
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Jordan, Did I miss whether or not your chickens were murdered?  Or were they shut in for the night? If it was your dogs, and it was out of "character" for them to have aggression towards your goats...sounds like "separation anxiety" perhaps? If you seldom are gone for extended periods of time you need to reassure them by telling them "we'll be back" etc, leave for a short time, come back, re-enforce "we'll be back" do this for a few times, being gone longer each time. Dogs are amazingly smart...and they will get this. I had a dog with horrid destructive separation anxiety, it took only 3 "sessions of "We'll be back" to put an end to it. Killer dogs seldom can hide their impulses...not very good liars. The German Sheps. that I have had contact with have always been very protective of home and anything associated with that. As for Staffies, I have had a few and known more...only one was a bad seed. And even at that his issue was not killing my critters but being to aggressive in protecting them...Any dogs that he thought were too close to his home, he would savagely attack. I had to shoot him because I watched him one day go after a little doggie on a walk with a young mom and a little child. Time of sorrows! I was able to stop any trouble but just the thought that I might not be there to intervene next time...YIKES!
 
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What kind of electric fence do you have? Netting, or wires (we have used both). Last year we had some of our guard dogs decide they wanted out, and so they'd continually slide under or jump over the net fence. The correction part will sound brutal, so believe me when I tell you that we only did this because they weren't figuring it out, and this was the only thing that worked. Whenever they got out, we'd catch them, put them back in the fence and turn it on (with you still inside). Once it was on, you'd grab them and push their nose into the fence, so they got zapped hard. After repeating the process a couple more times around the pasture, the dog wouldn't go near the fence, let alone get out of it. If your dogs connect the fence with pain, they won't go in. Getting a zap collar might also be helpful, since it's a better "in the moment" trainer. In a different post, I talked about using your voice and body language to correct the dogs killing (or other bad behavior) instincts. Go out with your dog, and go either in the pen, or just outside it, and watch their behavior. If they zero in on an animal, perk their ears, and get that stalking look to their body, correct them. For correction, match your voice to the tone of a dog growling. Dogs respond to correction better if it is given in their "language." Your body language is also key. Dogs are very in tune with their people handlers, if your voice says "you bad dog," but your body says "I'm totally terrified," they won't get the message. So when you're correcting a dog, you need your body to match your voice. Look at them like they're in trouble, stand like you're dominant, and use a low and growl-like voice. A lot of training a dog to respect things comes from accurate responses to their behavior before it happens. Obviously it's a bit late to do this for your previous goats (I'm really sorry to hear about that, I know how hard that is!), but when, assuming you do, get more, make sure to train them to the fence if they push it AT ALL, and correct them for aggressive interest before they kill. Getting a guard dog may also be helpful, since they are dedicated to the animals, but Guardians are vastly different from traditional dogs, so make sure to have a mentor and do research before getting into them. Keep in mind with them though, if the house dogs did get in with the goats, you may loose the dog to the LGD. Livestock Guardian dogs are no joke, so you'd need to be prepared for their intensity.
I would encourage you to continue your dream though! Homesteading is incredibly fulfilling, and brings so much joy to life! It comes with heartache, it comes with pain, but it also comes with the incredible fulfillment. How much acreage do you have? If you're on five or under, stick with poultry, pigs, sheep, and/or goats. Sheep and goats are definitely delightful to raise, and you can have a lot more of them per acre than you can of cows or horses. I'm not sure if you've already looked into it, but if you have them on pasture, I'd look into regenerative grazing to make sure you keep your land healthy. I'd start with adults though, they are less delicate, and can protect themselves better.
 
Rachel Elijah
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Any update Jordan?
 
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Very sorry about your goats!   They are sweet animals, and to come home to them being dead would be heartbreaking.

Most dogs can be trained to not kill livestock, but some dogs can't.  How serious you are about training is often the difference.   This method sounds really mean, but remember, you are trying to save your dog's life.   Trying to find a home for a dog is difficult, and they often will end up in a pound or shelter and could die.  

Almost every puppy we get ends up killing a chicken or two before they get trained.   You have to supervise when they are young.  Once the puppy hits 8 or 9 months old, and has basic commands down pat, the way we train them is to bring them along into the pens with us with a leash on.   Put them under a heel command and take them right in.   Watch the dog intently.

If the dog looks at a chicken too long, give it a sharp verbal reprimand and snap the leash along with a long, harsh glare.   Do it EVERY time.  Don't let them get focused.  Let them know you are serious about this.

If the dog jumps or snaps at a chicken, INSTANTLY pin him down and get right in his face, growling, teeth bared, and let him know that THIS BEHAVIOR WILL NOT BE TOLERATED OR I MAY KILLL YOU WITH MY OWN HANDS!!!    The idea is to do this so suddenly that you scare the crap out of the dog.   (You almost have to scare yourself to do it right)  He HAS to understand that you are not playing, and HIS ACTIONS are the reason for your wrath.   Once he goes limp and averts his eyes away, slowly relax and go back to business as usual.  Keep watching him.  If he starts to focus on the birds again, bark "HEY!" at him, even if he stares for just a second.  Do it again and I usually follow up with a growl of something like, "Did you NOT understand what I just told you?!?", while glaring intently.

If you do it right, you almost never have to pin them down a second time.   They will still be reeling from the first episode, so when you bark and or growl, they will instantly step back in line.  As soon as they are back in line, relax and go back to your normal, happy self.     The CONTRAST must be night and day.

Walk around the pen for about 10 minutes, and then take him back into his house, kennel or crate and give him about 1/2 hour to absorb the lesson.

The next day, do the same thing.  This time, you probably will only need minimal verbal commands, but do what you must if your dog is stubborn.   Don't relent or back down in the slightest.   10 minutes and then allow him 30 mins to absorb the lesson.

By day 3, the dog will probably not focus on the birds, but will be watching you.  He doesn't want to face your wrath again.   Only give him very light praise, as he is NOT doing anything special, but you want him to feel that he is being good and you are happy with him.

By the end of the week, he will be used to the routine, and will completely ignore the livestock.  

After that, the next step is bringing the dog into the pen and putting them into a down-stay command.  Give him praise for holding, and just sit and relax.   If he starts looking at a bird too much, tell him to stop, and he should.   The more the animals walk around him the better.    The dog will figure it out pretty quickly.

Bring the dog in while you feed the livestock and do chores, and watch him, but after awhile, the training will take.  Soon he will totally ignore the birds.

The real kicker is if you have predators come into the coop.    This may sound terrible, but if you can get the dog onto a coon or possum that got into the coop, they will see THEM as the enemy and won't give the chickens a second look after that.  They will go into guard mode and actually protect the chickens after that.    A GOOD place to be!

I'm referring to chickens in this post, but it works the same with other animals.      But if you can't train them, you MUST keep them away from the livestock.  Pick your battles.

Again, sorry about your goats.
 
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