Dogs and chickens. At first thought, they may not seem like good roomies, but contrary to popular belief you can definitely house these animals in the same backyard. They not only make great friends, they can even protect each other from harm! “Yes, yes - but this won’t be the case with my dog” we hear the masses say. “My dog is different, and will definitely eat the chickens!” Well, from big dogs to small, all dogs of every breed can get along with chickens - take it from some of our thousands of followers, readers, subscribers and customers who have kindly sent us in their stories and photos, and shared with us their tips and advice when it comes to keeping dogs and chickens together in the same household.
Jemma Marsh - Proud Owner of 1 Doberman and 6 Chickens!
The idea of an energetic doberman living in peaceful harmony with chickens may seem unrealistic, but Jemma has successfully trained her animals to live unsupervised together in the same backyard - so it can be done!
1. An over excited puppy
As can be expected from this chicken breed, Jemma found the Doberman’s personality when first introduced to the chickens to be a bit overzealous. “He tried to eat them when he was a puppy, as he was too excited. When he chased them, they’d flap [their wings] which excited him more.”
“He tried to eat them when he was a puppy, as he was too excited. When he chased them, they’d flap [their wings] which excited him more.”
2. Slow and steady training
Jemma took a slow and steady approach of multiple different stages to get Louie accustomed to the chickens, and to calm his excitement. “We spent time with him on a lead around them first. Then we tethered him to the washing line so [the chickens] knew where they could go out of his reach.”
After letting him interact with the chickens whilst restrained, Jemma decided it was time to let him off the leash around her flock - but the Doberman was still under control with the use of a vibrating colour. “When he got too excited, we could buzz him and recall him. Lots of supervision and quick to praise or react.” This was when he was 18 months old, so Jemma really had taken her time with her dog and waited until he was ready.
“When he got too excited, we could buzz him and recall him. Lots of supervision, and quick to praise or react.”
3. A run enclosure keeps both animals happy
Now, the Doberman is happy to socialise with the chickens while they are safe in their run enclosure. If “the group of 6” are out in the backyard free ranging, “he is much happier and generally leaves them alone”. However, if there’s just one chicken that comes out of the coop run, “he isn’t happy and will try and get it to go back in the coop.” The run enclosure that Jemma has for her coop keeps both animals happy.
4. Lessons learned
This is the second dog that Jemma has had around chickens, and she learned a significant lesson from her Mini Shnauzer’s behaviour towards the flock years ago. “While we were at work she got under the wire and dragged a chicken out by its wing. We couldn’t work out why she hurt it, as she was fine with them when we were in the yard with her.” Surprisingly, Jemma found that, after this incident, when they “let the chickens out full time with her, we never had another issue. Turns out she just wanted to be with them and accidentally hurt one. I think sometimes their pouncing and behaviours that look like they want to kill the birds are actually misread and SOME dogs just want to be with their feathered friends.”
“I think sometimes their pouncing and behaviours that look like they want to kill the birds are actually misread, and SOME dogs just want to be with their feathered friends.”
Top tips from Jemma’s story:
- Take your time when training - remember that a puppy is probably more excitable than a grown dog, so take that into account.
- Behaviour that may look aggressive, might actually mean something else. Pay close attention to your dogs and your flock.
- Keeping your chickens in a run might be a good idea if your dog is more suited to part-time interaction with your flock.
With time and persistence, any breed can be trained to love their backyard flock!
Dogs and chickens can definitely get along in the same backyard, and we've got many testimonials! If you need more help or are curious about the topic, check out our other articles on dogs and chickens on our Learning Centre. If you’re currently training your animals to co-exist with your chickens, please email through photos and share your stories - we love telling our followers about friendships between all animals - furry, feathered and fuzzy!