Mixing species on a small block

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).

We 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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