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HELP! BC killing chickens

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Morning all. I've got a big problem. Hondo is a working cattle dog. He hasn't been out much because it was too hot to expect him to run 10 miles a day after a herd of cattle in 98 degree weather. He has been staying just up the hill at my husband's grandparents. Grandma allows her chickens to roam the yard days, and puts them in nights. Whereas my chickens have an outdoor run and never run outside their fencing.

 

2 days ago Hondo was up at Grandma's and was seen to be "attacking" a chicken" by Grandpa. He was yelled at and left off and wandered away, but may have bitten a leg making the hen limp a bit It isn't like him to attack anything but I can't doubt him, as I saw him chasing one 2 days before and called him off with a severe scolding.

 

This Guinie hen has turned up dead. They think my BC did it. I don't , but he WAS chasing this Guinie hen. To boot there is a fox family living not far from the house. I think that Hondo might have sored it up and the fox got it. BUT either way, I can't have him chasing chickens , especially since we are moving up there within a month.

 

Can anyone help us by giving me some advice on how to get him to stop? Grandma says hang the dead chicken around his neck for a few days..but I don't think this will work.

 

 

Dianne

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I definitely wouldn't hang the dead chicken around his neck, that would mean absolutely nothing in dog language.

 

I've heard of others bringing up this issue on the forum. Short answer people gave was: don't leave the dog unattended around chickens. You might try a search or two to see if one of them comes up.

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If you hung a dead chicken around my dogs' neck they would think you were giving them a take out meal. I know it's a popular remedy for "curing" a dog of chicken killing, but so is putting a garbage raider in a garbage can and beating the crap out of the can. I don't know that it teaches the dog anything other than people are weird.

 

I agree with Natalie. Don't set the dog up for failure. Keep him away from the chickens.

 

RDM

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Most of my dogs don't even see the chickens, even if they are under their noses. But I have one dog that?s intent on chasing and catching the chickens. She isn't trying to kill them but that is the outcome if allowed to do it.

I have a good handle on her when I'm around but I fear that I will never be able to stop her interest so she is one that will never be left alone with the chickens. I have noticed that as the dogs grow in sheep work chickens become less intresting but for this little pup, they are a play toy.

So my advice is don't let Hondo be around the chickens alone...at least till you know he's safe.

What would hanging a dead chicken around his neck do but make him really stinky? That's a stink my animals don't mind but I do!!

 

Kristen

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I don't know why training for this would be any different than say, training not to chase cars or kids. I would put a lead on him and walk him around the chickens, giving what ever rewards/corrections you do in training. I would give that a try. The fewer successes he makes, the easier the training will be. IE, when on lead he can't start the chasing. So, I think, he will soon find that it is unacceptable. He may never be 100% in regards to the chickens, but you shouldn't have to worry when someone is around.

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I would think this would be the same as training not to herd sheep unless you told them to do so. BC's have been used to herd geese and ducks - in fact some airports even use them to keep geese on the runways. I would think BC's might view chickens in the same way. I can understand why a working dog might herd the chickens and nip legs if the chickens weren't cooperating. Sorry, I'm not much help.

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The bird control dogs are pretty much chasing, not herding, so the training wouldn't be the same.

 

Once a dog is hooked on killing or harassing poultry, I wouldn't trust that dog around birds anymore. Killing birds is so easy that it's like crack for highly prey-driven dogs. The time to teach impulse control is before they've made that first kill, unfortunately.

 

This is one of the reasons that it's best to keep a working dog locked up when you can't supervise.

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Rebecca,

I've got to disagree with you (for once). Several of my dogs have killed poultry, and been taught to never do it again, as have some of my friends' dogs. It's pretty common for people around here to have border collies and free range poultry co-existing. I have a feeling that *some* dogs cannot be taught, but wouldn't rule out teaching a dog that's killed once/chased not to. But I DO agree with you that it's better to do the teaching before something gets killed and to keep young dogs contained where they cannot learn bad habits that become ingrained.

 

Regarding teaching -- I generally don't use a long line. What I like to do is catch the pup when they first show interest in something I don't want them to mess with(e.g., look at a chicken) and tell them "get out of it" (or what ever). Then I get them interested in something else. This intervention, of course, assumes that they understand "get out of it"/no. If I catch them in the act (let them down by not supervising well enough), I read them the riot act (what this involves depends upon the dog). I have heard about the "chicken around the neck" cure repeatedly over the years but do not understand its purpose nor have I (needed to) tried it.

 

Kim

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Kim, do you leave a dog that has killed birds loose and unsupervised with birds after that? That's what I meant. There's some dogs I know that you could leave out all day with the chickens or ducks, and you'd have the same headcount when you came back. Most of mine will, when commanded to ignore them: walk by them, lie down, let them walk all around them - but if I left them for long enough, it would be Pekin Duck for dinner!

 

I think the chicken around the neck thing comes from coondog or rabbit dog training where you train the dog against "trash hunting" by flooding them with the scent of whatever they are running - tying on a deer scent gland, or possum scent on a felt pad, or whatever - or just periodically going and spraying them in the face with the scent (yay). That kind of makes sense - I don't think the chicken thing would carry over the same way, though. I like the carry out comment. Mine sure would view it as a takeout snack.

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Kim, do you leave a dog that has killed birds loose and unsupervised with birds after that?
Actually, I do . . . my Zoe killed a couple of ducks when she was young and (now) I let her stay out for long parts of the day, relatively unsupervised (I always have an ear/eye on my property and when I'm not home, the dogs are in). Yeats also killed a duck or chicken when he was young - I don't let him out unsupervised (for other reasons). She's 11 years old and Yeats is 9, so I have a pretty good idea of their "track record." My friend, Kevin, also has a 12 year old former chicken killer (border collie) who has not killed in years. Maybe it was "youthful exuberance" or maybe it's that they learned that killing was not OK (Zoe and Yeats regularly kill mice and (Yeats) groundhogs - Zoe killed two mice this a.m. as a matter of fact) . . . Ironically, each of these dogs likes herding the birds while my other guys don't (I've got a picture of Tag herding chickens on my website, if I remember correctly). But I'm absolutely sure that these dogs will not kill my poultry. I have to be sure -- I have a couple of mute swans that are irreplaceable. Besides that, I?m not cavalier about my dogs killing/hurting animals needlessly (I consider killing rodents a useful function).

 

Kim

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I suppose I have trust issues with my dogs - or it might be that most of them picked up the habit later in life, unfortunately, while I was learning the difference between a secure poultry yard and a REALLY secure poultry yard. :rolleyes:

 

It's not me, because my Border collies split right down the middle on being "safe". Jen and Ann are fine while Doug and Ben would take one out in a New York minute, if they thought they could get away with it.

 

Oddly, Jen and Ann are my best goosedogs and duck working dogs. Go figure. Maybe they've got their mind on their work and not on Duck a l'orange.

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Duck a l'orange.
That's usually me!

 

I guess the lesson of this is that there are no clear "rules." It's just something you have to learn with/about your own dogs . . . (Containment is fool-proof, I guess).

 

The "trust issue" is an interesting topic, in itself. I don't always trust my dogs and when I don't trust them, they tend to screw up (chicken or egg?). This kind of relates to that article posted in another thread. Always enjoy "speaking with you", Rebecca!

 

Kim

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I take my dogs all into the coop with me twice a day. When they're young they will sometimes show interest in chasing the chickens and I have to establish that chasing is not allowed. Once that has been established the dogs just enjoy going out to the coop with me to 1. have a good run aroudn the field on the way out there, 2., chase the mice that seem to always be in the coop at night., 3. hopefully get an egg if they're lucky. My chickens haven't free ranged in years, but that's because of foxes and raccoons that we had around. Each year I keep meaning to fence a large yard for them and never seem to get around to it, but they do have a huge coop. Every so often when I'm doing chores or cleaning the coop a chicken or two might slip out a doorway, and that's when the dogs are permitted to go after them. By taking the dogs right in with the chickens they get so used to seeing each other they mostly just ignore one another if they do get loose together. And if the chicken sits still or moves slowly, it doesn't stimulate the dog to chase like if the chicken flaps and runs awasy. My rabbits do the same thing Their hutches are in the backyard, and sometimes when their doors are open they'll come out to eat the grass in the yard. If the dogs come sniffing around them they generally just sit still. If they do run to their cages the dogs will chase, but otherwise they just stand there sniffing.

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Thanks everyone. I think Hondo is just playing, but we are trying to nip it in the bud immediately. Yesterday I caught him chasing and gave him a firm scolding. He's really sensitive ( like a lot of BC) and dropped on the spot and put his head on his feet, looking miserable.

 

I hate the trick of the chicken around the neck. It just makes no sense to me either. Then they still get what they wanted. Besides..eeeew I'm not letting such a smelly dog into the house lol.

 

When Hondo is out, we supervise all free time, except when the Grandparents are doggie sitting them. He never did this with chickens until he say another dog do it. He's still young, and hasn't been worked lately, so he may just be bored, despite having 3 other dogs to play with at Grandma's.

 

We moved my chickens up to Grandma's yesterday, so now, since they are with hers, mine are free ranging. So we'll see how it works. All we can do is keep and eye out and snag him if he misbehaves. I do like the idea of taking him with me to feed, check eggs etc. I wonder if Grandma would mind lol.

 

Thanks all for the tips.

 

 

Dianne

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Dianne,

I have a friend who did the chicken around the neck thing and swears it worked. She did it with only one of her mutliple dogs as near as I can remember (meaning she taught the others to leave the chickens alone by some other method). The dog in question may have been the failed LGD, but I can't remember.

 

For my own dogs, I simply taught them to leave the chickens alone. I sort of broke that rule when Lark was real little by letting her chase the roosters that kept attacking me. But she now leaves them alone.

 

All of my dogs share the yard with my chickens. Two are *very* interested in them, but only in the sense of moving them around or stopping their movement. Where I have to be careful is if a rooster or hen with chicks takes exception to being stared at (i.e., dog within inches of poor hapless chicken) or blocked from moving where they want to go. If hen or rooster attacks the dog, then the dog may snap at the chicken. Since these are tiny bantams, a snap that landed wrong could do serious damage or death. But I take it as my responsibility to keep a closer eye on things when chicks are out and about....

 

Interestingly, the dog who pesters the chickens the most is the only one who will also work the chickens (which is handy when I need to get the free rangers up for some reason). The rest view the chickens and neither "food on the hoof, er, foot" nor as livestock suitable for working.

 

J.

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We just had three dogs get in with our chickens this week. Two dogs were mine and one was a BC I'm babysitting. Our chickens are free to roam in our back orchard area which is separated from the rest of the yard with a cyclone fence. I heard squawking on my deck and knew right away the dogs had gotten into the back area. I came out and the three had my 8 yr old little white silky on the deck and were pulling her feathers out. I thought for sure she was a goner. I think the dogs had popped the gate while playing - the posts had apparently moved after all the rain we had earlier so it wasn't latching really well. My youngest son and I were out back in our pajamas trying to catch each chicken that looked like it might be hurt so we could look it over for injuries (I'm sure the neighbors found it amusing). There were just two hens that were hurt. The poor silky got the worst of it - they had plucked her bald on her back and tail. She was kind of in shock, but snapped out of it and laid an egg later that day. She's still limping as is the other one, but I am truly amazed the dogs didn't kill either. Needless to say there is now a nice secure chain on the fence.

 

I only have one dog I trust with the chickens unsupervised and I have used her to work the chickens to get them in their pen when needed. The rest would probably need serious chicken aversion training :rolleyes: . My feeling is don't tempt the dogs Keep the chickens secured from the dogs unless supervised.

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