The question is, can dogs coexist with chickens? The right answer to this question is yes. Dogs can comfortably live side by side with your chickens. Both types of animals are friendly and will interact all day long once they get used to each other.
The reason why I like chickens the most is that they can coexist with other animals on the farm. This is because they are naturally curious and easy to get along with. Whether you are keeping cattle or sheep, your feathered friends will extend their friendship to your other animals. The same applies to when you keep dogs alongside your chickens.
Chickens and Dogs can Live Together in Harmony
You might be contemplating adding a few feathered friends to your domestic animals but you have no idea how your dog will react. That should not worry you given that dogs and chickens can live together in peace.
While it is easy for your chickens and furry friends to share a common living space, the stories about cohesion and harmony are something else. As a matter of fact, there are a few difficulties you need to consider before taking the big leap.
In nature, the law of the jungle places the dog way above the chickens when it comes to the food chain. This is the real source of conflicts among different farm animals.
But the good news is that there are many ways of reducing any aggression that may exist between dogs and chickens. And this is where your patience and determination come to play before bringing these two animals together. Anything that happens next is meant to make the relationship between your dogs and chicken to get stronger.
History of Chickens Living with Dogs
Both animals have a long and interesting history of their survival in the wild. Initially, dogs were ferocious predators, and this remains evident in wolves, their close relatives. Dogs relied heavily on hunting in packs in a bid to fight for food. This behavior exists among the wild dogs today as a reminder of how domesticated dogs lived thousands of years ago.
Small birds such as birds are below dogs and other carnivores on the food chain. This makes chickens be in the same category as the rest of the birds in the wild. As such, many farmers find it somehow difficult to let their feathered friends and dogs live together.
Even though domesticated dogs have changed over a long period of being close to humans, they still possess the innate prey drive. For that reason, most farmers don’t trust them with their chickens.
Birds and small animals are inherently prey for domesticated dogs. Few dog breeds used for sporting and hunting pose a threat to smaller animals. These dog breeds possess the basic carnivorous instinct to hunt. So they can easily pounce on small domestic animals such as chickens and devour them.
That should discourage you from keeping them alongside your feathered friends. This is because many dog breeds are more passive, less aggressive, and compatible with small animals such as chickens.
The Science Behind Chickens Coexisting with Dogs
Dogs can coexist with chickens in harmony and for a very long time. But the activation of your canine friend’s prey drive is somehow complicated. Many factors contribute to this behavior in one way or the other, as explained below:
Quite a number of dog breeds are more into chasing prey than the rest. Examples include Spaniels or Pointers.
When dogs get the freedom to act swiftly in a prey-containing setup, they achieve a natural instinct to do what their ancestors did to survive. They resort to hunting, and this may affect their relationship with other animals on the farm.
Success in hunting down prey is a rewarding experience and a way of instilling tasting memories among different dog breeds. This explains why some dogs have the urge to hunt from time to time. Such dogs will not be the right choice of a companion to your chickens.
Your dog may act or do some things based on their natural instinct due to the presence or absence of their pack members. In other words, each dog is more likely to act differently depending on social facilitation.
This is an aspect of internal processing that compels an animal, including human beings, to take specific actions. The same motivation can make a dog launch an attack on small animals on the farm. Such incidents occur rarely and should not discourage you from letting your feathered and furry friends share the same space.
In the case of your domesticated pup, things could turn out differently. When domesticated, most animals tend to be less equipped with instincts to hunt because their needs are met on time. Regardless of how you take care of your dogs, their prey drive is preserved to be unleashed when necessary.
When you notice this predatory behavior among your dogs, it is advisable to take drastic measures to save your chickens. One of those measures is to train them on how to live alongside your chickens.
Training Your Dog to Coexist with Your Chickens
The ultimate solution to encouraging your dogs and chickens to live in harmony is my training them. The training, however, entails the proper introduction of the two animals to each other. When you do it properly, your furry friends may find it easier to interact safely with your feathered friends. And this is precisely what you should strive to achieve.
Your training should start with some amount of exposure between the dogs and chickens while proceeding to their direct contact. In particular, pay attention to the dog’s body language during the entire training to know if they are responding well.
Below are simple steps to follow when introducing your dog to your chickens:
1. Begin your training and introduction slowly to make both animals get used to the routine. Doing so will help you to eliminate typical mistakes and accidents that may occur when you bring them together. Start by allowing your dogs to sniff around for a while to get used to other animals.
2. Choose a neutral ground for your training. Chickens and dogs are territorial animals. So, it is important to create a neutral ground for their training. A new training ground will make each animal less entitled to their surrounding, and this will make the training a success. Start your training by walking your dogs around the chicken yard, run, coop, or enclosure while keeping a little distance. Observe their behavior keenly to see how they react when they spot your chickens. Their reaction will tell you more about their future interaction with your birds.
3. Keep your chickens caged, and your dogs leashed throughout the training. Make sure that your birds remain locked up in their cage whenever your dogs are present. At the same time, keep your canine friends leashed as you take them around where your birds live. Apply these safety measures all the time when introducing the two animals to each other. Repeat the same procedure until you are sure that your pets are comfortable seeing each other.
4. Reward your animals on their excellent behavior. Both dogs and chickens love tasty treats. Rewarding them for their impressive behavior will promote a friendly relationship between them. Ensure that you have enough treats for your dogs and chickens separately before starting each training session. With time they will get used to treats and automatically create a strong bond despite their physical and behavioral differences.
5. Never leave them together without supervision. Remember that the two animals are different in many ways. If you leave them unsupervised in one place, they can turn against each other. For instance, your dogs may pounce on your chickens and kill them. Likewise, your birds may defend themselves by inflicting injuries to your furry friends. This is usually the case during the early days of their training sessions. But as time goes by, they will get used to each other and develop an everlasting friendship. When this happens, you can start taking your dogs off-leash as you observe their predatory behavior. Eventually, they will become relaxed and passive with your flock of chickens.
How will I know if my dog is not getting along with my chicken? There are many ways to tell whether your dog is getting along with your chicken or not. The most common one is body language. Here you should watch out for signs such as growling, barking, staring, body freezing, tense paw, stalking, ears up, exposed teeth, and a stiff tail. All these are predatory behavior in a dog that is not comfortable with your chicken.
When do I start training my dogs and chickens to coexist in harmony? Even though dogs and chickens might not seem like compatible domestic animals, early training can change this notion. Give them proper training and attention when they are young to help them coexist as they grow older.
Dogs and chickens can live in harmony without any problem. What you need to do to achieve this goal is to start training them as early as possible. The training should aim at making them get used to each other throughout.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Chicken Board!!