Chickens & Border Collies – Top tips on how to make them the of best friends
You may not believe me when I say that chickens and border collies can be the best of friends. I am planning to give you some hints and tips to make this a reality. By the end of this article, I believe that you will not only agree but you will be eager to try this out. I know when I first started I was not confident but now I have a flock of chickens who just love hanging out with my border collie.
Learn to understand your dogs Prey Drive
All dogs have a certain amount of prey drive, this isn’t a bad thing, it is just hard wired into a dogs genetics. Some dogs have a high prey drive as over the years they have been bred to hunt, like a greyhound, these will chase after anything that is moving fast or smaller than them. On the other end of the scale, a border collie has a very low prey drive, they have been bred to herd so they are more likely to herd your chickens then try to harm them.
Make sure you put in the time to train your dog
This is probably the most important step in the process, collies are notoriously intelligent dogs and they are very good at learning new commands and following orders. If you have a well trained Collie already then you have no need to worry but if not or you have puppy then there are several things you will need to address while training your collie:
- The ‘leave it’ command. Start by placing a treat in your open hand, when your collie goes for the treat you close your hand and say ‘leave it’. Whenever your dog completes this reward with them with a treat from your other hand. Follow this up by repeating but with the treat on the ground and then covering it with your foot. After some time you should be able to leave the treat on the ground but when you say ‘leave it’ your collie will just stop with no need to hide the treat.
- Once your collie has learnt this command its time to let them near your chickens. You should keep your chickens inside their chicken run so your dog can not come into direct contact with them, this will allow the chickens and dog to get to know each other but it still keeps that boundary there so there is nothing to worry about.
- Once your dog has mastered this then you can try it with them on a lead but use your chickens instead of the treat. As soon as your dog becomes interested or makes eye contact with the chicken command ‘leave it’ and they should stop looking at it and become calm again. Keep this up while moving closer to the chickens so your dog is slowly getting used to being near the chickens but is also under control if needed.
- Make sure your dog always responds to you when you call them to return if in the worst case your dog gets a bit too friendly you want to be sure that they will come back when called.
- Once you have purchased your chicken coop you should have it set up for a week or so in your garden so your dog can used to the new structure in his territory.
Reasons why your chickens and dogs will get along
So they are some basic training tips to ensure it’s safe to introduce your two unlikely friends, now let’s take a look at some of the reasons that your dog and chickens will actually become good friends.
- Both dogs and chickens are social animals, they prefer to live in groups. Whether this is with others of their species or your family, they all love to be social in groups. As well as becoming part of the flock your border collie may actually help you at the end of the day and help to round up their new ‘family’.
- Both animals are very playful, where chickens may be a little cautious to start with they are also very curious. This will lead to the chickens trying to figure out why their new family member has a big furry coat and ultimately giving the dog a little peck after inspection, so your dog needs to be on the look out!
- Both chickens and dogs are rather intelligent animals, they both learn to respond to their names, they are able to ace agility tests, learn to perform tricks for treats and communicate between themselves.
- Having a dog hanging around your chickens may actually ward off predators as they will know there is a chance they will have to confront the dog as well.
- Dogs just love pleasing their owners, once they understand that your end goal is for everyone to get along they will endeavour to do this.
So the fact that chickens are prey animals could start with being an issue. However, I hope after reading this you have decided that it’s not a bad idea and actually if you want man’s best friend but also want some fresh eggs then this combination of dogs and chickens is actually a great idea.