A lot of people keep dogs and chickens in the same home, but it can be a touchy situation introducing a dog to chickens.
For a lot of dog breeds, it’s their natural instinct to attack and kill chickens. Even a domesticated pup can become overwhelmed with these feelings, so you should always introduce them with caution.
Here are some tips to help you introduce a new dog to chickens, or vice versa. As well as some things to be aware of when you are trying to have dogs and chickens coexist.
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How to Safely Introduce a Dog to Pet Chickens
Before you introduce your pooch to your chooks for the first time, there are a few things you should do:
The first is to make sure you give doggy a good walk so they don’t have too much pent up energy. Their first instinct will be to chase and play with a small animal that moves pretty quickly.
Next, make sure they are not hungry. It’s not a nice thought, but a hungry dog is much more likely to see chickens as food.
Have them on a short leash and have some treats in your pocket to reward good behavior. Everyone has their own way of training their dog, but keeping them under control on a short leash is a must.
Now you can show your dog the coop and walk them around it a few times. Your chickens should be secure inside.
This allows the dog to take in the sounds and smells of the chickens while you’re telling them to stay calm if their anxiety is rising. It’s a lot to take in for a dog’s senses the first time, so doing this without the chance of contact is crucial.
If you have your own way of training your dog, follow what works for you. Most owners pull back the leash and reprimand any signs of aggression towards the chickens. While rewarding well behaved dogs with treats and fussing.
Depending on how your dog is behaving towards the chickens while they’re locked inside their coop will determine how many times you do this.
If it’s clear you can’t trust them, you can’t let your chickens out with your dog loose. If you’re confident they are fine with them, you can slowly introduce them outside of their coop while doggy is on a leash.
Can You Keep Dogs and Chickens Together?
A lot of people do keep dogs and chickens together, and they can form a cute friendship.
It’s not always going to be possible, however. At least, not without a good deal of work. This might even mean enlisting the help of a professional dog trainer if your dog is being aggressive towards your chooks.
This is because some dog breeds have been specifically bred to hunt birds, such as Golden and Labrador Retrievers, English Pointers, and some Spaniels.
It’s going to be very hard to change their instinctual behavior, and it will be hard to ever trust them alone with chickens.
You will know your own dog’s temperament better than anyone. It’s going to be something you have to manage and judge the risk for yourself.
If you follow the steps I outlined above when introducing your dog to your chickens, you will have a good idea of what risk is there.
You should never let your dog into their coop though, even when they’re out roaming around together. This is your chicken’s safe place, they need to feel secure laying eggs in there, sleeping, and such like.
Plus, as I will explain in more detail below, the coop is where dogs are most likely to pick up parasites and get sick from chickens if it’s going to happen.
Can Dogs Get Salmonella From Chickens?
Cases of salmonella infection in dogs is not that common, most healthy dogs are able to fight off salmonella without being too sick.
The bacteria is most commonly found in undercooked or raw meat, feces, and saliva of another infected animal, or on pet food that’s gone bad.
We all know how keen dogs are to eat food before checking the best by date, so it’s no wonder it’s not more common. It’s usually pups and elderly dogs that are susceptible to it as they have weaker immune systems.
The greatest risk of them picking up salmonella bacteria is from coming into contact with droppings and leftover food in a coop. This, along with the fact that dogs shouldn’t be eating chicken feed is why you should not let them have free roam inside your chicks’ coop.
It’s best practice to keep all your animal’s water and food bowls separate from one another to reduce the chance of germs spreading.
Most bacteria is spread through feces. As long as you clean up after your dog and don’t let them into your chicken’s enclosure, and the chance of spreading disease is minimal.
How Can I Tell If My Dog Has Salmonella?
If you’re concerned your dog has contracted salmonella, or you think your chickens have made your dog sick in some way you need to consult a vet asap. It’s not something you should stall on.
According to Dogtime.com, some of the typical symptoms of salmonella poisoning in dogs are:
- Loss of appetite
- Gurgling sounds in their stomach and abdominal pain
In most instances, as long as they can keep hydrated for a few days you’ll see signs of recovery. A vet will often administer fluids with electrolytes to ensure they get the hydration they need.
It’s a very unpleasant illness for the duration it lasts, however. So, it’s more than worth taking all the precautionary steps I covered above to minimize the risk.
Dogs and chickens can live in harmony and spend the day chasing each other around and having fun.
It’s a process you might have to work on depending on your dog, but it’s worthwhile doing. From the people I’ve spoken to that have both dogs and chickens, it shouldn’t be that difficult if you have a trainable pooch.