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Dog training

 
suez Cawood
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Anyone have any idea on how to train dogs NOT to kill chickens
They've had their general training and wouldn't touch the chickens when we're around, but the problems start when we need to leave the yard. ... when we get back another chicken would be gone...  so sad!!

Any suggestions?

Many thanks.
 
                        
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Are you quite sure it is your dogs and not a hawk or other predator? If it is the dogs for sure and they don't touch the chickens when you are around I think you may need to fence them off from the chickens when you are away.

It sounds as though you have more than one; perhaps lock one or the other up and see if it is just one and if so which one..you may well end up having to choose between your chickens and the dog. Perhaps without the impetus of the  "pack" if only one is free when you are not around it will remember its training.Many dogs are well behaved by themselves but when with another or a group they sometimes revert to pack behaviour that they won't indulge in otherwise.

However, once a dog has become a chicken killer often they never quite give it up..perhaps the chickens running and squawking triggers a chase reflex which in the absence of the pack leader (you) they find hard to resist. If the dog actually EATS the chicken I think you are going to have to figure out either how to keep the dogs entirely separate from the chickens whenever you are not supervising or find a new home for  either the dogs or the chickens. Sorry I have no better suggestion.

Once a dog has killed  a domestic creature they generally are considered to be forever untrustworthy around that type of animal, be it chicken  sheep, cattle or whatever. This is why many places have laws on the books that anyone who finds a dog attacking livestock can shoot the dog without a second thought.
 
                      
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get a radio collar and hide out  in a closed upstairs window  shhhh and if he fixates on the chicken  give the radio collar a nip

i would try first thing in the morning no one outside around him
 
                              
Posts: 262
Location: Coast Range, Oregon--the New Magic Land
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I have a heeler and a standard poodle. No chickens presently. The heeler was around chickens from a puppy, the poodle was about 4 when introduced. The heeler wanted to herd the chickens(make them run), the poodle would put her foot on their back and lick them. Neither ever killed one, and the chickens would snatch dog food out of their dishes when the dogs were eating.

Now the neighbor used to have a german shepherd and a mastiff which would sneak over and kill my chickens, grrrrr.

Personally I think it comes down to teaching the dog NO, and that YOU are the master/pack leader--the dog obeys you. They must be supervised, cuz they are dogs after all. My poodle I would trust with chickens(we once found her locked up in the coop for the day with the chickens, no casualties), the heeler not so much because she would chase them to exhaustion if left to her own devices for a long time(not neccessarily to kill, kwim?). The chicken coop/fenced chicken yard was OFF LIMITS to the dogs, they were taught they weren't allowed to go in there(ha, despite the poodle getting locked in there, that was freak...stuff happens with kids around I guess ).

Just saying with me it was a question of does the dog repect me--it HAS worked with the two dogs I have(actually I had another heeler that never killed/chased chickens either, so three dogs). The chickens are MINE and the dogs can't have them, just like my food on my plate is MINE and the dogs can't have it(and woe unto them if they try to steal some). I know different breeds will act in different ways, and you have to work with it. 

Hope that helps, ya gotta have the training first though, before the chickens, so the dog listens to YOU.
 
suez Cawood
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Thanks for all the input.

Yes, well the dogs has been and is constantly trained.  As I said, they won't even look at the chickens when we're in the yard.  Whether we are close to them or even visible or not.  Only when we are not there...
We've fed the chickens between the dog's legs - they won't touch them. 

Instinct is never to be underestimated methinks.

Maybe the solution is to keep the chicken in a coup (even though I hate the idea) when we are away and only open them when we are there.  It would just take some work to get that sorted as the chickens somehow always climp up the inside of fence and fly over...

But hey, the joys of homesteading!!

Thanks a lot

Suzie
 
Roger Merry
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Hi
I sympathise because I've had mixed reactions over the years too. Had 2 Springer Spaniels who were used to having pheasants and other birds (even monkeys) around since puppyhood and never touched them. Hand rearing birds in the house not a problem - but chickens weren't safe. Like you say they wouldn't look at them when I was there but if left alone .......................
The last 2 dogs, also working Springers - (one after the other and maybe thats a big part of the difference) - were used to chickens from day one and the chickens in question were not bothered by anything or any body, least of all an 8 week old pup  I leave the chickens out loose as long as I or the dog is out with them (fox protection) Never had a problem and if this latest youngster ever gets too playful the chickens gang up on him and chase him off !
I'd put the hens in a coop when you're not around because I don't really think you'll stop the behaviour now its started.
The only "old game keepers trick" I know is to tie a big old cockeral to the dog and let it beat the dog up a bit ............ maybe it would work, but its too cruel on both bird and dog for me

So shut them up in a coop with a clear conscience and remember that compared to the life of even the best farmed birds yours are lucky hens !!
 
                              
Posts: 262
Location: Coast Range, Oregon--the New Magic Land
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If you feed chickens treats(like scraps for the kitchen, or blackberries), then they will follow you around and are easy to pen up when needed.

It is good to pen them up when you(someone) aren't there because it lessens the chance of a stray dog etc getting them.
 
                    
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Another (possibly inhumane) old-time (and effective) method I've heard about is to attach the dead chicken to the dog's collar with a piece of wire, so they can't get away from it, til it rots off.  It turns the chicken into a unpleasant experience and is supposed to "cure" a dog of killing chickens. 

No personal experience with that method, our dog leaves chickens and other animals alone, but has been visiting the neighbors a lot lately.....dang animals.  We are facing the possibility of finding him another home.  We need an animal that stays here, and if necessary we will find a different dog.  I guess that can be a tough reality on a homestead. 

In my view, it's not worth feeding an animal that's more of a headache than an asset. 
 
Walter Jeffries
Posts: 1085
Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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Try my electric chicken:

http://flashweb.com/blog/2006/03/killer-kita-training-the-untrainable.html#comment-3754

Works wonders.

Cheers

-Walter
Sugar Mountain Farm
Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
in the mountains of Vermont
Read about our on-farm butcher shop project:
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/butchershop
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/csa
 
                      
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nice electric chicken  works the same as the radio colar i guess if they dont assciate you with the 'punishment' .. (says in a dog voice) mm every time i fixate on a chicken , not even attack i get a little zap those chickens are powerful.
vs everytime my master and the chickens are together i get scolded so i gotta wait til I am alone with the chickens then i dont get scolded..... if you wait til later the dog has no idea why you are upset with them.
  if you raise most pups in with the chicken/goat/sheep they see them as thier flock/pack and protect them which would be good although a rooster may decide it is the pack leader and get ate
if you are effective in becoming the master dog and claim the chickens as higher up than your dog that will work too.
 
Walter Jeffries
Posts: 1085
Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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I'm not sure what you're trying to say with all of that. Our dog's guard and herd chickens as well as pigs, sheep, geese, ducks, etc. Chickens are the hardest animal for dogs to learn to herd in general since they scream "prey" so well. The electric chicken trick has rarely been needed but when needed it works perfectly. I've been breeding, raising and training dogs to work on our farm for over 20 years so I've got a little bit of experience with it - we have a large pack. They're a great help and I wouldn't want to homestead or farm without them.
 
Philip Green
Posts: 45
Location: Southern Ohio (zone 6a)
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I'm having similar trouble... Have a Lab/Malamute mix (bad breed to start with I know, but he came as a free puppy and I figured any dog could be trained). Problem is, I'm not the only member of the household and the other members aren't so good at the training part. I had him trained not to chase, then I left for two weeks and he started chasing. I taught him again and he was down to chasing less then once a week, then I left again and when I come back now he's chasing twice a day (or more).

He chases chickens for fun, not to kill. But he picks on one chicken and over a period of a month (or a couple weeks more recently) or so that chicken will end up dead. He's killed four. Two died from maggots as a result of their feathers being pulled (he would catch it then hold it down and pull it's feathers), one I was told had its neck broken (I didn't see it) but I suspect actually died from complications like the rest, the fourth had a mold growing on its underside that indicated it probably died as a result of stress from the chasing. He has stopped pulling feathers (as far as I've seen), but chases more often.

I am trying the - put him on a tie, tie the dead chicken onto him and leave him for several days, while ignoring him (except to give food and water) - method, we will see how it goes. Never done (or had to do it) before, but nothing else has worked. It's cruel, but it's getting close to the point that the only other option is to give him away (or use a shock collar) and that's kind of cruel as well.

He's a very intelligent and obedient dog and easy to train in most everything else. He clearly understands that he's not supposed to chase chase chickens, but does it anyway.

The thing is I can leave him all day in a small enclosed area with the chickens and he will not have touched one. But give him room to run (and chase) and he will chase them until they die (as long as he doesn't think anyones watching him). I guess if this doesn't work I'll get a shock collar and use the hide, watch and wait until he chases a chicken method.

As long as he's not chasing them he's actually a good guard (the number of chicken deaths per month has decreased since we've gotten him, since predators no longer get to the chickens) - and I believe he's killed 4 chickens over 7 months. So we definitely need a guard dog, and if we get rid of him then we have to go through the whole process again (though next time - if it's necessary - I'm getting a breed better suited for the job).
 
Jay Green
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I have a Lab/Border Collie mix dog that was trained on chickens at 5 mo. of age...and it took all of 20 min. to train him. He is currently 5+ years old and is my flock guard, as he has been for the past 5 years. A lot depends on the relationship you have with your dog and this will determine what he does when you are not looking.

I didn't use electric shock or dead chickens....never have had a dead chicken from this dog.
 
Radka Kolacny
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Philip Green - Sorry, I don't want to come across as a jerk but your dog does NOT clearly understand that he's not supposed to do that when you're not around. He may look and act like he does (all submissive and to our human eyes remorseful) but dogs are expert body language readers - you come out upset about the dead bird and he's reacting to your body language or previous negative associations (when there is a dead bird laying on the yard, my owner get mad at me). I promise. If he understood that there were negative consequences to something he did 2 hours ago that somehow you are aware of, well he'd be a superdog.

For both chicken killer dog owners it seems like you have to either make the chicken chasing/killing unrewarding/unpleasant - a la Walter's experienced suggestion or change the dog's mindset about them by making positive associations with being calm around the chickens. Being calm around chickens > chasing/killing chickens. How you do that depends on what your dog's personality and preferences. The dogs certainly have to be controlled completely around the chickens, rewarded for behaving well and put away for behaving badly (if not being with you is perceived negatively by your dog).

However, I think the key is that he didn't use an electric collar on any of the other dogs - the dog he talks about training was neglected and lacked a lot of foundation socialization I imagine.
So my advice would be to look at your relationship with your dog. Are you his wonderful, amazing human who is the best thing around (you have the dog's attention) or are you of the mindset that you have to be the "dog alpha pack leader" who the dog respects/fears (when you're around...)

I guess for severe dog lovers, if you look into the world of positive reinforcement training, you'll find some answers and build a wonderful, trusting relationship with your dog. The solutions aren't 1/2 hour tv show fast but what do you expect when two conscious, unique, individuals of completely different species are trying to make each other understood.
Otherwise, the quick fix of baiting the chickens somehow so the dog experiences negative consequences for what they're doing while you're not around (very important) will most likely also work.
Regardless of which option works best for your situation, until you train your dogs, you need to manage the situation so they don't have access to chickens - the more they practice the behaviour, the harder it will be to eradicate.
 
Philip Green
Posts: 45
Location: Southern Ohio (zone 6a)
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Well I tried positive reinforcement (starting at about 7 weeks) and it worked (for about 2 months) until I left home and my mom stopped with most of his training (other then telling him not to chase chickens). I've gone back now to giving him only limited (when I'm around) access to the chickens and feeding him with the chickens, making sure he is calm at all times around the chickens. It's not like I've been punishing him only after two hours, I go inside, he starts chasing chickens, I see him chasing chickens through a window and immediately step outside. As soon as he sees me (I don't even have to say anything) he leaves the chicken and hides with tail and eyes down with the "I'm guilty of doing something I'm not supposed to and I know it look". I even have a kennel out there to put him in as punishment and if I see him chasing a chicken he (sometimes) immediately runs into it (indicating that it's not much of a punishment).

I actually have three dogs (two are trained not to hurt chickens, but don't protect them - one is now mostly an inside dog due to age, the other simply does not concern herself with any other living object - except sometimes the human that she tells to pet her or squirrels), so I've done this before successfully. But I've never had one so devoted to chasing (well the Collie actually can and will chase/herd them on command without causing them harm, but she hasn't been allowed to do so/done so with the other dog around) and no she does not in any way assist/encourage the other dogs chasing. He is not the alpha (both other dogs are superior to him, despite the fact that he is easily the largest of our dogs) and he definitely considers me to be the alpha.

One of the issues is simply training that chasing is not allowed. He knows that he cannot harm the chickens (he used to pull feathers but no longer does now he won't touch them) - I can and have leave him in an enclosed area with the chickens for 6+ hours and he will not touch them. But I think he may not understand that the chasing/playing is also not allowed (either that or he understands but does not care or thinks he can get away with it). That's why a shock collar would work (so would a rooster who mean enough to protect his dogs from the hens - but that hasn't happened yet).

P.S. I kept the chicken tied to him for around 36 hours. Not as long as recommended I know. But he won't use the bathroom when tied or kenneled (or apparently when having a chicken tied to him). Never been an issue before, but never kept him tied for more then several hours. Once I realized the problem (wasn't eating food or drinking water, wasn't using bathroom), I decided to take the chicken off for his health and didn't really want to tie a smelling rotten chicken back on to him after that. So far he hasn't chased another chicken, but like I said I've been keeping them more segregated except when I'm around.

P.P.S. I could perhaps teach him to chase, but only when commanded and told it's allowed. That worked very well for the Collie, who's absolute favorite activity (at least when she was younger) was herding/chasing chickens, but she would only do so when permitted and with a human around to direct her. The difference being that Collie's are bred for herding, whereas a Malamute/Lab will probably not do as well (though he doesn't seem to have a prey drive, we also have goats and a cat and he does not hurt either... He will occasionally try to chase them, but they know all they need to do is not run and he will stop.
 
Philip Green
Posts: 45
Location: Southern Ohio (zone 6a)
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Radka Kolacny wrote: If he understood that there were negative consequences to something he did 2 hours ago that somehow you are aware of, well he'd be a superdog.


The thought just popped into my head... Is there any research into this? I know with dogs immediate reward/punishment is the best, but does it mean they can't understand a reward/punishment that occurs far in the future for the actions.

Years ago, when I was young (before I knew anything about dog training), my family had a dog that I taught not to chew up my shoes at night. She was an inside/outside dog and as a teen I was usually the last to go to bed. This dog would chew up shoes when she was inside all night because she'd get bored. As the last to go to sleep I was the one who decided if she slept inside or outside each night.

So, if she chewed on (or moved) my shoes the night before I would put her outside. Otherwise (say if she chewed on my little sisters shoes) I would let her sleep inside - I only cared about my shoes after all (and my sister left her shoes out all the time - so she was just asking for them to be chewed on whereas I put mine away (though they were still in a place the dog could get access to)). The result: A dog that wouldn't touch my shoes, but would chew on anyones else's shoes that she could get a hold of. Two pairs of shoes could be sitting side by side, but if one pair was mine it wouldn't be touched (but the pair right next to mine might be chewed to pieces). This continued for a number of years, later (when I went to college), I could even bring home a pair of shoes she had never seen before - but they smelled like mine and she wouldn't touch them (her shoe chewing slowed later in her life, but continued until she was 9 or 10).

I don't recall doing anything else. Maybe I told her "no" in the morning now and then when she chewed on my shoes, but everyone else did that (and even that is a punishment occurring several hours late). Or maybe she was a superdog. Or maybe we underestimate dogs abilities to understand, maybe the problem isn't the long time span, but the difficulty they would have after in figuring out which action exactly they were being rewarded/punished for. Maybe my punishment was consistent enough, that even though the action had occurred 12-24 hours before she could figure it out. I don't know, I just find it odd, knowing all I've learned about dog training now, that what I did before worked.

 
Radka Kolacny
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Hmmm, I'm quite sure there is but I can't say I could find any specific research on the WWW... I did find an article about 'guilt' in dogs which you might find interesting:
http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/thoughtful-animal/2012/05/31/do-dogs-feel-guilty/
The information about dog's memory is something that I've read repeatedly but without giving it too much thought/personal research of my own. It's definitely true that they are complicated, intelligent beings and I don't see why it wouldn't be possible for your dog growing up to understand. Maybe she was a superdog (or a normal dog without our biased opinions)
My limited understanding of dog's mind leads me to believe that maybe she respected/liked you more and the times when you did scold her for chewing your shoes stuck in her mind more... Maybe she learned not to not chew your shoes, but that she should avoid your shoes in general because you would get upset when your shoes were around her sometimes. But who knows?
Very interesting stuff you bring up.
 
Elliot Everett
Posts: 29
Location: Coastal Uruguay. Wet winters, hot and dry summers. 1000 mm annual rain.
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We have had some great initial success with an electronic collar on one of our mutts who generally behaves well but went insane when we were leaving in the car, so much that he lost the tips of his teeth while battling the car. After a few zaps and a few reminders with the vibration button while in the act, he is a changed dog. He is not interested in going after the car at all now. I imagine that he will need a refresher now and again, but that's not a big deal.

If your dog understands "no" and you get him in the act of chasing chickens (the behavior to be corrected must be occurring at the time of correction, never after), then the collar should work. I got the "Epica 2 dog collar" system on Amazon for about USD 50. Seems like a decent product.

I am now debating on how I can correct some undesirable, but not horrible behavior with another (very spoiled) mutt.
 
c cagle
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I think it's normal for dogs in their 'terrible teens' (6 months - 18 months) to try out chasing livestock - such fun! Our english shepherd mix went from perfect behavior to hassling ducks to death. After the first death a neighbor counseled us to 'catch her in the act and slap her on the head with a fly swatter'. Horrible! But we put a fly swatter in the barn, just in case the perfect moment arrived. A mere few hours later DH caught the dog in the barn with a dead duck in her mouth and did slap her in the head with the swatter for a minute or two while yelling angrily. The dog has never chased nor harmed any livestock animal again (squirrels and chipmunks are another matter).

Ironically we were in the process of switching out breeds of ducks from muscovies to pekin. The two ducks the dog killed were my absolute favorite muscovies, a breeding pair, and I was having the hardest time getting rid of them as I was so fond of them. The dog solved my dilemna for me. Did she know I needed help? One of those head scratchers.

This is the only time we've ever come close to physical punishment for a dog of ours and while it was awful both to contemplate and do it did end the animal killing.
 
Philip Green
Posts: 45
Location: Southern Ohio (zone 6a)
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I didn't get a shock collar and now don't think I will need one (almost broke down and got one, but after reading about their potential effects of dogs personality I decided to wait until every other option had been eliminated). He seems to have mostly stopped chasing.

I limited chicken access, restarted positive training and added a RIR rooster that I got free from craigslist (he was being given away because he was too aggressive towards people and I was like a mean RIR sounds perfect).

It took the RIR rooster a while to adopt the flock (and get integrated with the other two roosters), but he is aggressive towards the dog unlike the other two roosters. Now that he's part of the flock he will chase the dog to defend his flock. And apparently the new rooster has a positive effect on the other two roosters. Because last time the dog got too close to a hen he was chased off by a 3 rooster (1 RIR, 1 Golden Wyandotte, 1 Bantam) brigade.

The dog is also going to be getting fixed soon (which might will help even more). But I think having the chickens protect themselves is the easiest solution (it's like a shock collar except I don't have to do anything). The dog doesn't chase our cat (it's a vicious cat and taught him as a puppy without any input from me) and doesn't chase goats (lots of head-butts as a puppy taught him), the chickens were just a bit slow in learning self defense. I think because he enjoys the act of chasing but not of killing, that if the chasing problem does reoccur (hopefully it won't and I'm continuing working with him and limiting chicken access), the roosters will solve it for me. Chasing is a lot less fun when you get attacked by three roosters.
 
John Polk
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Yeah. Some people do not like RIR roosters because of their aggressive behavior.
I like them precisely because of their behavior.

Other than breeding (which RIR's excel at), the main reason to keep a roo' is for flock protection.
I don't want a docile 'pet' rooster for that.

Hopefully, he will take that chore out of your hands. Nice to see that he is 'leading by example'.

 
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