Introducing The Family Dog To New Pet Chickens: Training Border ColliesxCattle, Labradors and Cavaliers

Photo of Kassandra Smith

Kassandra Smith

Senior Editor • Backyard Chicken Coops

Last Updated: 19 November 2014

Dogs and chickens. At first thought, they may not seem like great friends, but contrary to popular belief you can in fact keep both of these marvellous creatures and have a harmonious backyard. They not only get along fabulously, they can even protect each other from harm! “Yes, yes - but this won’t be the case with my dog” we hear you say. “My dog is different, and will definitely scare the chickens off!” Well, from Jack Russells to German Shepherds, we’ve seen the proof that any dog of all shapes and sizes can get along with a flock of feathered friends - 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. Let's meet some!

Grey-chicken and dog

Elleisha Mackenzie-France - Proud owner of a Border Collie x Cattle dog and 1 chicken called Stitch! (amongst other household pets)

This story is just about the most heartwarming one you could ever hear! Elleisha’s dog Gypsy and her chicken Stitch have bonded incredibly well, better than anybody could have imagined.  “Our dog Gypsy gets along with all our household pets, but this chicken (Stitch) was her best friend.” After happily living with animals such as cats and rats, the chicken proved to be no issue for the beautiful dog.

What’s even more beautiful is how attentive Gypsy the dog is to her feathered friend, considering that Stitch the chicken is actually blind. “She used to help her get around the yard and direct her to water and then to her bed at night.”

"[Gypsy] helps her get around the yard and direct her to water, and then to her bed at night"

1. An easy friendship

Gypsy had already received obedience training, therefore indicating what was right and wrong to her easy. “She understands that no means no, and after telling her no once, she was good enough that we never feared leaving her alone with them.”  What makes this more impressive is that Gypsy actually does have an instinct to chase birds, just not the chickens they’ve trained to be kind to. “She actually loves chasing birds at our local park, but has obedience training.”

 Top tips from Elleisha’s story:
  • Never underestimate the value of good obedience training.
  • Dogs can make great protectors of chickens, and are often used to keep a flock safe.
Two sussex chickens and a dog

Cass Williams - Proud owner of a Labrador, a Cavalier and 2 Isa Brown chickens!

Cass has an excitable backyard full of feathers and fur. Her two dogs had opposite reactions to the chickens arrival, therefore she had to take different approaches - both with successful outcomes.

1. The unphased Labrador

The Labrador and the Cavalier reacted differently to the introduction of the chickens. Her Labrador, humorously, didn’t seem to mind in the slightest that it had some new feathered friends - in her words, “it didn’t care.” Other testimonials from our customers seem to indicate that Labradors are a friendly dog breed that get along well with chickens (but remember every dog is different!)

2. The cunning Cavalier

The Cavalier’s reaction was initially not so peaceful, so Cass took a more gradual approach to their introduction. “My Cavalier took a little bit to get over being so excited by them...but he soon pulled his head in with a swift peck!”

Initially, she kept the Cavalier and the chooks separate, where they could see one another without having actual contact. “I didn’t let the chooks out straight away with the dogs. I put the Cavalier away whilst the chooks roamed, took about a month and he was used to them being around.”

"I didn't let the chooks out straight away with the dogs. I put the Cavalier away whilst the chooks roamed, took about a month and he was used to them being around."

3. A happy family

Cass not only now has both her dogs and chickens roaming happily around the backyard, they are also joined by 2 feline friends! “It’s really nice to see them all together outside, which also includes 2 cats - no worries.”

Top Tips from Cass’s story:

  • Not all breeds will have the same reaction.  You know your dogs better than anyone, so train them with methods you know they respond to well.
  • It’s not just dogs who can get along with chickens - cats can also be trained!

Dogs and chickens can certainly become best friends and look after each other, as you've seen in these examples. If you need more help, are interested in the different reactions of other dog breeds, you should 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 how different animals can get along famously.

Sources and further reading