You got some backyard chickens and you're ready to introduce them to your dogs. Here are some simple steps that will help guide you through that process.
Before we get into it, first we must talk about why dogs chase chickens. Dogs are carnivores, and most of them were bred to hunt their prey. However, just because your dog is chasing your chicken, that doesn't necessarily mean they want to kill. It could just mean they want to play. Let's not get too ahead of ourselves though — back to the basics.
Things to Consider
Dogs and chickens both need their own space, a place where they can feel safe. Your dogs should never be allowed into the chickens coop. The coop is a safe haven and it should be a place where your chickens feel protected. Your dog should stay in your home or in it's dog house. Both animals need their own spots to relax and sleep.
Different breeds of both chickens and dogs have their own temperaments and behaviors. You'll want to take that into account before introducing your dogs to your chickens. For example, chicken breeds that are docile are great with dogs and children. Those breeds include Silkies, Sussex, Buckeyes, Australorps and Easter Eggers. Dog breeds known to be friendly towards chickens include Collies, Great Pyrenees and Anatolian Shepherds. Dogs known for being aggressive towards feathery animals include Huskies, Jack Russell Terriers, Greyhounds and more. These breeds are just some examples and we urge you to do your own research beforehand.
Health and Age
This is pretty self-explanatory, but you want to make sure both dogs and chickens are young and healthy before introducing them to each other.
How to Prepare Your Dogs
Establishing the "Alpha"
To establish this type of relationship with your dog, it helps to teach your dog basic commands. Obedience training also helps teach your dog how to respect you and trust you.
Make Sure Your Dog is Exercised
You want your dogs happy, well-exercised and fed prior to meeting your chickens. You could also take your dogs on a walk before meeting with the chickens to get their wiggles out! Really, any kind of exercise will work so they are more calm and less rambunctious before the meeting.
How to Prepare Your Chickens
Chickens are all about trust. They develop trust for you when you feed them, give them water and care for them. They associate their humans with food and security. Therefore, if they see you with your dogs, they will know they can probably trust the dogs too!
Finally, the Introductions
After much preparation, it's finally time for the official introduction. It will take time, but you can start by having them meet from a distance. You can put your dog on a leash and let your chicken roam freely. That's a great first introduction so your chicken feels safe and your dog can observe. The next time they meet, you'll want them both to be in a place where they feel safe, like an area they are both comfortable in, in your yard. Keep your dog on the leash still, but allow them to get closer and friendlier. Try giving them snacks so they aren't too focused on the stress of seeing each other. It will take some time, but you'll know when you can let them both roam freely and comfortably. Always remember to take it slow.
Hopefully our tips helped you if you're thinking about introducing your dog to your chickens. Next week, we will go over this a little more in depth do you will feel more comfortable about the introductions!