I have a weird story to tell. A few months ago, I found my German Shepherds going wild over a hen that somehow made it into our property. Luckily though, it found itself on top of an elevated spot that the dogs couldn’t reach.
I could only imagine what would have happened if the hen didn’t get up there. After all, my dogs love eating chicken.
Anyway, I’ve had a few questions since that day. How exactly did that hen get into our property? And second, would that hen be alive today if my German Shepherds got to it? But most importantly, are German Shepherds good with chickens?
Here’s what I found.
Are German Shepherds Good With Chickens?
German Shepherds can be good with chickens if and only if they are appropriately trained and socialized. Without both, a German Shepherd will not be able to resist the urge to capture and even kill chickens.
So, if you intend to have a German Shepherds and chickens live alongside each other, you would have to teach your dog to resist the temptation of capturing and chomping on chickens.
Socialization is the process of introducing your German Shepherd to different sights, smells, and sounds. It helps your dog develop a better understanding of its environment and the interactions that occur around it.
This is an essential process to prevent your German Shepherd from developing anxiety, fear, and aggression when interacting with different people, pets, and animals like chickens.
Training your German Shepherd will allow you to have better control over its actions. Through it, you’ll be able to teach your dog commands that counter its tendency to chase and attack chickens.
How To Train A German Shepherd Not To Attack Chickens
To build a harmonious relationship between your German Shepherd and your chickens, you would have to introduce them to each other to develop familiarity.
To start, bring your leashed German Shepherd close to your chickens, and then command it to behave. At this point, your job is to facilitate and make sure that your dog doesn’t start attacking.
This would be difficult, as your German Shepherd will most probably have the urge to lunge in and bite. But such is why it’s recommended that you have your German Shepherd trained beforehand. During the process, you must have full control of your German Shepherd, and it should be able to follow your commands.
In the case that your German Shepherd does attack, command it to stop, and immediately correct the behavior. Remember to use positive reinforcement and praise your dog in the instance that it displays no aggression towards the chickens.
Repeat this process until your dog grows comfortable and displays no more aggression towards your chickens.
Now that you understand the process let’s now look into how some German Shepherd owners successfully managed to have their dog and chickens coexist.
Here’s an excerpt from WIBackpacker’s post on the German Shepherd forums:
“Put your dog on a leash (with whatever type of collar you train with), and make him behave outside the coop and feed him his breakfast piece by piece as he pays attention to you. Then, if this goes well, start bringing your dog inside the coop and do the same thing.”
WIBackpacker’s method includes feeding as reinforcement. But the basic principle stays the same. Expose your German Shepherd to your chickens and facilitate.
As another example, here’s a video from The Dawghouse:
In the video, Grim, a five-month-old German Shepherd, did not show any signs of aggression or urge to attack the chickens. And that’s because Grim had prior exposure and was allowed to observe the chickens from outside the coop. So again, it all comes down to exposing your dog to the chickens to develop familiarity.
Looking back, I’d say that chicken was extremely lucky. If it didn’t find a way to avoid my dogs, I probably would have had a new feather duster (just kidding).
Anyway, to summarize. It’s definitely possible for German Shepherds and chickens to live together harmoniously. To achieve that, however, you would have to put in the effort to train and socialize your German Shepherd and then facilitate the development of the relationship between both animals through repeated exposure.
Realistically, it might take a while, but with how smart and adaptable German Shepherds are, you will eventually have no problems with your German Shepherd and your chickens living together.