Your chickens are indeed unsafe around Australian Shepherds, and they are in no way near being a fan of dogs.
However, this is a common misconception that all herding dogs have an aggressive demeanor and a strong drive for their prey.
They fail to know that these intelligent breeds will take no time to use their brilliant minds and proper training to build a healthy bonding between chickens and pups.
So are Australian Shepherds good with chicken?
Here is a complete guide to answering all of your million questions swarming in your head right now and training techniques to get the best results.
So, let’s dive in!
Are Australian Shepherds Good With Chickens?
To briefly answer that question, yes, Australian Shepherds are good with chickens, but you need to train and socialize them properly at early age.
Australian Shepherds are bred to be herding cattle with a strong prey drive for smaller animals and to help humans and large animals for their protection.
However, in particular, it is something even Aussie ancestors couldn’t ignore when it comes to birds or chickens.
They are prone to shove, or nip other animals, which is enough to hurt or even kill a chicken in one go.
Although they are likely to do the same for sheep or cattle, a little nip won’t do much damage to someone as strong as full-grown cattle.
The struggle comes when they get the same strong drive for your fragile chickens running around in the garden or poultry farm.
However, blaming them for this doesn’t sound like a wise decision either. Instead, looking for possible solutions can be the key to having harmony between them.
Here, it is recommended to carry out thorough training and familiarize your dog with the chicken to make sure he doesn’t just get along with them but herd and protect them.
How To Train A Australian Shepherd To Herd Chickens?
If you are a poultry owner and looking to get an untrained Aussie to give you a helping hand in guarding and herding your chickens, then that’s surely a recipe for a disaster.
Without training, sure, you can get them to herd the chickens, but it can be extremely stressful for chickens to avoid becoming a victim of the aussie’s sudden urges or if he’s not following the training.
Therefore, you always possess the risk of losing some chickens by having an Australian Shepherd around them at all times.
Luckily, there is a solution.
Considering the high intelligence of Australian Shepherds, they are fast to learn anything, literally anything.
This is one of the many reasons why many poultry owners prefer to invest their time and energy in training Aussies to herd chickens and ensure their complete safety.
However, it is easier said than done. You first need to start by introducing and familiarizing the dog to chickens in your presence; the earlier, the better.
This can eliminate the curiosity they have of “exploring” the new bird.
Here are some of the things you can do to train your Australian Shepherd to herd chickens effectively.
Introduction And Socialization
Before beginning the training, it is recommended to start with a puppy instead of a grown dog as they are likely to be more friendly and decrease the risk of harming your chickens.
Nothing can be left unturned if you manage to change their perspectives and see chickens as friends rather than prey.
How you do that can vary from owner to owner, or even Aussies have a different approach.
However, I recommend you to take your Australian Shepherd near the fences where you have your chickens safely locked inside.
This way, they will take the time to smell, hear and see the chickens and let their herding instincts shine through.
If you see any signs of anxiety or the dog starts acting out, take them away and repeat the process the next day until you find him comfortable with the chickens.
Let Herding Instincts Come
Now that you have managed to familiarize your dog with the chickens, what’s the next?
It’s time you look for signs and find out if your chickens are truly safe with your australian shepherd.
Dogs in herding mode have a completely different approach than when they are in prey or friendly mode.
You will get to see his head done, concentrated and tail down but away from the legs.
Their eyes are likely to be alert, flicking to calculate each move and making sure no one gets out of the circle.
The Aussie will have his ears raised high and moving around the animals to push the herd into a specific line.
However, bear in mind this doesn’t mean they are properly abiding by the training.
During this time, try giving your dog a few commands.
If he listens, you can rest assured your chickens are in good hands; however, if they don’t, wrap up the training and begin the same session the next day.
How To Train A Australian Shepherd To Protect Chickens?
Now that you are equipped with the right knowledge to make your dog herd the chickens, it’s time we consider how to train your dog to protect chickens.
As a general rule of thumb, Aussies don’t make up excellent guard dogs.
This is because they are bred to be great herders with unmatched ability to chase, bark and control other animals and make their owners happy.
Therefore, to turn them into full-fledged guard dogs, you may need to go the extra mile and ensure they are fully trained to do so.
The silver lining is, they match good watchdogs as they are visually quite sensitive.
Their attentive behavior is good enough to detect any irregular movement and warn you off at any time of the day.
Although they may not depend on your chickens to death, they can surely bark and warn everyone around regarding the intrusion.
They are highly energetic so keeping them on duty is certainly not an issue.
The best part about Aussies is the insane trustworthiness that helps you count on them whenever you need them.
With patience, here’s how you can properly train your dog to protect chickens.
If you have an Aussie puppy, this is a perfect time for you to let your dog get used to the chickens.
This time, restricting him from going near the changes will only build up curiosity and make everything worse as he grows old.
Therefore, never limit his freedom and let him explore the poultry and get to know the chicken.
If he grows up near them, it will reduce the chances of getting your chickens eaten by the herder.
However, if your Aussie is slightly older, this may not be a good idea as he can actually end up eating them as soon as you divert your attention for a split second.
Never let chicken have excess to the dog’s food or his place.
While he is starving, it can be harder to control and not eat the chicken that’s right in front of him.
And if you’re providing food for everyone altogether, this can lead to them competing for the food and cause chaos.
Remember, the further you take your dog away from the chickens, the more danger you are posing to your little chickens.
If he sleeps far away from the poultry, bring him near the chickens and let him have fun.
If this goes on for a few days and he doesn’t eat any of the chickens, give him a treat and cuddle with him to let him know he’s appreciated.
Do this every time he sleeps away from the poultry and make him part of all the farm animals you may have in your poultry.
Once you are 100% sure about your chicken’s safety, it’s time to check your dog’s protection effectiveness to see if you can count on him to keep the chickens secure.
This can be done by creating artificial threats by throwing stones or balls in the woods to see how he responds.
Try to encourage him to create a verbal warning instead of chasing the stone, as this can also be dangerous for your dog.
Other Dog Breeds Which Are Good With Chickens
This was it for your Australian Dogs.
If you haven’t adopted an Aussie yet, it’s never a bad idea to compare all the possible options and find the one that works the best for you.
Here are some of the other dog breeds that are good with chickens.
- Anatolian Shepherd
- Maremma Sheepdog
- Tibetan Mastiff
All in all, Australian Shepherds are loyal and intelligent dog breeds.
Although they do as they are trained, some of them can inevitably be dangerous to your chickens.
You can never blame the dog for his aggressive nature and strong prey drive.
Once you have adopted them, it’s your responsibility to train them and make them the best dog for herding and guardian purposes.
Create a checklist of the methods mentioned above and begin the training right away!