Keeping Chickens Around Your Pet Dog: Training the Labrador and Pomeranian To Live With Isa Browns

Photo of Kassandra Smith

Kassandra Smith

Senior Editor • Backyard Chicken Coops

10 November 2014

Dogs and chickens - many approach this combination of backyard animals with trepidation, but it needn’t be so. You can have both dogs and chickens roaming in the backyard without the threat of attack - they can even become the best of friends! “Yes, yes - but this won’t be the case with my dog” we hear you say. “My dog is different, and will definitely eat the chickens!” Well, we’ve seen the proof that any dog of all breeds and sizes can get along with a backyard flock of 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. It’s doable, we’ve done it ourselves!

Holly Brooks

Proud owner of 4 Isa Browns, a Black Labrador x Border Collie and a Pomeranian x Maltese

Holly-Brooks-dogs-with-chickens

Holly was one of the many animal lovers who was hesitant to become a chicken keeper, because she already had pet dogs, and wasn’t sure if the two animals could live together peacefully. Her dogs had displayed certain behaviours - not aggressive in nature, but would not be conducive to having small, fragile pet chickens around. “Our Lab x Border Collie (Bella) is still only a pup...she chews and destroys everything in sight, from her own kennel to the kids bikes, toys and screen doors and trees. So, we thought that she would eat the chickens for sure! Our smaller dog (Cleo, a Pomeranian x Maltese) does chase birds and bark at people so she was a worry to me. But again is so gentle with the kids, and was great when we introduced our Lab.”

“We were very hesitant about getting chooks. Our Lab...chews and destroys everything in sight, so we thought she would eat the chickens for sure...our smaller dog does chase birds and barks at people so she was a worry to me.”

1. Introducing the coop to the dogs

Holly started letting the dogs investigate the new additions to the backyard before her chickens arrived, starting with letting the dogs investigate the new Taj Mahal chicken coop she’d set up. This meant that the dogs had plenty of time to adjust to the environmental changes, as well as the new animals - so they weren’t overwhelmed by all the new changes. “We built our Taj mahal coop, and left it open and empty for 3 weeks so the dogs had access to sniff around and explore. We already had hay in, and put the chook food in. We thought that would help so they didn’t get inquisitive later and want to break in.”

2. The Chickens Arrive!

After the dogs had ample time to investigate the new coop, Holly decided it was time to bring the flock to their new home - 4 Isa Brown chickens.

On moving day, Holly and her husband distracted the dogs so they wouldn’t become too overwhelmed with excitement, and stress the chickens out more than they already were from moving into a new environment. “We gave the dogs a big bone each on the day they arrived, so the arrival wasn’t as ‘exciting’ to them”. Following this, she let the chickens settle into their new coop for two weeks so they could become comfortable and adjust.

Holly’s original plan was to introduce the dogs and chickens face to face when her husband was home, so that if their behaviour became too rough and aggressive, separating the animals would be simple - however, an unexpected spanner was thrown in the works! “Without me knowing my 3 year old opened the door one day! The dogs initially sniffed them, nudged them, and chased them a bit, but as soon as I thought they were getting too close or too excited I told them off, and I stood between them and the chooks. Or I distracted them by throwing a ball or giving them a bone.”

3. A Harmonious Household

The dogs and chickens are now both able to roam around happily in the backyard together whenever Holly chooses to let the chickens out - they don’t seem to give each other a second thought! In fact, the chickens have become quite cheeky and like to play games with their furry friends. “The chooks are so confident now that they sneak up behind the dogs while they are sleeping, and peck their tails! Also, if the dogs get in their face, they give them a big peck on the nose!”

“The chooks are so confident now that they sneak up behind the dogs while they are sleeping, and peck their tails!”

Black-labrador-with-chickens-train-your-dog-with-these-easy-steps

 Top tips from Holly’s story:
  • Don’t let your hesitancy stop you from getting chickens!
  • Don’t forget that the coop is also a new change for the dogs’ environment - let them sniff, investigate and become acquainted with the chickens home as well.
  • Let them know when the dog is behaving incorrectly towards the chickens - like you would when they’re performing other bad behaviours.

Dogs and chickens can certainly co-exist peacefully and become backyard buddies - if you need more help or want to know more about dogs and chickens, our Learning Centre is filled with information and success stories. If you’re currently training your dog to get along with your backyard flock, please email through photos and share your stories - we love telling our followers about friendships between all animals - furry, feathered and fuzzy!

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