Blogger Elle Pugsley from southern England shares with us how to introduce chickens and dogs.
Chickens rescued from industrial farms probably haven’t met many animals of a different species. If you have other animals, you will want to introduce them all slowly and safely.
Three Dogs, Three New Chickens
I have three large dogs who love to watch the chickens. If the birds are free-ranging, the dogs are watching from behind our back door. When the chickens are in their enclosure, and the dogs have the run of the garden, they are still fascinated with gazing at the girls from outside the coop. The dogs were quite interested in the chickens after I rescued the three new girls. But once they had seen and sniffed the new birds and accepted them as new family members, the dogs returned to their normal mild interest.
Before getting any chickens, I wanted to gage how my dogs would react. Fortunately, the neighbour from whom I bought my original four bantams invited me to bring the dogs to her garden and get them used to birds before I took any home with me.
Free Range Chickens and Your Dogs
If you want to free range chickens safely with your dogs, it will take training. The bantams were here before my third dog came along, so he took to them wonderfully as a puppy but I still wouldn’t leave him alone with them unsupervised. Even if you don’t plan for your birds and dogs to share space simultaneously, it’s best to train the dogs to leave the chickens alone in case accidents happen: such as you to latch the back door properly. Once this happened and all three dogs barrelled out, saw the chickens, realised they weren’t meant to be out with them and turned around coming straight back inside.
When it came to getting the dogs used to the birds I used a large cage on the lawn to introduce the dogs to the idea of sharing the space with the hens inside the cage. All three of my dogs know the command ‘leave’ and respond to it for food, objects like toys, and our pet rats when the rats have a run around on the sofa. I told them to leave the caged birds alone and carried on for several days like this until they had little to no interest. I followed this with walking the dogs on lead in the garden with the hens free ranging, first each dog separately, then in pairs, then all three together, telling them to leave the chickens if they pestered them. They are allowed to give them a sniff but nothing more.Over time I repeated this without leads on. Keep in mind, none of my dogs are livestock breeds meant to be chicken protectors and are never left alone with the chickens, I went through this training in order for the chickens to be safe if ever the dogs were let out with them as I don’t have a huge garden and they have to share the space.
Elle Pugsley started growing her own food last year, and it went so well that the next natural step was to acquire chickens. Starting off with four bantams she fell in love and quickly became a crazy chicken lady. Now she’s opened her coop to three ex-commercial free range hens to rehabilitate and provide them with a forever home. You can see pictures of her hens and gardens on Instagram.