GSDs with chickens: any advice? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 87 (permalink) Old 04-02-2019, 08:22 PM Thread Starter
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GSDs with chickens: any advice?

Ever since we’ve moved out to the country, it’s been one of my goals to have chickens. Finally, I feel like I can start researching and planning, and would love to get a small flock by next spring. I was wondering if any of you have chickens. If so, I’d love to hear how you manage both GSDs and chickens. I’d welcome any wisdom or experiences you feel like sharing.

My specific question is about coop placement in relation to the dogs.

We have a total of 5 acres. Our backyard is about 1.5-2 acres fenced (5 ft chain link) for the dogs. I would prefer to put the chicken coop (with a secure covered run) in the fenced yard. I’d like for the coop to be closer to the house so that I could watch for predators, for ease of feeding and watering ect, and if I’m being completely honest just to see, enjoy, and interact with the chickens more easily. Also, I thought if we picked a docile, heavier breed, the chickens might possibly stay in the fence for free-ranging if I clipped their wings (I’m not sure how realistic that hope is). I would not let the GSDs out in the yard while the chickens were loose.

My question: would chickens in a secure coop (and covered run) be disturbed to be in the back yard with the dogs (at times, much of the day the dogs are inside). My GSDs have never met chickens, so I’m not sure how they would react. If the chickens were calm, I think the dogs would most likely ignore them. But I worry that the dogs would charge the run if the chickens fluttered or freaked out. I would be nearby, of course, and I wouldn't let them harass the chickens, and I'd train them not to do that (or do my best). But can chickens feel secure and do well near dogs if they have a large safe pen with cover/hiding places, or should I plan on putting the coop farther out in the acreage away from the house? Any recommendations for chicken breeds that might do well in this scenario?

Thanks for any and all advice. I’m a total newbie with chickens!

Last edited by sebrench; 04-02-2019 at 08:29 PM.
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post #2 of 87 (permalink) Old 04-02-2019, 08:28 PM
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The chickens shouldn't have any issues with being next to the dogs as long as they don't bark and harass them.

As far as your dogs go it will really depend on how much prey drive they have an what training you put in.

Our set up is tall dog panels at a decent size that is covered and attached to the coop. The door to the outside enclosure is closed at night so they can't get out and nothing can get in. That said chickens with limited space tend to dig/scratch huge holes.

All in all you'll probably be find as long as your dogs don't harass them. Ours have been. They could care less about the dogs and the dogs know to give them space.
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post #3 of 87 (permalink) Old 04-03-2019, 09:00 AM Thread Starter
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The chickens shouldn't have any issues with being next to the dogs as long as they don't bark and harass them.

As far as your dogs go it will really depend on how much prey drive they have an what training you put in.

Our set up is tall dog panels at a decent size that is covered and attached to the coop. The door to the outside enclosure is closed at night so they can't get out and nothing can get in. That said chickens with limited space tend to dig/scratch huge holes.

All in all you'll probably be find as long as your dogs don't harass them. Ours have been. They could care less about the dogs and the dogs know to give them space.
Thanks for the insight. I'm glad to hear that the GSD/chicken combo has worked out for someone! Did you have to train your dogs to give them space or did they just do that naturally?
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post #4 of 87 (permalink) Old 04-03-2019, 09:20 AM
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I don’t have chickens but I would imagine you would have to train them to leave them alone by starting with some long leads and leave it’s. Not allowing them to have that intense focus on the chickens. It would be much the same as bringing any small animal in the house. Settting boundaries and rules. Dogs with higher prey drive it is more of a challenge not that it can be done but boundaries may be more strict for safety of the chickens. I don’t see the chickens having issues as long as they are safe.
https://youtu.be/FDJlSDgRww4
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post #5 of 87 (permalink) Old 04-03-2019, 09:35 AM
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I don't let my chickens free range with my dogs- but they often see the dogs walk by their pen and they are unbothered. In fact, they approach the fence when they see me and beg for scraps with our without dogs present. I've thought about putting the coop in my fenced yard, but I prefer them out in their own area.

You can have GSD and chickens together, but it will depend on the GSD, and how much training you want to put in and risk you want to take. Some GSD will be fine without any effort, others will take more work to get chicken-tolerant.
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post #6 of 87 (permalink) Old 04-03-2019, 10:40 AM Thread Starter
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I don't let my chickens free range with my dogs- but they often see the dogs walk by their pen and they are unbothered.
Thanks, this is one of the things I was wondering! I was concerned that the chickens might freak out in their pens if the dogs were just nearby doing normal dog things. I don't think I want the chickens to free range when the dogs are loose either.

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Originally Posted by Jenny720 View Post
I don’t have chickens but I would imagine you would have to train them to leave them alone by starting with some long leads and leave it’s. Not allowing them to have that intense focus on the chickens. It would be much the same as bringing any small animal in the house. Settting boundaries and rules. Dogs with higher prey drive it is more of a challenge not that it can be done but boundaries may be more strict for safety of the chickens. I don’t see the chickens having issues as long as they are safe.
https://youtu.be/FDJlSDgRww4
Thanks for the video! I like the flat coated retriever she was using for the demo. He had such a kind, sweet expression. We do have a cat, and the dogs are decent around her, so I'm hopeful they can adjust to chickens. My first GSD that I had years ago was good with cats, rabbits, various pet birds, parrots, hamsters. He grew up as part of a menagerie though and was used to me bringing home new animals.

Last edited by sebrench; 04-03-2019 at 10:47 AM.
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post #7 of 87 (permalink) Old 04-03-2019, 12:46 PM
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Thanks for the insight. I'm glad to hear that the GSD/chicken combo has worked out for someone! Did you have to train your dogs to give them space or did they just do that naturally?
Well it really varies, on both the set up and the dog. My GSD has pretty low prey drive. Our neighbors have some chicken they were letting free range the neighborhood which nobody was happy about. My dad unknowing to me was lettting the dogs chase the chickens because he didn't like the neighbors and didn't want the chicken at our house.

So before we got chickens I had my dog(gsd/lab mix high chase bird/things drive but doesn't want to kill) at my mom's house and the door was left open. My dog went outside, saw her free roaming chickens and started chasing them because she thought she was allowed to. She's biddable and smart so I got after her than once and then made it clear chickens were off limits. She's good now and wants to investigate them but won't try to chase or go near them now. And the fenced in chickens are boring compared to the rest of everything. My purebred GSD is a very soft dog and leaves them be.

I will say though I know a lot of people who have chickens free roaming their property and have no issues with their dogs. Out in the country you see it a lot. The chickens have a coop and free range of everything else and dogs are taught to leave them be. So unless your dogs are particularly prey driven or headstrong fenced in chickens shouldn't be an issue. As others said don't let them out together.

I would check to make sure the dogs don't try to dig in or around the enclosure though before you leave them unsupervised in the yard with the coop.
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post #8 of 87 (permalink) Old 04-03-2019, 12:55 PM
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Start with a breed that is suuuuuper calm. That'll make everything easier.

My favorites are my Brahmas (light or dark or buff). They seem to learn really quickly that the dogs aren't coyotes, they absolutely will not jump 3-4' fences, and they rarely (never) explode into a flapping feather tantrum.

Most of my other chicken breeds have caught on (at different rates), except for the Hamburgs & Silver Phoenixes, who still throw tantrums and scatter when I go in the run with a dog.

I do puppy style obedience outside the chicken run, then progress to obedience inside the chicken run, then fade that into the dog being simply allowed around the chickens. I correct for any chase precursors - eyeing, crouching, freezing up, so it never escalates to the point of actual chasing. It's a lot harder to break them of the habit once they learn how much fun birds are to chase.

I'm adding ducklings in a few weeks, and I'm going to allow my dogs a few minutes to sniff them and watch them every day, from Day #1 post-hatch until they move outside. I did that the last time I mail ordered chicks, and it made it MUCH easier to convince the birds that the dog isn't out to get them. But if the dog shows anything beyond polite interest (assuming it's an adult dog) I'd correct it.

Protection from predators trumps convenience, for me. But I have a lot of predators in my yard, so I'm not tempted to roll the dice.

When my next batch of young birds moves outside, the enclosed pen will be outside my office window. I put a dog bed right next to that window, and I'm going to have one of my dogs sleep in that room and be closed in that room when I'm gone, to keep an eye on things, at least for the first month. The foxes in my yard take off running when the dogs bark at them through the window, so I have every intention of using proximity to help protect the little fuzzballs.
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post #9 of 87 (permalink) Old 04-03-2019, 02:33 PM
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I like brahmas and buff orpingtons. Super calm and docile. I have high drive intense dogs and I just want super easy chickens. Decent layers and nice looking hens, too. Good for eating if you want, though I don't think I'll go there unless I get a rooster and end up with a male chicken excess (ie anything more than one).
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post #10 of 87 (permalink) Old 04-03-2019, 02:59 PM
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Bonus..... I have yet to have a nasty Brahma rooster. They've all been awesome.

I've had nasty roosters in many shapes and sizes, and I'm over dealing with that. I don't care how pretty they are, if they continually attack me, bye bye. If you do decide to let your birds range for portions of the day, adding a rooster is something to consider. A really good rooster will keep an eye on things, and they make chortling "COME HITHER" chortle noises to call the hens over when they find especially good bugs or treats. One of my current boys marches over and puts himself between the dog and his favorite ladies, which is rather gentlemanly....

Buuuuut if your rooster isn't up to the task or starts attacking you (or the dogs), you'll have to decide how much you're willing to put up with.
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