Tag / integrating puppy with backyard chickens

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Introducing A Puppy to the Flock~Part 2

Sara Jane

As with raising a child, caring for a new puppy is a similar adventure.  Like children, they have no rules, they only work on impulse.  They must start from square one.  They learn where to go potty, how to express  when they are hungry, tired and when their teeth hurt.  They also begin to learn your rules and what is expected of them.  Integrating a new dog into an existing flock takes time and cannot be rushed, taking baby steps to accomplish this goal.

Sara is a Miniature Schnauzer. Her coloring is Liver Parti.

Start Immediately~ From the first moment your new puppy arrives in your house the basic training should begin.  Every effort should be made through all the members of the household to be on the same page.  Priorities should be placed on knowing where the food is, when to have downtime and rest, and potty training.  Crate training is very helpful and allows the dog to have a “safe place” that is all their own away from others.

Use the Same Terminology~I cannot stress that every family member should use the same words when training.  This not only keeps things consistent but helps the dog to learn much quicker. A few examples:
DOWN- when the dog is jumping up on people
KISSES- when the puppy is nipping and you would prefer licks.
LEAVE IT- when the puppy is getting into something that is off-limits or is overly excited about a new found smell or item that you do not want it to bother with.
GO POTTY- We differentiate potty and walking.  We want her to know when it is time for business vs. fun. Outside, we say, “Go potty.”  If we know she has to pee, we tell her, “Go Pee.”  and vice versa.
HEEL- used when walking

Set Boundaries~ Be sure to limit the area where the puppy has access. They should not have free-reign of the place until you are sure they are potty trained completely.

Self Control/Instinct Control/ Impulse Control~ By practicing commands and getting your puppy to pay attention and learn what you are asking helps to accomplish all of these.  It is so important that your puppy learns this because you want to be sure that they will not be as inclined to act upon instinct.  This is very important for your flock safety.

Respect~ The dog must come to learn that you are the boss.

Pack Position~ As your puppy enters your life and family, it will view your family as its pack.  It is critical that the puppy quickly learn and understand that their place is in the bottom of the pack.

Knows Commands~Prior to fully introducing your puppy to the flock, it is very helpful if they know the rules and commands.

Follows Commands Consistently~Just because they know the commands does not mean they will follow them.  This is very important if you are ever thinking of leaving your dog alone with the flock.

The chickens are part of the pack~ Teach your puppy that they chickens are part of the pack family.  They should learn this difference that the chickens are not food, toys or prey.

Teaching about Predators~ When the opportunities arise, teach your dog about who is allowed near the chickens and who is off limits.

Consider a Behaviorist~ Always consider getting a behaviorist involved.  Often it is the family that needs to be trained, not the dog.

Sara is now almost 5 months old.  She has come so far and learned so much.  Currently, we are working on impulse control and learning that the flock is part of the pack. She has yet to be anywhere near the chickens without a strong hold on the leash and us being on the same level with her.  She spends most time, watching the chickens as they are safely in the run.  As she gets older and wiser, we will begin by keeping her tethered near the chickens on the lead.  I am confident that she will one day, guard the girls and keep watch as they free-range in the gardens.

Stay Tuned for Part 3 of this on-going series.  Click here if you missed Part 1.

Sniffing the breeze.

DISCLAIMER: Introducing a new dog at any age to the flock can be risky and dangerous.  The dog and the chickens can be harmed if you are not careful.  This post is for informational use.  If you choose to use any of these techniques, please use them at your own risk.  We will not be held accountable.  When possible, it is always best to rely on a professional dog behaviorist/trainer for help.