Golden Retrievers are known to be wonderful dogs that get along well with almost anyone and most other animals. However, they are still dogs, and dogs and chickens have a somewhat complicated relationship given that, well, dogs eat chicken.
However, dogs have also been used for centuries to protect farms that had poultry, so we have found ways to prevent our dogs from eating our chickens. But living under the same roof is quite different.
So, are golden retrievers good with chickens? Yes, golden retrievers are generally good with chickens thanks to their friendly and gentle nature, and they can be trained to not attack chickens more easily than other dog breeds, which is still important as goldens are instinctively drawn to birds.
So, if you are seeking a dog breed that is more likely to be gentle with chickens, golden retrievers are going to be excellent choice. Keep on reading to learn how to train your golden retriever to not attack chickens.
Why Are Golden Retrievers Good with Chickens?
Golden Retrievers are almost the perfect family dogs, and the same reasons that make them so good with children and other pets also makes them excellent with chickens. Here is a quick break down of these causes:
- They are Gentle
- They are affectionate
- Even-tempered and patient
- Bred to retrieve, not hunt
- They are the perfect companions
Let’s quickly discuss how each of these causes contribute in making golden retrievers good with chickens:
They are Gentle
Golden Retrievers are very gentle dogs. They are so gentle and trusting of people that they make for terrible guard dogs, but absolutely superb family dogs.
Goldens do not have a prey drive, so they are not likely to go chase smaller animals, and while they can get angry and even aggressive, it’s so incredibly rare compared with other dog breeds.
You can learn more about golden retrievers’ aggression here and learn what to do and how to recognize the signs.
They are Affectionate
Golden Retrievers are very affectionate dogs that love to cuddle, snuggle, and spend quality time with people and animals.
They are just looking for something to shower with love all the time, which means they are super loving towards other creatures that they feel need their love and protection against the world.
They are Even-Tempered and patient
Golden Retrievers are very even-tempered and patient dogs. They can stay calm when chickens become suddenly active – which they have a tendency to do.
This even-temper nature of golden retrievers is also the main reason they can handle kids so well and even rabbits – which can be very hyper-active all of a sudden and may trigger other dogs easily.
Bred to retrieve, not hunt
Golden Retrievers were bred to retriever game for hunters, but not to hunt themselves. They were also bred to “soft-mouth” birds and not bite or crush them while grabbing them for hunters.
However, golden retrievers still need to be trained to soft-mouth things and they don’t simply instinctively do it. With that being said, training them to do so is significantly easier to do than with other breeds.
It’s worth saying here that this breeding also causes chickens and other birds to be quite attention-grabing for golden retrievers than other animals, which is something you can use to your advantage when training them to protect the chickens and not to attack them.
The perfect companions
Golden Retrievers are happy-go-lucky dogs that just want to please their humans, and this makes training them very easy. In fact, goldens are amongst the easiest dog breeds to train, and it shows.
In fact, here is a video of a golden retriever mix that has adopted 10 small chicks, and just look at how wonderful the dog is with them:
Why You Still Need to Train Your Golden To Not Attack Chickens
If Goldens are so great, why do you still need to train them? Well, because they are still dogs. Golden Retrievers, as a breed, in general, are excellent dogs, but they are still dogs, and any dog, no matter how friendly they are, will be drawn to hunt and attack smaller prey.
This prey drive is very weak in golden retrievers, but it’s still there, and you can make this instinct much weaker through training your dog.
So, how to train your golden retriever to not attack chickens? Let’s find out!
How to Train Your Golden Retriever to Not Attack Chickens
Training is absolutely crucial for any dog to behave well around birds, even the super gentle golden retrievers.
Here is how to introduce your dog to chickens and train them to not bite or attack the birds in 10 easy steps:
- Revise the command “leave it”
- Choose a good time and place
- Keep both animals under control
- Introduce them
- Supervise and Intervene
- Increase the time they spend together
- Let the chicken loose
- Take the leash off the dog
- Supervise and Repeat
Let’s now take a look at how to exactly do each of these steps:
Revise the command “Leave it”
You will need your dog to have absolute recall of the command “leave it”. If they have not been on the command, now is the time, and if they have been trained on it before, you should take a couple of days to revise it with them first before introducing the chicken.
Other commands you should revise are the “sit” and “stay commands which you will need to get the dog to calm down when they get too excited. “settle down” is another great command to teach your dog that will be very helpful if they start chasing Chickens.
Choose a good Time and Place
For the time: It should be after your dog has had their daily exercise. You want them to be calm and exhausted when they get to meet the chicken so they don’t get excited easily and they are less likely to lunge forward or jump.
For the place: Choose a place that is not your dog’s feeding or sleeping spots as dogs can get territorial about these two places in particular.
Keep them under control
In the first few times you introduce the dog and chickens to each other, there should be a barrier between them but they should both be able to see each other clearly.
Keep the chicken in their cage and make sure they can clearly see the dog. Keep the dog on the leash, yes, even with the chickens inside the cage. The situation must be 100% under your control.
Slowly let the dog near the chickens cage but keep a close eye on the dog’s body language and the behavior of the chickens as well. The dog should not be moving too quickly as this can scare the chickens easily.
Watch out for the chickens movements as well. If the chickens are moving too quickly, they are likely scared of the dog and you should take the dog away and try again later.
The chickens’ movements can also excite the dog, and we want the dog to stay perfectly calm during the whole interaction.
Supervise and Intervene
If the dog gets too excited, ask it to sit and stay or to settle down. If they try to get to the chickens, take them away and tell them that it’s bad to do so by saying something like “bad dog” but without hitting them or pulling too strongly on their leash which could harm them.
If the dog stays calm as they approach the chicken, quietly and gently pet them and tell them that they are doing good to let them know that this is how they should behave.
Whenever something goes wrong, such as either of the animals gets scared or too excited, take the dog away and give them 10 minutes at least to calm down before trying again but from a larger distance and only getting closer as they both stay calm.
Increase the time they spend together
Through the following week, make 4-5 introduction sessions daily. Each time, gradually and very slightly increase the session time.
I like to add just one minute to each session, which adds up to an increase of about 4 to 5 minutes daily in session time.
If at any time your dog gets too excited, shorten the session time and increase the distance. By the end of this week, your dog will likely be able to stay perfectly calm during the whole session. If this doesn’t happen, repeat the same process for another week with the chickens still in their cages.
Let the Chickens Loose
While keeping the dog on the leash, let the chicken loose so they can be free to get as near the dog as they are comfortable with. You should still keep them at an arm’s reach so the dog couldn’t get one of them by simply lunging forward at any time.
Keep a firm on the leash at any time. If you have chicks, they should be on your lap with the dog next to you so you can intervene immediately if needed.
This also signals to the dog that the chickens are part of the pack, and as a leader of the pack, you are not allowing them to get to the chicks, which is something that dogs respect very much.
Keep the dog on the leash for one or two weeks until the chickens are comfortable roaming around the dog freely and the dog keeping calm while they do so.
Take the leash off
Finally, after 3-4 weeks of making the first introductions (and 1 or two weeks after letting the chickens loose), you can take the dog off the leash.
Always stay within 10 ft. (3.0 m) at most to be able to intervene at any point if the dog starts tchasing the chickens.
Keep these sessions to 10-15 minutes each day and gradually increase the time.
Supervise and Repeat
After 5 or 6 weeks, your dog should be able to stay perfectly calm and happy around chickens, but you should still supervise.
You should really never trust a dog with chickens without supervision, but as time goes on, your dog will become less and less likely to attack the chickens.
That’s it! You are now ready to introduce your golden retriever and chickens to each other. The good news at the end of the day is that goldens are very likely to become super gentle with your chickens.
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Is Chicken Poop Toxic to Dogs?
Yes, Chicken poop can be very dangerous, and even toxic to dogs. Dogs can get diseases such as Salmonella infections from eating the poop of chickens and other small animals. You should train your dog to not eat chicken poop and keep an eye on them if they keep following the chickens around.
You can learn how to stop your dog from eating everything here, the steps I’ve included are relatively simple to follow and really anyone can do it.
Can Dogs get sick from Chickens?
Yes, dogs can catch certain diseases from chickens – particularly certain bacteria such as Salmonella which dogs can get from Chickens when they eat their poop, something which dogs do a lot. They may also catch certain worms from chickens if the birds are carrying the parasitic eggs.