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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Is there anything I haven't tried, that you guys could recommend??

Smokie wants to play with the chickens. The chickens are fragile. Tragedy results. The chickens are generally kept cooped up, but escapes are inevitable -- and he killed two recently when my other dog dug under the coop gate. My other dog just wanted to gorge on grain. (And then barf it up, but that's another story.)

(I've watched him -- it's genuine play behavior, with bowing and play barking. He's trying to play with them like he would with another dog. I assumed it was prey drive at first, but it doesn't seem to be after a bit of observation.)

I've tried:

-- Lots of yelling
-- Making him wear a shock collar and zapping him from inside the house when he so much as looks at a chicken
-- Tying a dead chicken to the electric fence. My other dog -- the one who normally ignores the birds -- tried to grab it and walk off with it. It'll be interesting to see if Oliver will ever eat raw chicken in the future. (Oliver was supposed to be penned up; he'd gotten out and I didn't know it.) Smokie witnessed the other dog yelp and dive under the house and refused to touch the bird after that. I haven't had a conveniently dead chicken since then to try again, though I may butcher some this weekend.
-- Walking him on a leash around the birds; correcting him when he so much as looks at them.

I now have a dog who ignores chickens in my presence. If I'm not around, and he's not wearing a shock collar ... :flame:

(As I noted before, I'm looking for another home for him. He was a rescue. In the interim, however, I might as well keep working away at this ...)

Any other suggestions?
 

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Funny you should post this today as I got a pretty good laugh yesterday afternoon when I watched my chickens feed up to and around one of my GSD's that was sleeping under a tree in the backyard. When the birds woke her she simply lifted her head up and looked around at the birds then flopped back down with a sigh.
I managed to stop my dogs from chasing the chickens by allowing them to ,hold onto your hat and try not to laugh, herd the flock; into their coop at night, out of places where they shouldn't be, i.e. my shop or flower beds. I can assure you that few things are as funny as a standoff between a 6 pound chicken and a 60 pound shepherd but the dogs enjoy moving the birds and it has stopped them from chasing the birds when they're not supposed to as they know that when they get after the birds when I tell them to they get treats and praise so I guess it's worth the wait for them.
 

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I feel your pain. I have a beautiful red tri-colored aussie who is the light of my life, but he simply cannot help himself when a chicken starts squawking and flapping and running...three things chickens do with great regularity. I've tried everything. He wouldn't dig into the pen, but if the (as you put it) inevitible escapee landed in his yard, forget it. I have beaten him with the carcass, everything. Finally, I gave up and sold the chickens. Now I'm in a different situation and I find I'm trying to figure out how to re-introduce chickens. Some of us never learn.
Gotta tell a quick story...One day I noticed one missing, so I started searching Dash's yard (he was our orchard guardian and his territory was adjacent to the chicken yard). He sat innocently while I wandered over an acre, searching for feathers. I had just about decided a hawk had been the guilty party when I walked past Dash. I looked down into his innocent face and spotted one lonely downy feather sticking to his lower lip. He gave me the most loving, innocent look, as if to say "I still love you even if I've been wrongly accused". I just shook my head and went to the house.
Good luck in your efforts with Smokie
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I don't particularly want to do any herding work with Smokie until he has basic obedience mastered. He understands down, come, sit and 'out' (out of the pen, out of the house) but he's not reliable. 'Stay' is not yet in his vocabulary.

Kinda hard to teach herding without a down/stay. (Sigh ...) He does have quite a bit of herding drive.

Also, I may be wrong, I suspect he'll be very rough when he learns to work stock (if he's still around here after he masters the obedience basics.) Much better suited to 200 pound goats who NEED their ankles and noses nipped to get them moving than chickens that die when the dog nips them.

(Mind, if I can conquer his chicken problem, I could use a tough dog with the goats. I have one big wether who's a PITA and won't move unless *I* get after him.)

-- Leva
 

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From what I've read here and in other posts it sounds like the dog has the brains for the job and maybe starting him on goats would be good for him even if a little unreliable now with stay and down, just a thought. I know that the idea of getting my dogs to try and work chickens was born out of pure frustration with chasing and it sure as heck took some work. I do wish you luck though with this situation.
 

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When I was younger I had a GSD who killed chickens. I don't know if this remedy was dumb luck or whatever I just know it worked for me. One morning when he killed one I tied it to his collar then tied him rather short ( about 5 or 6 feet long ) and left him there all day and everytime I looked at him I shamed him and told him how bad he was for killing the chicken. It was a goofy remedy but somehow it worked.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Teaching herding without some sort of reliable "out" -- a down/stay or a sit/stay -- just tends to lead to the dog chasing the livestock recklessly, with no control from the handler. You need to be able to put the brakes on and STOP the dog if they're pushing the goats in the wrong direction or the goats are about to run through the fence they're so worked up, or the goats are where you need them to be.
 

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I really don't think you'll be able to make a lot of progress unless you can fully control his access to chickens. I know you have them penned, but obviously it's not 100%. Pretty much you need to have a shock collar on him any time that he could possibly come in contact with a chicken and the kicker is you have to be watching him any time that he could possibly come in contact with a chicken. This could take months. I don't blame you in the slightest for trying to re-home him! I doubt I could devote the time and energy needed to remedy this problem with him.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Goldenmom -- I may take the approach you're alluding to. He hasn't been allowed outside the house except on a leash since he came back from the failed placement. I also have baby goats he could potentially "play" with and, well, if I lose a chicken I just lost a dinner. If I lose a baby Nigerian that's a much bigger loss, emotionally and financially.

I might "set him up" after having him wear the shock collar for several days. Open the chicken pen door, turn him loose outside, and watch out the window. Rinse, lather, repeat as necessary.

I've tried this before, but I didn't make him wear the shock collar for an extended period beforehand -- just a few hours. He's figured out shocks come from the shock collar and if he's not wearing it, and I'm not around, he's free to chase.

I think I'll try making him wear it every minute he's not in his crate and then setting him up for a zap after wearing the collar is just part of his daily routine. I don't know if that will make a difference (he's a smart, smart dog) ... he may either simply not chase anything, or if he does, know he's safe when the collar eventually comes off.

You know, sometimes I really hate working with the smart ones. I much prefer the dumb dogs that learn what you want, do it consistently, and don't think of ways to get around what they're being taught.

-- Leva
 

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You know, sometimes I really hate working with the smart ones. I much prefer the dumb dogs that learn what you want, do it consistently, and don't think of ways to get around what they're being taught.
I know what you mean! I'd try leaving the collar on all the time if you can. You can turn it off when he's in the house, etc. but leave it buckled on always. That way he doesn't really know if he *has to* behave. He sounds so darn smart that this sounds like it will be a long process, but I'll bet once he really learns not to play so rough with the stock that the lesson will stay learned!
 

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You actually can start on herding without the down stay. I feel the leave it command is the most important. That is one of the first commands I teach my pups....I teach it before sit or down even. Start with inanimate objects and work from there. If you have the control of them leaving it...then no damage will be done even if the dog will not stay. It is easier for young pups to master as it does not require them to sit or lie still when they want to be moving.
 

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umm..good luck. in the 12 years i had my ACD, i was never able to cure him of killing anything smaller than a goat.
i once lost 5 cats in one summer to the dog....
 

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Perhaps he will simply need to be muzzled when he is near the areas where the chickens are?? Not a longterm solution, but would help preserve your flock and your sanity for the time being.
 

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HI! we have two dogs, a standard poodle and a blueheeler and used to have chickens(a raccoon...) but we trained them to "pretty much" not to chase the chickens. In a nutshell it's all about teaching them "no" or "knock it off" in all areas of their world--you are the pack leader and you are the boss. The blueheeler was obviously the harder one to break of it, she did not want to kill so much as "taste" and chase. One big thing was we taught the dogs that the chicken coop was none of their business, that was off limits, even if the gate was open. THen a process of widening circles--no you may not bite at the chickens through the fence, no you may not chase the loose chickens on the lawn, yes, you let the chicken eat from your bowl, no you can't chase it away from your food--proof:


This issue was on the Dog Whisperer show recently. Basically first he made the dog respect that the chicken was his (Cesar Milan's) property, and the dog had no business having it. He held the chicken and sat next to the dog and did his doggie voodoo--the dog must lay down in calm submissive, and any interest shown in the chicken was corrected, the dog was not allowed to show interest(the shhht noise and tap on the neck). He said he was also desensitizing the dog to the chicken--he also advised the owners to take the dog to be hunt trained to fetch ducks(it was a lab). Basically the dog needs to be focused on you the pack leader instead of distracted by the chicken.

It was funny cuz the chicken pooped on Cesar then layed an egg :D
 

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ps, the heeler could care less about a shock collar :D
 
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