by Rebecca Nickols
Photos by author
A few common concerns of first time chicken owners (who have a dog as a pet) are:
“How will the dog react to the chickens?”
“Should I keep the chickens and dog(s) separated?”
“What breed of dogs is best to keep around chickens?”
I had the same questions with my first flock of day old chicks. I was convinced that my border collies would never accept the chickens and would constantly torment and possible harm my defenseless birds. In the past the dogs couldn’t stand it if the cats crossed an imaginary line in the yard. They would herd them to a small section in the back of the house where they thought they belonged. I assumed that if a cat couldn’t defend itself against a determined border collie, then a helpless chicken didn’t have a chance. Well, I was wrong… I had one mean Buff Orpington who had no fear–of dogs, cats or humans. She would literally charge the dogs and give them a fierce peck in the face. From that time on, the dogs developed a healthy fear of chickens. In fact they’ve even let-up on the cats too!
I think that there are some breeds that are know for a calmer disposition and, of course, there are some breeds that have a reputation for aggression. Should you allow your pit bull around your hens? Probably not… That said, no matter what the breed, the temperament of the dog is probably more important.
Most folks know the personality of their dog and have a pretty good idea of what its first reaction to the birds will be, but always play it safe. The first introduction should be the dog viewing the chickens–while they are safe in a predator proof run. If the dog goes crazy barking and growling, then you can imagine what the outcome would be if the chickens were not safely secured. Gradually over time, the dog might accept (or even protect) the flock, but never leave them alone together until you are confident of your dog’s behavior and attitude toward the chickens.
We talk a lot about treats we give our chickens, but here’s a chicken treat your dog will love!
This dog treat recipe calls for a couple of eggs from your hens and some left over pumpkin from the fall harvest.
Chicken Dog Treats!
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 fresh eggs ♥
2/3 cup pureed pumpkin, either canned or fresh
3 tablespoons peanut butter
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine all ingredients in a stand mixer bowl and mix on medium speed until the dough comes together. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to 1/4″ inch thick. Add a little water if the dough is very stiff, or a little flour if it is too soft and sticky. Use a cookie cutter to cut out desired shapes. Place on prepared baking sheet and bake for about 15-20 minutes until the treats are dry to the touch.