Mixing species on a small block

SIMON GOODALL
Last updated 09:27 13/09/2012

Well it has been a couple of months since I have blogged - no excuse really but now with better weather I'm back into it again to help my fellow blogger Nick.

So what have we been up to in the humble abode? Well in the last two weeks we have managed to get a pet lamb called Wally, and three chooks called Cassie, Daisy and Maisy. We also picked up a new kitten called Doris, a beautiful rescue cat who had been mauled by dogs. This is in addition to Oska, Luccas and Winston (two golden retrievers and cat).

Simon's dogsWe are free-ranging everything so the dogs are in essence wandering around with the chickens, cats and the lamb. People think this is impossible but the trick is how to handle it if you are thinking of one day going down this road - and many people do not succeed.

If you are on a small block and considering getting chickens or a lamb or some cattle, you want to make sure that your dog doesn't think it is a one-off. People make the mistake of putting their chickens in a run and keeping them in there so of course it is like giving you ice-cream behind a counter each day but not letting you eat it. This is the same logic with dogs - putting the chickens behind the fence is like taunting the dogs and they will do anything to get in the chicken coop. However, working on a good "leave" beforehand and then taking the dogs out with the chickens on a lead and feeding the chooks and the dogs at the same time lets them all cope. Dogs love chickens because they run, chooks hate dogs because they chase when they run away. So work on making sure all species are calm and used to each other.

Or let me put it into humanspeak. If you had ice-cream and the same one every day you would get used to it and get bored with the novelty. Let the dogs just watch the chickens when they are out with you and a good "leave" and reward when they go near. Learn to trust your dogs - ours are 5 years and 11 years old and are excellent with them all. Nothing quite like seeing a lamb and chickens come to the back door with the dogs for some food.

Now back to the madhouse!

Simon Goodall is CEO of Dog Guru Ltd, a nationwide dog training company. 

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18 comments
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Gee   #1   09:44 am Sep 13 2012

Coool I want to do Boxer Dog + chooks next year...Simon what's the best response when the dog does chase? Dog is very good around pet lambs already, will play with the cat (she wins), but birds/fowl he loves it when they run fly and sqwauk in disgust (ducks and pukekos in the paddock) more that he's won by upsetting them, not that he's preying on them.

Eddie   #2   09:55 am Sep 13 2012

Dogs and cats have the ability to get along with other species quite successfully if they are socialised to do so. My sister's Staffy gets along fine with cats, rabbits and a toddler. My cats, however, having never had a bird as part of the family, caught someone's (presumably) pet budgie and killed it. It was loose in the neighbourhood so my cats were simply doing what cats do and can't be blamed for that. It would have been quite amusing had it not dawned on me that someone in the area might be missing their beloved pet bird...

Sharon   #3   09:57 am Sep 13 2012

Very inspiring, thanks Simon. I've been contemplating getting chooks and wondered about their co-habitating with other species so you've given me hope. And good on you for providing a great home for lots more critters.

Eva   #4   10:10 am Sep 13 2012

Don't count your chickens yet! My dog, cat and chooks got on really well for years, all roaming where they liked. Actually despite the dog hunting rabbits the dog and cat did not even seem to see the chickens. Until one day one of the chickens decided to try to eat the dog biscuits. Well, the chicken did not survive this and the dog learned that chickens are very tasty. Since then chickens have been in a coop for their own safety. Despite my best efforts the dog would only leave the chickens alone while I was around, but could not resist trying to get them in a corner when I was not looking.

Jabes   #5   via mobile 10:11 am Sep 13 2012

yeah we have about 6 free range chickens and a free range dog too. he is quite happy with them. he even keeps them out of the garage and house now herds them along till they are back where they should be! only issue is if they are pecking at his bone in which case he will chase puts the underside of his muzzle on them and holds them down for a couple of seconds then lets them walk off proclaiming their indignation!

Fleebitten   #6   10:49 am Sep 13 2012

I have a German Shorthaired Pointer - so one of the ultimate hunting bird dogs. From day one (he's 18 mths old) - he has known what is home patch and what is not home. Hence while he rounds the ducks up, i think mainly to annoy the drake Pekin, he doesn't get them near his mouth. We have chooks that free range with the Pekins, AND we have bred pheasants - that also come back at feeding times. If he is getting too "friendly" with the feathered friends, we make it sit and wait at the gate while we feed them all, until he has calmed and can come back intot he paddock. If they are trying to get his food, esp bones or bikkies, he jsut picks up and moves away. He's henpecked! His brother spends time with us, and while at ours, they both leave the birds alone. However when brother is at his house, he cannot be trusted with the birds! Take them off property though and they are hunting fiends. Though i actually need to watch the gingja ninja as he is partial to pheasant!

Suzie   #7   11:14 am Sep 13 2012

I used to have a free range home. I would often get home to find the parrot had let himself out of his cage, had fed the cat & the dog the scraps off the kitchen bench, and all three (cat, dog, & parrot) would be curled up on the couch or the bed together.

A few years later, it was the cat, the dog and the lamb. All three would wait at the door to be let in, and would curl up together in front of the heater. And they shared each others food. When the lamb was killed for christmas dinner, the cat and dog rather enjoyed their lamb bones, and are still fine as anything around other lambs & sheep.

Dogguru   #8   via mobile 11:31 am Sep 13 2012

Hi Gee I recommend just a quick no and walking away then come back. If you do the leave command and nail all the basics before you get the Chooks you will be away

2 cats 2 dogs   #9   12:46 pm Sep 13 2012

We have 2 Flemish giant rabbits free ranging with 5 hens (and our 2 cats & 2 dogs of course) and they all get on fine now that they have learnt to respect each others spaces. One of our dogs used to have a real problem with chasing birds - until she got attacked by a swan! The fixed her obsession immediately and with not lasting harm to swan or dog. The rabbits often get a peck or 2 from the older hens but the 2 younger pullets, who grew up with rabbits, are much more tolerant and will snuggle up for some furry warmth.

Emz   #10   01:30 pm Sep 13 2012

I have 2 dogs, 2 cats, 2 guinea pigs, 2 ring necks, 18 chooks, 3 ducks, 20 horses, 3 sheep, 2 goats and a cow, they all (except the guinea pigs and ring necks) live very happily free ranging the place, the dogs and cats never take any notice of the birds and guinea pigs, the cats will even eat with the chooks if I feed them dinner scraps. Luckily I have never had any problems and last weekend we even added a partridge to the mix :-)


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