When I came in from fencing this morning, I heard quite the commotion outside the window: “DAILYNONODAILYSTOPSTOPDAILYGOHOMEDAILYGOHOMERIGHTNOW!!!”
And then the kids came running into the house carrying a chicken. Our BEST chicken who is only days from hatching a clutch of purebred Ameraucana eggs, which we’ve been trying to hatch for months. The last time this happened (oh yes, this has happened before) he attacked our purebred Penedesenca hen who was also days from hatching her chicks and she left the nest, never to return. Needless to say, I was fed up.
Our dog is smart. Brilliant. By far, the best dog we’ve ever had. He listens to everything I say, is quick to respond and will turn on a dime if I tell him to come to me. I’ve never had to employ negative correction with him other than the word “no,” because, unlike any other dog I’ve ever had, he actually cares about pleasing me and heeds the tone of my voice. Unfortunately, he’s also smart enough to know when I’m not around and doesn’t care nearly as much about pleasing the kids or heeding their voices. So I decided it was time for him to learn – once and for all – that chickens are off limits.
Months ago, I’d bought an e-collar planning to use it during the correction phase of our training, but never actually put it to use. Normally, if an e-collar is used correctly, it’s used the same way as a leash for correction. The dog never yelps or feels pain, but the stimulus allows you to say “no, you need to listen to me,” from a distance, without a physical leash in hand. Normally. In this case, I decided he was going to learn his lesson quickly, efficiently, and unforgettably. Although I’m a firm believer in positive training, I’m getting tired of losing my chickens and, in one case, losing my eggs!
Daily has proven to be incredibly easy to train, so I knew it wouldn’t take much to teach him to leave the chickens alone. He won’t even go through one-strand electric wire, which he could easily slip under, because he got popped with it the first time he ever tried to enter the five-strand goat yard. So the kids and I posted up in strategic areas of the yard to watch his interactions with the chickens. Sure enough, it didn’t take long before he was after a chicken. It also didn’t take long for him to stop! By the end of our session, we had him inside the run with the chickens and he sat quietly on one side while they pecked around on the other. Success!
Thankfully, our hen is still sitting on her eggs, although we’re not sure how badly injured she is. All we can do now is pray she’ll be able to hatch her clutch for us!