Training Dogs and Chickens

Molly is a Border Collie – an intense herding dog.  We rescued her from a family who bought her as a “family” dog.  They lived in a suburban neighborhood with an unfenced yard.  The family had 2 small boys.

We took Molly in when she was about 4 months old – she was driving the family crazy with the amount of energy she had and the boys were afraid of her because she was constantly nipping at their heels trying to herd them.

I was concerned our 7 acres wouldn’t be enough for her, but she’s done well and we keep her pretty busy with all the activity around this place.

Molly’s favorite animal to herd is the chicken.  The chickens are erratic in their movement and they make noise and flap wings and all of this just heightens the frenzy that Molly feeds on when herding.

She started herding right away when she came to the farm – no one had to teach her, it’s instinctive.

But we had a problem.  Molly was a little “mouthy” with the chickens when they got out and occasionally one would get hurt.  Molly never meant to hurt them, she was just doing her job.  Still, somehow I needed Molly to understand that the chickens were not play toys and she had to be gentler with them when trying to “move” them.

One day, Molly had injured a chicken and we put the chicken in Molly’s crate till her injuries were healed.

Typically, Molly was crated every night – she was still young and I didn’t want her running off.

Dave was at a meeting this particular night and wouldn’t be home till late.

Molly didn’t get crated because the injured chicken was in her crate.

I forgot to tell Dave why Molly wasn’t in her crate.

Do you see where I’m heading with this story??

Dave came home late like he’d said.

I was in bed like I’d said.

At 4 in the morning, I sat straight up in bed as the thought hit me – I didn’t tell Dave not to crate Molly when he got home.

Ugh…I knew I should go check on the situation but I really didn’t want to deal with feathers and blood and a dead chicken at 4 in the morning.

My other fear – if Molly had eaten the chicken, we’d have to get rid of her.  I’d been told, once a dog gets a taste of chicken, they will always go back for more.  We couldn’t keep a dog that was going to kill our chickens.

I prayed that I was wrong and Dave didn’t crate her, that Molly would greet me at the garage door and all would be good…

I dragged myself out of bed and stood at the kitchen door.  I didn’t see Molly.

It truly took every ounce of personal persuasion to open that door.  I was so sure the worst had happened.

I turned the light on in the garage and gingerly stepped over toward the crate, straining my ears to hear any licking sound from Molly.

Nothing – it was so quiet.

Another step and I would be in front of the crate.

I peered inside the crate…

Molly was pressed up against the front of the crate, fur sticking out through the bars.  She turned to look at me,  pleading with me to open the crate door.

I looked closer to see if I could see any feathers.

Unbelievable….

There, snuggled up close to Molly’s chest, was the chicken, sleeping quietly and contentedly, not a worry in the world!

I stood there and laughed, having a hard time believing what I was seeing!  Molly didn’t move a muscle but kept looking at me, begging me, with those big brown eyes, to please get her out of this situation.  She’d been sleeping with this chicken for several hours!

I quietly opened the door and Molly quickly came out, jumping all over me.  The chicken was a little annoyed to have lost her warm sleeping buddy.

I praised Molly over and over for being such a good girl and for keeping the chicken safe.

And you know – we never had another problem with Molly being too rough with the chickens!  Not only that,  she also trained Jack and Annie not to chase or hurt the chickens.

Now, I certainly don’t recommend this type of chicken training for dogs – but it sure worked for our Molly 🙂

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4 Responses to “Training Dogs and Chickens”

  1. Aphrael Says:

    I loved this story! It was brilliant. Way to go, Molly!

  2. Looking Out The Window Says:

    I think it is amazing how smart a dog can be. We once accidentally crated our dog with the cat who had crawled in there to take a nap. I came home from work and out walked the cat, then came the dog. Best friends forever!

  3. Lydia Rose Says:

    Glad it was a happy ending.

  4. Teri Sommer Says:

    That is so funny! We have a little French Bulldog, who I am sure would not have had so much restraint. Uggh. I’m working with her though, because we have dreams of having chickens one day!

    My sister sent me the link to your blog recently, and I’ve enjoyed looking through your entries! I live in your area and am a fellow homeschooler. I think we are planning on taking a field trip one of these days to tour your homestead. I’m really looking forward to it! Blessings!

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