You’re out hunting and the chase is on. Accompanying you on the hunt is your trusty bird dog. You are trying hard to develop a working relationship, where you shoot the birds and he retrieves them for you.
You are specifically training him to hunt and retrieve birds and game, but preventing him from chasing your chickens and killing them is easier said than done. You want him to feature in your Snapchat story and play a prominent role on your Facebook, but if he has a dead chicken hanging from its mouth in every photo, you might not stay so popular on social media.
It’s in a bird dog's nature to target and retrieve birds, so getting him to fight that urge is going to be no easy feat. Fortunately, there are a number of methods used to tackle this behavior. One method looks to train him to 'sit' and 'drop'. Using obedience commands to combat this behavior will not only prevent the killing of chickens but will make teaching him other commands easier too.
Other methods concentrate on familiarizing him with chickens, so he can differentiate between chickens for dinner and chickens as work or as friends. The command itself will be easier to teach if he is a puppy, as older dogs are usually more stuck in their ways.
The key to this type of training is consistency. It may require weeks and possibly months before you can fully trust your hunting pal around chickens.
Before you begin, you need to ensure your chickens are secured before bringing your dog out around them. You will also need some treats on hand to praise him for good behavior, and to distract him from the chicken dinner he’ll have in mind.
You will also need enough outdoor space to ensure a safe distance between your dog and the chickens to start with. The only other things you'll need are a proactive attitude and patience!
Now you’re armed with all the essentials, it’s time to get to work!
Is there any specific way I can ensure that Phineas doesn’t burrow his way into the coop?
Hello Grace, You can either teach avoidance of chickens in general or use something like an a pet barrier device that transmits a signal that corresponds to a collar that the dog wears. The transmitter can be setup where the chickens won't bother it by the coop and the range adjusted so that the collar only goes off if the dog is close to the chicken coop boundary. Here is one brand of pet barrier device. https://www.amazon.com/PetSafe-Barriers-Adjustable-Proofing-Stimulation/dp/B002GQDUBW Many people also choose to simply bury the chicken wire very deep to prevent all predators from getting in. If the chicken coop stays in one location this can be a great option because it will help keep other animals like coyotes out too. If your chicken coop moves often to allow free range feeding you will need to teach avoidance or use a barrier device if your pup is a determined digger. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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