How To Train Your Dog To Herd Chickens

If you have a farm or a backyard full of chickens, and you want some help with keeping them protected and in order, then why not enlist your dog?

Of course, you will need the right breed of dog and some training, but it’s easy enough and you could then have your furry companion help you out with daily tasks!

Not to mention that dogs really enjoy working alongside their owners! 

Once your dog is trained to herd chickens, not only will that be really helpful for everyday tasks, but also, it will be just as easy to get your dog to herd other types of birds and animals!

How To Train Your Dog To Herd Chickens

Dogs have been used for these sorts of tasks since forever, and it really is a great way of involving your pet even more in your life! But…how do you train your dog to herd chickens?

If you have no experience with working dogs then you might have no clue of where to start, and it might seem a little like an impossible accomplishment.

Luckily, we’ve got you covered. From the right dog breeds for herding to things you need to ensure before you get started, we will tell you exactly how to train your dog to herd chickens successfully! 

Let’s get right into it! 

Having The Right Dog For Herding

First of all, it has to be said that not all dog breeds are going to be up for the task, or good at it. For example, can you imagine a chihuahua herding chickens? Exactly. 

Now, this doesn’t mean that you 100% need to have a specific dog breed. With training, most dogs will be able to grasp the meaning of a task and complete it.

However, there are certain breeds of dogs that are specifically working dogs, and even more specifically, herding dogs. These have the instinct for herding, and all of the necessary innate skills and abilities, so it will be a lot easier to teach them what to do. 

Is your dog a working dog? And furthermore, is your dog a natural herding dog? Herding dogs need to be highly intelligent, as well as athletic, loyal, and observant. 

Here are some of the top herding dogs that would be up for the task:

  • The Australian Shepherd
  • The Border Collie
  • The Shetland Sheepdog
  • The Welsh Corgi
  • The Great Pyrenees

There are other working dog breeds that would make a great fit for herding chickens, and as we said, almost any dog will be able to do as such with the right training.

But the dogs listed are by far the most innately good at jobs such as chicken-herding, so they will take to the task with more ease! 

Before You Get Started

Before you start training your dog to herd chickens, there are a few things you need to have mastered, in order to ensure that both you and your dog are ready. 

First of all, make sure that you are up to the task. If you’ve never trained a working dog before, you are likely to struggle, so seek some advice and make sure to do your research.

Training a dog requires a lot of patience and consistency, but it will pay off. 

Next, make sure that your dog is familiar with chickens. If your dog has already come in contact with them before or sees the chicken regularly, this shouldn’t be an issue.

But if your dog has never seen a chicken before, you are going to have to allow for some familiarization before you actually begin training, especially because your dog will be excited at the novelty. 

Finally, there are a few basic commands that your dog has to have mastered before you train them to herd chickens. This is because you will need to use them while training your dog. These commands are “come”, “away”, “sit”, “stay”, and “fetch”.

Make sure that your dog does these without hesitation, by practicing them a few times and going over them, as they are vital! Once both you and your dog are ready and eager to get started, you can finally begin the training! All you need is the chickens…

Training Your Dog To Herd Chickens

In order to successfully train your dog to herd chickens, you are going to need a few things. Mainly, treats. Without treats, there is no training. Treats will serve as positive reinforcement, and teach your dog what is good and, therefore, what they have to do.

You will also need chickens (duh), and a safe environment in which the training can take place. You will also then need a leash, especially for the first few steps of the training, and to ensure your dog is under control while things are still fairly new.

And of course, you will need a lot of time, and a bucket-load of patience. But that’s pretty much it! 

Now, for the actual training. There are many ways in which you can go about it, and you should adapt the procedure to your dog’s needs, so there are many ways of doing it right.

But just so that you have a guide to follow, here are our step-by-step instructions for training a dog to herd chickens:

  1. Start with your dog on the leash. Walk your dog around you, and switch between “come” and “away” so that your dog gets used to switching directions with ease. 
  2. With the use of treats and repetition, teach your dog a “walk up” command. You can do this by having your dog sit and stay, and throwing a toy in front of him. Then, when you say to walk up, your dog should get up and walk towards the toy to retrieve it. 
  3. On the leash, combine and practice the “walk up”, “come”, and “away” commands, near the chickens. This should teach your dog to walk up to the chickens and then move in one direction or another, depending on what you are saying. 
  4. Repeat step three, off the leash. Have your dog enter the pen with the herd of chickens, and repeat the walk up, come, and away. This should have your dog near the chickens, and then herd them clockwise and anti-clockwise depending on which way your dog moves, instructed by you. 
  5. If your dog gets too close to the chickens, or something goes wrong, instantly have your dog sit or lie down, and stay. Wait until the chickens calm down, and then try again. Eventually, your dog’s instincts will start kicking in, and it should work like a dream! 

Final Thoughts

If you have the right dog, with the right herding instincts, the training should be more than successful, and it will mean that you can utilize your dog to better protect and herd your chickens.

Working dogs highly enjoy the activity and challenge that this presents, and it will even serve as bonding time. As for the training itself, you will need treats and a lot of patience.

But once all of the basic commands are mastered, it is all about combining them, and practicing them with the chickens until they work! 

Daniel Johnson
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