Follow up post - in regards to dogs killing poultry.
I'm of the belief that there is a learning curve that dogs must experience.
Poultry are one of the most challenging farm animals because their flapping,
squawking and erratic movements can so easily provoke a dogs prey drive.
I'm not of the opinion that once a dog has "tasted blood" they are hopeless.
I've raised quite a few dogs around poultry. Most of them time or another
(usually in their first year) have made a mistake and either hurt or killed
a bird. None of them developed a penchant for it and all are now
trustworthy around our birds. The mistakes were usually my fault; the
result of me giving the dog more freedom than they should have had at the
time. I count the loss as part of their education (and mine).
So, you train your dog. You bring them with you when you chore and let them
watch you interact with the birds. You model the behavior you want the dog
to exibit. You correct inappropriate behavior when you witness it and
praise gentleness and self control. You give him as many opportunities to
figure out the rules as you can and are fair with corrections. Then, at
some point, you have to just let the dog have a chance to prove himself.
Sometimes you misjudge and give the dog that freedom before he is ready.
When that happens what do you do?
There are some people who advocate punishing the dog when you find he has
killed a chicken. Punishment can be effective but only if the dog
associates the negative experience with the behavior. So you come outside
to find the dog lying with a dead bird between his legs gnawing on it and
plucking feathers. At this point, are you 100% sure that the dog killed
that bird? Could it have died another way and the dog just found it (just
like he found that meaty deer bone in the woods)? If the answer is yes then
fairness dictates that you must not punish the dog. Simply dispose of the
bird and quietly put the dog up with the self admonition to supervise him
more closely. If the dog did in fact kill the bird, your goal is to
communicate that the offense is not to be caught with a dead bird. The
offense is the *killing of the bird* For the dog to associate
correction/punishment with the act of killing it is necessary to punish the
dog as he is killing the bird or *immediately* after. Dogs live in the
moment so corrections must be immediate to be effective. Each second that
goes by distances the action from the punishment in the dogs mind. Its a
hard thing to have to bite your tongue so to speak especially when you are
pretty darn sure the dog is guilty. But it does no good to do otherwise.
Corrections like beating the dog with the dead bird or tying it around his
neck until it rots off are often suggested but these do not help the dog
associate the punishment to the act of killing. What they do is create an
aversion to dead chickens, especially in your presence. Some might argue,
"But my dog looked so guilty when I came out and caught him with the dead
bird". I would argue back that what you witnessed is the dogs superb
ability to read his human's body language (be it ever so subtle). He sensed
you were upset and used his own submissive body language to diffuse your
anger. He didn't know *why* you were angry. I imagine that some folks
using the above mentioned techniques might seem to have some success on the
surface but at what expense? I think aversion training like this is hit or
miss and it. The dog might generalize from avoiding dead chickens to
avoiding all chickens or he might not. It certainly does not coax out the
nurturing nature present in so many ES and farmcollies and foster it which
is something I seek to do. I want my dogs to see the chickens and other
stock as members of the pack that they are to watch over and protect.
Just my .02 - your mileage may vary ;-)
Good Shepherd Farm
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----- Original Message -----
From: "Rini" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, April 29, 2008 2:46 PM
Subject: Re: [FARMCOLLIE] Introducing ES to chicks
> Does anyone have any hints on how best to introduce a
> ES to chicks or chickens? We have a 1 1/2 year old
> ES, who was raised around chickens, but seems to have
> forgotten, and I started with baby chicks thinking
> that would be easier. She appears ready to swallow
> them whole.
> YIKES! You have a problem, indeed.
> You have to convince the dog that 1) you are alpha and they are under you
> in status, and 2) those are *your* chicks and not to be touched.
> Start using NILIF - nothing in life is free. You eat in front of the dog
> and only then do they get anything. And they have to do a trick or
> thing before they get anything. They have to earn their dinner, earn going
> through a door, and you go first through the door. Don't let them get away
> with anything. Take their food bowl up while they are still eating, and if
> you get a growl call in the Marines and let the dog know they are half a
> second away from a horrible death. You must be the Boss! Then let them
> finish their dinner when *you* feel like it.
> With the chicks, put the dog on a leash (preferably someone else holding
> it). Hold a chick, pet it, croon to it "Good chickie, good chickie" and
> the dog sniff it. If the dogs gives a snap, a predator stare or a lunge,
> correct him. Hard if need be. The dog has to think if he even looks
> cross-eyed at the chick he will immediately die horribly.
> He's tasted blood and has gotten away with this, so it's going to be
> It may be you can't fix this, and the dog either stays inside with you or
> outside on a leash with you or in a pen. Or find a new home for him
> small animals). She must stay restrained until she proves she won't hurt
> chicks or even stare at them.
> Let us know how things go, and good luck.
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