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Subject: Pit Bull attacks my chickens. I know just what to do... rss

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Update appended 13-Dec-2016
Update appended 13-Jan-2017
Update appended 13-Feb-2017
Update appended 16-Mar-2017

A few days ago, I noticed a visitor on our land--a remarkably rare event. A serious terrier, probably only a few months old, stalking around several hundred feet off. Not exactly what you want to see if you have free-range chickens, like our 8 New Hampshires.

He chased the first hen, who evaded with astounding agility, and that was all my border collie could stand. They tussled, and that took the stranger dog off. The 2 dogs ran around the woods for the next 15 minutes, with the puppy trying to dominate my 5-year old BC (who has been dominant here for the last 2 years). My dog, raised from a puppy here in these woods, could easily outrun the pup, but the pup was very strong--they were a match for each other. But I watched to make sure no ears were nipped, no, this was rough, but bloodless, play.

I eventually walked a quarter mile out to a part of our woods that is about half way between his house and ours (still our property, but dogs don't read deeds). Then I urinated on a rock there, and let him know this was the boundary.

My wife had some ideas to defend the chickens from this interloper:
Vinegar in a water pistol,
locking up the chickens all day (we lock them in for their protection only after they roost at sunset),
making the owner keep the dog on his little postage stamp of lawn.

No. I knew just what to do, I got to work. The next morning, I walked up to our pee-established "boundary" and of course the puppy heard us coming and was instantly down to meet us. My BC and the pup immediately went at it, but I ignored them (ignore behavior you don't want) and I set out on a long woods walk. Not far away--less than a mile (our extensive trail system goes in loops) but still for a long walk. Before an hour was up, the new dog was falling in line taking his cue from my dog who knows how to walk in the woods. I sat on the ground, and like any puppy hungry for attention he ran toward me. I called him over using his visitor name (I don't know his real name) and praised him when he got there. I could just barely give him any pats before he was running about excited. He even managed one sit, only a few seconds, but long enough to get the praise.

2 days ago, we took a shorter walk, and our dogs spent less time in play and more time in exploration and chores. Now he would come pretty reliably when called, so it was time to go over to the chickens. New dog locked on to the nearest and I could see his ears go back and his back legs coil--I gave him a sharp "Buddy! NO!" But he lunged!

However, that young pup was going to get a hard lesson that ignoring my "no" was a very bad idea. The nearest bird was our rooster, keeping himself between the dog and the hens. The pup got an explosion of talons and wings in his face and away he shot, tail between his legs. Again, a few dislodged feathers but no damage anywhere.

Yesterday, Buddy could come when called, sit (for 2 seconds, like any puppy). But he could walk in the woods, behave like a grown up dog for whole minutes at a time. This time, when he locked on to some poor chicken, my sharp "No!" was able to disengage him! A quick command called him over and I heaped on the praise when he did it, ignoring the bird.

Today, my wife and I worked in the yard as normal, our 2 dogs (our BC and a very old yellow lab), Buddy, and 8 chickens. I had to tell him No only once or twice the whole day, otherwise he was just hanging out, enjoying the company.

Now the dog will grow up to be a formidable force (Pit Bulls can be tough), but he will understand the chickens are not to be destroyed. They are to be defended, not hunted. Over the years, we have lost many, many birds to predators. Having one of our borders defended by such a dog might be useful. Once he thinks the chickens are family, I'd like to see the fox, owl, raccoon, fisher cat, or even bear that will take him on--and yes, those are all animals that've taken birds here in the past.

By the end of the winter, I predict Buddy will be an old family friend. I've raised 4 dogs from puppies here, looks like I'm going to 'raise' another.

My wife cautions that the owners may move, and Buddy would be lost. I told her the training and good behavior that will come from the hours of work and attention will put the dog in good stead no matter where he lives.


Hope this brightens someone's day. And perhaps gives someone a new idea how to deal with pesky neighbors.


====================================================================

Update (13-Dec-2016):

Buddy now barks in his yard when he's looking for friends. If I hear him bark when I'm out, I go out to our border rock and call him. He comes running, excited as any puppy you've ever seen.

I let him and my border collie run about playing and chasing, while I walk around in the woods. Once he has run off a bit of energy, it's time to work: He comes when called. He will "sit" on command. He can "stay" up to 15 seconds... if no other dog is about. He and my border collie will now only tussle if treats are involved.

We then walk around the yard, so he must interact with the chickens. When he ignores them, or sees them but doesn't engage with them, it's time for praise and treats.

Eventually I tell him "beat it" and now he knows that means no more fun today and he goes home (a little dejected I think) and we go inside.

If he chases a hen during his visit, he gets stern "NO"s and then after he's off the chase (the rooster and my BC can turn him) it's "beat it" and no more fun.

By using this method, he's chased the hens less than a handful of times. And he seems less interested every day since he is getting into the habit of not chasing. Eventually he'll be able to take that rooster but if chasing is not done when he's a puppy, he won't think to do it later.

What a smart dog, easily trainable like any good puppy. He's going to be a good friend.

====================================================================

Update (13-Jan-2017):

Buddy comes over about 10 times a week now. After he's done some running, he can come, sit and stay (for a short time). Now that he knows those basics, I've started with more complex commands.

Buddy is learning about our 'gate.' The gate is a spot in our driveway about 50 feet from the road where I make my dog sit and stay while I cross the street to get the mail. Now when both dogs are on a mail walk, my border collie, Zak, will of course stay behind the gate as always. But Buddy doesn't know about it so I have to put him on a stay, then walk down the driveway. Buddy of course follows, gets a "no," and I walk him back to the gate and put him back on a stay. My dog required about 3 or 4 months to obey the gate--Buddy, taking his cue from my already trained dog, is learning much faster. In less than a week he is already noticeably avoiding the gate.

I also lavishly praise my dog while he does his 'mousing' command: he patrols our woodpiles putting his nose in every gap, chasing the various rodents (mostly squirrels) out. Buddy knows Zak is doing something to get the praise but is clueless how to proceed. He now follows Zak and puts his nose into holes as well. Eventually they will work as a pair and the rodents won't stand a chance.

Buddy has many rough edges and gets only a few minutes of formal training each day, but he's coming along. Soon he'll be my favorite neighbor.

====================================================================

Update (13-Feb-2017):

Want to see Buddy? Here is my border collie Zak, bored with a 'stay' command. Buddy is on the right, also showing off a 'stay.'



As nice a dog as you'd want to meet. Hasn't done more than glanced at the chickens in weeks.

My wife pointed out that Buddy is a female dog. I still refer to him as 'him' just because it's now habit--turns out it doesn't matter at all to Buddy.

====================================================================

Update (16-Mar-2017):

A rare February heat wave meant the driveway had actual dirt showing. The free-ranging chickens hadn't seen real dirt in months, so they congregated there. The spot they were lolling was a quarter mile from their pen, across lawn, glade, forest, and field.

Running chickens through such an obstacle course is tough even for a seasoned herder like Zak, our border collie. It was getting late in the day, so it was time for a round up. And just as I called Zak down the driveway, beyond the flock, here comes Buddy for a visit! He was excited--he'd never been on a difficult round up before.

Of course, excitement is just what you DON'T want when herding birds--just nice easy "walk up"s--so I was extremely worried where the birds would end up.

But I ignored Buddy, concentrating on the job at hand. I walked up, telling Zak "walk up" and the birds started moving. Buddy fell right into line, taking point between me and the birds. Zak moved up to flank, and Buddy hung back about 10 feet. I walked slowly up, giving no commands (except the occasional "look back" to Zak). Buddy was a little aggressive when a hen left the flock, but calling him brought him back to point, allowing the hen to return.

Sure enough, in 10 minutes, Buddy and Zak walked those chickens right back to the coop, and when I gave Zak a "That'll do" he and Buddy immediately ran off to play. I've never seen a terrier do such a beautiful job of herding.

What a good dog! Looks like things are working exactly as I'd hoped.

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Robert Sell
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Great story, BC are wonderfully intelligent and such a joy (if trained).
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Johnny O aka Johnny Soul
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It does brighten my day and I'll forward this to a dog advocate friend of mine. She does several hours a week on local radio and every Wednesday in the 4 o'clock hour she has a show called Waggin' Wednesday on which she has guests who are with the Humane Society, Metro Louisville Animal Service, many of the local rescue organization and pet related businesses. She is a locally well known media professional and volunteers as emcee when many of rescue orgs hold a fund raiser.


Through her I've met the folks and mascots at 2 different pit rescue orgs., Tyson's Chance and Saving Sunny. The latter founded and named by a server at a local river front restaurant who, along with many patrons, witnessed a pit bull pup being thrown 80 feet off the Second Street bridge into the Ohio River. EDIT: The Pitty survived the fall and was rescued from the river. He was adopted by the server and named Sunny.


One of my business neighbors is a professional dog trainer. I think his business card says he's a former Navy Seal Senior K9 Trainer. We've discussed different breeds and what it comes down to is despite the actual physical attributes and mythical attributes of Pit Bull Terriers, a pit is just a dog. It wants the same things other dogs want and one of those things is, it wants leadership.


If you haven't already, why don't you post pics in this thread?

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1648212/official-post-pictu...
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Great story, and so full of DIBS.

I've trained my dog to be very obedient, to the point that she's almost on remote control, but she has a lot of chicken-murder deep in her heart, and I haven't been able to break that. We had to divide our property with a fence.
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Wendell
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I saw the title of the thread and I thought it was going to end with a rifle and a canine corpse. I'm glad you had a better approach!
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Bryan Thunkd
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Quote:
I eventually walked a quarter mile out to a part of our woods that is about half way between his house and ours (still our property, but dogs don't read deeds). Then I urinated on a rock there, and let him know this was the boundary.


Neighbor's wife (looking out her kitchen window): Jim! He's doing it again!
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Matthew Sklar
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wifwendell wrote:
I saw the title of the thread and I thought it was going to end with a rifle and a canine corpse. I'm glad you had a better approach!


I had nearly the same initial thought, only mine was a bit more RSP; something along the lines of "Why not consider moving to Montreal? The city recently 'banned pit bulls', so your chickens should be safe".

I'm glad everything turned out well. Your story shows that, in the end, there's no such thing as bad dogs; only poorly trained ones.
 
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Jeff
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Hmmm... Chicken just doesn't seem like his style.

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Gary Averett
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uh...whose turn is it?
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Great story!
I have an old English bulldog and a young Pug. One time when I was watching them interact with/ignore our chickens, the old bulldog was laying down doing her thing when our dominant Rhode Island Red hen flanked her. I issued a "come" command to the bulldog which she proceeded to blatantly ignore and her "reward" was a swift peck to her butthole. She, realizing that the "come" command is serious and not to be ignored, immediately ran up to my side. I tried to not laugh.
Today I can trust my dogs to protect the hens. They all get along more or less and the dogs keep cats, fox and raccoons out of my yard (I am a curmudgeon after all, "get off of my lawn!).
Now if I can figure out what to do about the Cooper's hawk flying around.
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guy
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Update (13-Dec-2016):

Buddy now barks in his yard when he's looking for friends. If I hear him bark when I'm out, I go out to our border rock and call him. He comes running, excited as any puppy you've ever seen.

I let him and my border collie run about playing and chasing, while I walk around in the woods. Once he has run off a bit of energy, it's time to work: He comes when called. He will "sit" on command. He can "stay" up to 15 seconds... if no other dog is about. He and my border collie will now only tussle if treats are involved.

We then walk around the yard, so he must interact with the chickens. When he ignores them, or sees them but doesn't engage with them, it's time for praise and treats.

Eventually I tell him "beat it" and now he knows that means no more fun today and he goes home (a little dejected I think) and we go inside.

If he chases a hen during his visit, he gets stern "NO"s and then after he's off the chase (the rooster and my BC can turn him) it's "beat it" and no more fun.

By using this method, he's chased the hens less than a handful of times. And he seems less interested every day since he is getting into the habit of not chasing. Eventually he'll be able to take that rooster but if chasing is not done when he's a puppy, he won't think to do it later.

What a smart dog, easily trainable like any good puppy. He's going to be a good friend.

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Great Googly Moogly it's
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You are a good person! Thank you for sharing this story.
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sunkencheerio wrote:
You are a good person! Thank you for sharing this story.

Thank you for reading my story.

I admit this 'solution' to a potential conflict with a neighbor is not for everyone. It is the most time-consuming method and not everyone has the luxury of hours and hours of dog training. Also, not everyone is good at dog training, but I have had many years of experience and had several successes. This solution may not for everyone, but it seems right up my street.

In fact, it would be harder to find a bigger 'dog person' than me. I will spend 3 minutes trying to pat a snarling, snapping dog protecting an empty car or truck in a parking lot. Do not try this at home, but for those interested: the trick is to speak calmly and soothingly and not flinch at the snaps, spend minutes with your fist out, do nothing suddenly, and remember that after you get a pat in (yes, I do!) that the dog will have to 'go back to work' and then bark and snarl at you as you leave so be ready for that.

I'd like to think that my nature is to find conflict resolution with the best global result. That is, safe, free-ranging chickens and a tied-up dog is not as good as safe, free-ranging chickens and a free-ranging dog, and there's really only one way to get that result: training.

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M@tthijs
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I am curious though: were is the dog owner in this story?
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I enjoyed your story.

My latest run in with a dog wasn't that great. I went for a walk in the woods with my family. My son (10) found a walking stick and trodded along. Suddenly a medium sized dog comes rushing out of the woods, grabs the stick and runs off with it. My son was quite shaken by this unexpected raid.
Shortly after a woman appeared, calling the dog. Which didn't listen. We addressed her and she was more like "so what" than anything else. We said we would like the stick back and the next 5 minutes we watched her as she called out the dog's name, dog would stop, look at her, she would run to the dog, dog would happily run away with the stick, rinse and repeat.
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_Kael_ wrote:
I enjoyed your story.

My latest run in with a dog wasn't that great. I went for a walk in the woods with my family. My son (10) found a walking stick and trodded along. Suddenly a medium sized dog comes rushing out of the woods, grabs the stick and runs off with it. My son was quite shaken by this unexpected raid.
Shortly after a woman appeared, calling the dog. Which didn't listen. We addressed her and she was more like "so what" than anything else. We said we would like the stick back and the next 5 minutes we watched her as she called out the dog's name, dog would stop, look at her, she would run to the dog, dog would happily run away with the stick, rinse and repeat.
shake

I guess some people don't know how to train dogs. Which reminds me of something that happened to me some years back ...

I used to live next to some open ground, popular with dog walkers. One day I'm loading stuff into my car, when a dog comes up, very interested in what I'm doing. The owner was about 30 yards away, calling it - but it was ignoring him. So I stopped what I was doing, looked the dog in the eye, then pointed at the owner and said "Go!" sternly - the dog immediately left me and returned to its owner.
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_Kael_ wrote:
I am curious though: where is the dog owner in this story?

The owner is a single mom with 2 pre-school aged kids and who has to go to work every day. She doesn't have a lot of extra time to deal with stuff external to her family situation. I'm not sure that getting a puppy in those circumstances is the best idea, but there you go.

Someone stressed out and crunched for time is not in a great position to do dog training which takes a calm, steady approach. And toddlers are not good trainers either. If I didn't train the dog, I'm not certain he would get enough training to be a decent citizen, so this helps everyone.
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Buddy comes over about 10 times a week now. After he's done some running, he can come, sit and stay (for a short time). Now that he knows those basics, I've started with more complex commands.

Buddy is learning about our 'gate.' The gate is a spot in our driveway about 50 feet from the road where I make my dog sit and stay while I cross the street to get the mail. Now when both dogs are on a mail walk, my border collie, Zak, will of course stay behind the gate as always. But Buddy doesn't know about it so I have to put him on a stay, then walk down the driveway. Buddy of course follows, gets a "no," and I walk him back to the gate and put him back on a stay. My dog required about 3 or 4 months to obey the gate--Buddy, taking his cue from my already trained dog, is learning much faster. In less than a week he is already noticeably avoiding the gate.

I also lavishly praise my dog while he does his 'mousing' command: he patrols our woodpiles putting his nose in every gap, chasing the various rodents (mostly squirrels) out. Buddy knows Zak is doing something to get the praise but is clueless how to proceed. He now follows Zak and puts his nose into holes as well. Eventually they will work as a pair and the rodents won't stand a chance.

Buddy has many rough edges and gets only a few minutes of formal training each day, but he's coming along. Soon he'll be my favorite neighbor.
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Want to see Buddy? Here is my border collie Zak, bored with a 'stay' command. Buddy is on the right, also showing off a 'stay.'



As nice a dog as you'd want to meet. Hasn't done more than glanced at the chickens in weeks.

My wife pointed out that Buddy is a female dog. I still refer to him as 'him' just because it's now habit--turns out it doesn't matter at all to Buddy.


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A rare February heat wave meant the driveway had actual dirt showing. The free-ranging chickens hadn't seen real dirt in months, so they congregated there. The spot they were lolling was a quarter mile from their pen, across lawn, glade, forest, and field.

Running chickens through such an obstacle course is tough even for a seasoned herder like Zak, our border collie. It was getting late in the day, so it was time for a round up. And just as I called Zak down the driveway, beyond the flock, here comes Buddy for a visit! He was excited--he'd never been on a difficult round up before.

Of course, excitement is just what you DON'T want when herding birds--just nice easy "walk up"s--so I was extremely worried where the birds would end up.

But I ignored Buddy, concentrating on the job at hand. I walked up, telling Zak "walk up" and the birds started moving. Buddy fell right into line, taking point between me and the birds. Zak moved up to flank, and Buddy hung back about 10 feet. I walked slowly up, giving no commands (except the occasional "look back" to Zak). Buddy was a little aggressive when a hen left the flock, but calling him brought him back to point, allowing the hen to return.

Sure enough, in 10 minutes, Buddy and Zak walked those chickens right back to the coop, and when I gave Zak a "That'll do" he and Buddy immediately ran off to play. I've never seen a terrier do such a beautiful job of herding.

What a good dog! Looks like things are working exactly as I'd hoped.
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Great Googly Moogly it's
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Amazing work! I had no idea terriers could be trained to herd! cool
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