Backyard Chickens and Dogs

Backyard Chickens and Dogs

Many of you know that I have backyard chickens and dogs. People all over the country are jumping on the backyard chicken bandwagon. It’s crazy! I didn’t begin this journey with the intention of getting chickens. I didn’t. They were a cruel prank.

Chicken meme
Someone was playing a prank on Boromir, suggesting she have some fried chicken. Actually, Boromir really likes fried chicken. Backyard chickens are cannibals.

A friend brought over a baby chick while we were out. I fell in love. The rest, as they say, is history. But how did we handle the backyard chickens and dogs?

Barred Rock
Aragorn asked the same question. Frequently. She didn’t like the idea of being a dog treat.

I was a little terrified, to be honest. Flash and Patches love to hunt and kill rodents. They zero in on anything that moves. The chickens fascinated them. I could see the blood lust in their eyes.

Australian Shepherd
The dogs spent much of the first weeks with the backyard chickens doing a lot of this. Staring and drooling, waiting for me to leave the cage open.

But when it came down to the safety of the backyard chickens, I was pleased that my dogs were so easy to train. We kept a fence between them and were outside with all of them for long stretches, reprimanding the dogs any time they got close or looked to be stalking the chickens. Eventually we let them out together, me with the backyard chickens cradled in my arms or next to me on the ground. I’m pretty sure Hunny stood ready with the hose, squirting and saying no. It was a success.

The duck whisperer
And then we got a duck, who put the dogs in their place almost immediately.

I can now leave the dogs out with the girls for hours, no harm at all. But then we got Chewy.

Hungry Affenpinscher
This is Chewy’s hungry face. He’s asking for Chicken. I just said no.

I thought I knew everything. I thought training the dog to stay away from my backyard chickens would be a snap, especially such a brilliant dog as little Chewy. But I made all the classic mistakes. So I’m here to warn you – don’t think you know everything until you do.

The chicken who saved a boy
My boy thought he knew everything about chickens. Mary Ann set him straight.

First mistake – thinking Chewy was playing with Jimmy the Duck. He probably was, but it escalated. Jimmy being such an ornery duck, biting Chewy every chance he got, probably didn’t help any.

Mistake two, thinking Chewy wouldn’t bother the backyard chickens, since they didn’t bite back the way Jimmy did. Heh. Nope. Chewy thought they were so much fun to chase!

Mistake three, thinking Chewy was just playing this whole time, that he wouldn’t hurt the chickens. *sigh* I’m a special kind of stupid, you know?

Brown Leghorn chicken
Pippin was defrocked by Chewy. She escapes the coop occasionally, and Chewy chases her. One time he caught her and pulled out all the feathers on her thigh. No blood, no bite marks, but next time he might decide to chew. Pippin was ill for quite a while, recovering from the attack.

So the moral of this story about backyard chickens and dogs is this –

Keep the chickens and dogs separate from the start.

Begin training from day one.

Take your time training and trusting.

And DOGS ARE DOGS. If it looks like they’re playing, too bad. Don’t trust them.

Oh, one other thing? If you’re thinking of getting your own backyard chickens, or already have them, they really do like meat. My girls love Jones Chicken Taffy. It’s one of their favorite treats. Seriously.

Until I write again …


6 thoughts on “Backyard Chickens and Dogs

  1. What a mean friend to just plop a chicken on you like that! He should be punished. Perhaps a horse-head mask-wearing stalker sends him random pictures. Kinda like a Where’s Waldo…only with a guy wearing a horse head. Yeah. And he (or SHE) hangs chairs on walls and send pictures of that, too. That might just make that friend re-think the pink flamingo prank… Maybe…
    insideheathershead recently posted..Shame on youMy Profile

  2. I also have chickens, and three dogs with incredibly high prey drive. We manage it with fencing and leashes. So far, so good. Though the chickens free range and love to taunt the dogs through the fence.
    Rebekah recently posted..It is Too HotMy Profile

  3. I can see how easy it would be to fall into that same trap. After having my good girl Sephi for so many years before getting Maya, I thought Maya’s training would be a snap. I’d forgotten what having a puppy was like. Mistakes were made. I wasn’t as careful and proactive with her training. We’ve worked through all that and now Maya is as well-behaved as Sephi was. I’m sure that even though Chewy got off to the wrong start you’ll get it worked out. I’m glad Pippin is okay, too.
    Dawn recently posted..Happy Birthday to Dog Travel Gear Expert MayaMy Profile

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