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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi so we have an almost 7 yr old border collieXlabrador female who is just obsessed with chickens. She wasn't like this as a pup but at about the one year mark she suddenly showed interest.
Now it has never been much of a problem. The chickens have their own area fenced off so what she does is runs up and down the fenceline, lays down at the fence and naws the wire when the chickens get close and she whines when they leave.

Unfortunately a few months ago we got a batch of chickens who mangage to
escape from their pen. Now anytime she sees one out she will run down to it, watch it and then when someone comes to put it back she will grab it by the back of the neck or it's wings and try to hold on. If we see one out we often try to get it before she notices but as soon as we make a move she is off towards it and no amount of calling her name or comands stops her. Now the strangest behaviour is that she will sometimes carry one up to the house, holding it with her mouth around it's neck and it hangs ouas if it were dead. She sets it down on the grass between her paws and begins to lick at it's neck.

Now about a month ago we found one of the chickens dead in the yard with bite wounds to it's neck. That was the only injury and we will never know 100% what killed it but whatever it was did not try to eat it. So now with our older chooks dying we've bought another batch of chicks that she is just as obsessed with and while we can manage it, it would be nice if someone could shed some light on our dogs behaviour and whether anyone has any suggestions as to if anything can be done to a minimize her response?
 

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Electric poultry net fence will fix your problem.

I have two bird dogs and 12 chickens. The dogs won't look at a chicken.

Although its a one or two time hard lesson for the dogs, I do believe this is a more humane, less traumatic solution than the person trying to discipline the dog for running chickens. The training sets itself up with perfect timing. There is a moment when the dog looks at a chicken and gets zapped on the nose. It is the perfect association, and the human is not part of the equation so the dog does not associate you with any of it. I think it is equivalent to a dog finding out that snapping at bees is not a good idea.

Besides, you won't have any other predators after your chooks if you get some electric put up.
 
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I always wondered about those, Tess. We have a few homes around here that use them and i wondered if the dose that was high enough to keep out predators was high enough to get a fried chicken, no oil required.:D

Hi Menzieb. If the expense is too much or you don't like the idea, getting the dog to sublimate (as in psychology not chemistry ...that's for your benefit, Tess;)) the predator instinct but keep the hunter instinct may work. Looking up how to train hearding dogs will help you garner some techniques. Also, instead of waiting for a situation to happen and reacting with commands that are ignored, try training him to sit-stay or lay-stay when you go through the chicken's gate. That way, when it's an emergency, he doesn't dart in there before you do.

Or try an emergency recall command. Admittedly, this isn't something my own dog has mastered and I have doubts about it working if she was too far over the mental threshhold into fixation. The concept requires a few things : an obvious hand signal your dog can see from far away and one that is not used for any other commands plus in a position he can reach (straight out to the side maybe). For smaller dogs, crouch down but keep in mind the crouch will now be part of the command; a word you would NEVER use otherwise (make one up or go foreign); very yummy treats and when I say yummy i mean yummy. If your dog already gets table scraps or human food then choose some stuff they reallllllly love and start using them only for this command, switching it up among the choices; regular weekly practice once mastered; and never using it to call the dog to you without one of these very high value rewards. (Obviously in a real emergency, you may not havethe treats on you. In that case, as it is an anomaly, keeping up with the training will compensate for this.) Bbut for using it to call him off the chickens, you should be able to keep a handy supply close to the area.

Start with 5 or 10 minute sessions or however long your dog can handle happily and do it daily for the first couple weeks, then weekly when mastered. After a while, monthly refreshers may be enough but if the dog lags when responding, up the frequency again.

After getting in your position (arm out, crouched down if needed, etc) begin with the treat between your fingers so that the dog has to touch your hand to get it...like just a tiny bit of it poking out. Just let the dog take it. As SOON as the dog's nose touches your hand say the word (and click if you are going to use a clicker.) Do this for the first few days. Then get in position and say the word from farther away. When the dog touches his nose to your hand you click if you are using a clicker as they take the treat. Otherwise give praise. As he gets better, add distrctions until you can work up to your dog's biggest distractions of all. If you are worried about it working when you think he is ready for the big-time, have a long rope ready to stop him with if it fails. That way, you can test it without risking the chickens.

Hope thatmakes sense! Good luck.
 

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Amazingly, the chickens seem to not even notice the fence electricity. I've seen them walk on the hot wire with no effect. I suspect its because their feet are so dry and scaly. The shock only happens if you are grounded. Don't go out barefoot in wet grass and accidentally touch the fence. ;)

(although really, the shock is pretty light, but very startling to animals that don't know what its about, which is why its effective.)
 

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Amazingly, the chickens seem to not even notice the fence electricity. I've seen them walk on the hot wire with no effect. I suspect its because their feet are so dry and scaly. The shock only happens if you are grounded. Don't go out barefoot in wet grass and accidentally touch the fence. ;)

(although really, the shock is pretty light, but very startling to animals that don't know what its about, which is why its effective.)
Ah...I was thinking of something else....these fences are uprtight an go around the area, not over it. At least, not that i could see from the road.
 

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Sounds like wonderful advice! Just wondering if your dog is bored bec. BCs need a JOB to do! Our houla NEEDS to chase chipmunks out in the back yard two hours a day and we encourage it. Unfortunately our one cat "caught on" and now brings mice into the house and drops them in front of our dog...and there goes the furniture. The cat loves to tease the dog!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hi everyone thanks for the wonderful advice. awp, I will try that technique with her and if I don't have much luck I may look future into an electric fence.

pkelley, I will keep a closer eye on her to see if it looks like she is a bit lost for a job. Your cat reminds me of our other other dog Lily (a welsh corgi mix). Every 3-4 days we go down to the wood shed to check for rats. Both dogs come with us and on the occasion that a rat does dart out Lily is on it in seconds. We never trained her to but she will kill rat and then back away from it. Poor Roxy (the chicken chaser) however, she will try to go for one but her lanky frame means she often overshoots the rat.

One question, when dogs get these 'obsessions' is it normal for it to be transfixed on that particular species? Just because we used to have quails that lived with the chickens but Roxy would only pay attention to the chooks. It's the same with any of our other birds, where lily likes to give any animal a sniff, Roxy is only ever interested in the chickens. Sometimes I wish we still had our rooster. It was a vicious brute, would kick and flap at you anytime you went in the pen but I think that may have been the fright Roxy would've needed when she was younger to break the habit.
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Ah...I was thinking of something else....these fences are uprtight an go around the area, not over it. At least, not that i could see from the road.
No, its a full upright net fence, 36 inches tall. Its just that sometimes the chickens can walk on the lowest wire if the fence is sagging.
 

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Hey menzieb. Your dog can definitely fixate on one type of thing and not transfer the behavior to other types of similar or, even, the same thing. What I mean is, your dog may only be obsessed with YOUR chickens. It is entirely possible that if you took him to a chicken farm, he may not even react. It's also possible it would send him into obsessed to the tenth power. LOL Dogs generalize and they don't. It's hard predict what will happen until it does, andthen you can begin to make assumptions and educated guesses about their behavior and how it transfers to other and new experiences.

Training a herding behavior for the dog to use under commands (read: only when you tell him to and not when he feels like it) will give your dog a job. Then again....it may stress out the chickens so bad that it affects their egg laying and quality or meat flavor (if you use them as meat). I don't know why I'm telling you that, with so many chickens and the experience you have, you probably already knew it. :) One of our dogs 'jobs' is sniffing. Every day I ask her to sniff certain spots in the yard, ending, at her favorite spot to sniff (the check damn with the buried sump pipe.) That way we end on a super high note and she is always willing to 'work' next time. Simple job and it makes her very happy. The only truly useful part of it is when she sniffs the sand box and alerts me to an ant infestation or cat poop. LOL Jobs can be anything from walking with a pack or putting away toys to actual jobs like herding or working as a therapy or service dog. In other words, jobs don't have to be complicated or even useful for the dog to feel useful. Like pkelly 's chasing chipmunks. It's a useless job (sorry p!) in practice but to the dog, it may as well be the most important job in the world.:)


Tess...tightrope chickens! LOL I guess they don't try to bite it or brush against it. Smart little clucks;)
 

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Yes, chasing chipmunks is the most important job in the world, then follows squirrels, then is telling her to guard the house and she will sit in a chair at the front window ALL DAY looking out and "guarding". In a way it makes me feel guilty to have her do that, but she is soooo proud of herself!!! The other houla just sleeps, sigh.:dog-sleep:
 
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