Obedience training for dogs is a must especially for those that live in a farm. Your dog has to learn that the world does not revolve around him. He has to get along with the other animals. It may seem challenging at first, but if he has had any training, it should be easier for you.
The fact is you cannot afford for your dog to kill the chickens and other animals in your farm, and more so those of your neighbors to keep the peace and your sanity.
Dogs are hunters by instinct. And they are naturally curious about their surroundings as well as things that wander around. More so with chickens that many dogs view as a tasty meal. Each breed and every dog is different.
Plus there’s the personality of your dog to think about. This can be a concern for those with untrained, excitable, hyperactive, and stubborn dogs. Regardless of how overwhelming it looks, it can work out if you give it a try. Many have tried this method in getting dogs and chickens to get along with much success.
Here are tips on what to do to chicken-proof your dog:
- Days 1 -3
Get your dog used to seeing the birds. And keep him calm by talking to him. Say, “ Be gentle” in a soothing tone.
- Days 4-6
Walk him around the flock on a leash while chickens are roaming about. Let him feel he is part of it. Give him a firm reminder to focus on you. Take his interest away from the birds when he gets excited. Use a firm voice. You may ask him to perform a trick or two while there. The key is to direct his attention off the birds.
- Days 7-17
Try to get him off his leash. Let him wind down from his excitement of this new environment. Keep talking to him calmly. Redirect his attention to you. Closely supervise and observe him in the coming days until he is no longer a threat. If he gets excited, get him back on his leash and move him away again. He will then realize if he behaves he can be part of the action, but if he does not, he has to be moved away.
Here are additional tips:
- Start with the training slowly. You do not have to rush things. Your dog has to be accustomed to the sight, sounds and feel of having birds and other animals around him. Give him time.
- Stay calm and firm all throughout the training. As the pack leader, you have to project your authority through your voice, posture, and demeanor. Calm him down by looking and sounding relaxed. Dogs are highly intuitive and can read humans well. If they sense you are tense, they will exhibit anxious behavior. When you are calm, so will he be as well.
- If he shows any sign of aggression, he cannot be off the leash just yet. Keep practicing. Move on to the next step only after he has hurdled that stage and proven he is ready.
- If possible, get another dog that has been chicken-proofed into the picture. This may help him see how he is expected to behave.
- If he learns to ignore the birds, that is a positive outcome. Praise him profusely and give him a treat.
- Learn to read your dog through subtle signs in his body. Learn to read his body language. A wagging tail cannot be equated with friendliness. If it isn’t accompanied with a play bow in which he lowers his front body, it can signal aggression. Other signals include a tense jaw, a stiff, rigid posture, and hair rising on his neck and along with his spine.
- Always use positive reinforcement. Praise and pet him. Never harm nor shout at him.
- Some people hold a chicken close to their dog and talk to it in a soothing tone. This can give your dog the idea that the birds are a valued part of the family, so he should not harm them.
Chicken-proofing your dog begins with exposure. Once the novelty of seeing these winged, clucking creatures wears off, the excitement and interest should wane and he can direct his attention elsewhere. The exposure works both ways. The birds will get used to the dog’s presence and will learn to maintain their calm. This will afford them the chance to adapt as well.
This is no mean feat for your dog to carry out. It involves amazing discipline and will power. Such good behavior deserves a high value treat so give him the very best you can. It is also an awesome achievement for you to be able to teach your dog to behave in such a marvellous way under pressure.
Useful Tip to Assert Yourself As the Pack Leader:
Establish your position as pack leader early on by learning to walk your dog properly. Lead the way literally. You should walk ahead of your dog to lead him on a leash. Walking this way is the best exercise that establishes your leadership role. If you let him walk in front you, slacken the hold on his leash only for a moment.
Be consistent in the way you relate with your dog to make clear to him your position as pack leader. Earn his respect by being firm and self-confident.
Own every situation with your dog so he will learn to focus, listen, and carry out your orders. In all instances that you train him, lavish praise and let him know how proud you are as he learns tricks and desired behavior. While he may appreciate his rewards, time with you to bond and have fun is surely on top of his list. So be assertive, firm, but stay loving.