Whether you are a hobby farmer with a few chickens pecking around the yard or a chicken farmer with dozens of chickens in various barns and pens, imagine how nice it would be if your four-legged friend could help with them. The good news is that once you have trained your dog to herd chickens, he should be able to herd many other birds and animals with equal success.
Imagine how much extra time you would have on your hands once your dog is trained to herd and protect your flock. Providing your dog is a breed with natural herding instincts, the training will go relatively smoothly. However, this is a relatively complicated chore for you to teach him, so be prepared to spend plenty of time in the sun working with your pooch until you know you can trust him around the chickens and that he will herd them anywhere you send him.
Herding is, for certain breeds, an instinctive behavior. The idea is that when the training is done, your dog will be able to round up your flock of chickens and then move them into their coop at night or to a new part of the garden as required. It is, in fact, a series of commands you must teach your dog to understand and follow rather than just one command.
Before you can train him to herd, you must first teach him a few basic commands. He needs to already know 'come', 'sit', 'stay', and 'fetch'. Now you have to teach him directions. In the world of herding, the command 'Come Bye' is used to indicate turn the flock to the right. The command 'Away' is used to turn the flock to the right.
Beyond the fact your dog needs to be one of the many breeds who have a natural herding instinct such as Collies, German Shepherds, Australian Shepherds, Welsh Corgis, and many others, it takes hard work to train your dog to herd chickens. You should be aware there is a potential for your dog to injure one or more of your chickens during the training process, so extreme vigilance is required until you feel safe with him around the chickens.
As stated above, work with your dog until he understands both 'Come By' and 'Away' and performs these maneuvers flawlessly. You can use verbal commands for this or, if you are feeling brave, a whistle such as professional herders use. You will need a few things:
It goes without saying that if your dog gets too close to your chickens, he might forget himself during the initial training period. During this time, you should keep him on his leash. Due to this risk, you need to work slowly and methodically with your pup to minimize this risk. The idea is to get to the end of the training and be able to say, "No animals were harmed in the training of my dog." One last thing, you need to wait until your dog is a young adult, because puppies are less likely to respond to this training as they are too inquisitive.