When you think of two animals getting along, a dog and chicken typically isn’t the first thing to come to mind.
In the wild, these two species on opposite sides of the food chain would not get along in any way, shape, or form.
However, chickens and dogs can get along well in a domestic setting. This, of course, doesn’t happen overnight, though! Introductions are important and can make or break the connection between the two animals.
So, if you want to know how to properly and safely introduce your dog and chickens to one another to potentially get them comfortable around each other, keep on reading!
Have A Good Relationship With Your Dog
Before making any introductions, ensure you have a good relationship with your dog.
This includes making sure that, first and foremost, your dog trusts and respects you enough to let you take control. A good way to foster this relationship is with some good old training!
This, of course, will take some time, but training your dog to respond to commands is crucial to keeping them under control in any situation.
Some of the most important commands you’re going to want them to know include:
Having a well-trained dog will make it easier to handle them in critical situations, such as meeting your chickens.
It also helps foster a positive family pact of confidence, trust, and security, which you will need.
Check out these 7 tips for success with a farm dog.
Prepare Your Dog For Introductions
Now that you have a good relationship with your dog and have taught them some commands to keep them in check, you can move on to step two, preparing them for the first introduction.
In particular, you’ll want to ensure that your dog has recently eaten and has gotten as much of his energy out as possible.
This will ensure that your dog: (1) doesn’t see your chickens as prey due to a rumbling stomach and (2) that he’s as worn out as he can be to keep him calm and passive during the introductions as you can.
You can tire your dog out in several ways, depending on what they like to do.
For instance, you can:
- Play a game with them, like fetch
- Complete some training before the meeting
- Let them run around in the backyard
- Take them for a trip to the dog park
Whatever’s considered activity will do! Just make sure they’re tired at the end of it.
In the wild, birds are seen as prey to dogs. Therefore, ensuring your dog has a filling meal before their introductions will also make it less likely for them to try to eat your chicken. How traumatizing would that be!
Now that your dog is prepped, fed, and calm, let’s get to the introductions!
Do Inside Introductions First (For Chicks Only!)
Introducing your dog to chicks will be much easier than introducing them to adult chickens.
Before you start, you should take precautions, such as making sure your chicks are acclimating well to their new abode and you.
- Put your dog onto a short leash to allow yourself to control him better.
- Lead him to the brooder with the chicks in it and tell him to sit and stay. Let him watch the chicks for a couple of minutes to acquaint himself with their sight and scent.
- Talk to your dog calmly and pet him a bit to comfort him. Observe his behavior to how he responds to the chicks.
- Let him watch you talk to, pet, and even hold the chicks. This will show him that you care for them as you do him. Continue observing his behavior.
- Repeat these steps every day until your dog behaves calmly and appropriately.
If your dog becomes restless or unable to sit still through any of this, immediately remove him from the room and try again tomorrow.
Furthermore, you should never hold your chicks directly in front of your dog for him to sniff or lick. This is the same way you would present a treat to him, and he may end up seeing your chick as one!
You’ve officially completed the chick introductions. Yay!
Outside Introductions (For Adult Chickens)
Step four, or three if you don’t own baby chicks, is the outdoor introduction!
This will be more complicated than the last step, primarily because up until now, the backyard has been considered your dog’s domain, and now there are chickens in it.
- With your dog on a short leash, put him into a sit and stay command 30 meters away from the chicken coop.
- Let him watch the chickens and reward him with treats and praise if he’s reacting calmly.
- After a while, move closer to the coop and once again make him sit and stay. Continue to praise him for good behavior.
- If he’s still calm, lengthen his leash and let him explore and sniff the outside of the coop. If he gets too close, pay close attention to him and pull him back once he starts overstepping his bounds. He may get pecked, which could lead to a fiasco!
Repeat these steps daily, and your dog will become more comfortable around your chicken coop.
Establish a Coop-Backyard Dynamic (For Free Ranging Chickens)
Introducing your dogs to free-ranging chickens will be a little different because there isn’t a coop to separate them from your dog!
You can follow the steps of the previous step.
However, instead of working his way closer to the coop, you’re going to make him work his way to the middle of the flock. Keep his attention on you with praise, treats, and toys to keep his attention away from the chickens.
Remove him from the area if he ever gets too aggressive and try another day again.
With time the chickens around him should become less interesting to him until they become just another everyday occurrence.
Simply put, yes, dogs and chickens can get along with each other.
It, of course, isn’t going to happen instantly, especially since dogs typically see birds as prey in the wild.
However, with proper introductions they can get used to being around each other and can even end up becoming friends!
Five breeds that are known to get along with chickens includes:
- Tibetan Mastiffs
- Anatolian Shepherds
A lot of the breeds in this list are livestock guardian dogs and are, therefore, used to being around livestock.
For more on this subject, check out our post on Choosing a Farm Dog.
Introducing your dog to your chickens can seem like a daunting task. However, it doesn’t have to be.
You only have to worry about keeping a positive, calm environment during the situation, and the two should become acclimated to one another in no time.
Just remember it won’t happen overnight!
Take time to foster a good relationship between the two; it could turn into something amazing!