The J&A Chicken Ranch, the place I call home, is stocked with 2 dogs and 14 chickens.
Natural enemies, they are.
The dogs live in the fenced backyard and the chickens live in a chicken pen and garden shed close to the backyard. Somedays I like to let the dogs out, and somedays I like to let the chickens out, which leaves a logical deduction that someday they’re going to be out at the same time. I would hate to raise my chicks to survive the bitter cold, dangerous chicken hawks, and an owner that leaves them crushed under the water tub all day, only to be massacred by tame dogs.
I’ve been trying to think of a way to introduce the dogs to the 9 week old chickens.
My practical approach has been taking the dogs to the chicken pen, shaking my finger, and yelling “NO, NO, NO!” for at least 3 hours at a time.
My husband thinks no matter how many times I do that, if they are ever left alone, Drew Miller will kill them.
Drew Miller is my killer hound, my head of ranch security, notorious ’round these parts for polishing off possums, slaughtering skunks, and going a couple rounds with any porcupine dumb enough to stick a bunch of quills in his face.
When Drew Miller sees the chickens, he tenses, his ears go up, drool runs from his massive jowls, but when I give him the finger shake and the NO, NO, NO technique, he becomes disinterested, wags his long, powerful tail, and meanders off.
Grace, on the other hand, stares them down. She is on point, which doesn’t make any sense to me since she is a Heeler.
She won’t break eye contact with the chickens. She watches their every move. I think if given the opportunity, she might kill my chickens. J-Dub says she will only chase them.
I must make the dogs understand that I love these chickens. I’m trying to train them by going into the chicken pen and holding the chickens, talking to them, and petting them. The dogs just watch. I’m not sure they understand. I think they’re jealous.
They’re certainly curious of them. They haven’t acted aggressively toward the chickens yet, but I don’t trust them. No siree Bob. I’ve got some more work to do on training my dogs to love my chickens as much as I do. Or rather, less than I do. I’d be content if they’d just leave them be.
Teaching old dogs new tricks has taken on a whole new meaning for me.