So you have a Golden Retriever and are thinking about getting chickens or maybe you already have chickens and are wanting to bring a Golden Retriever home, you’ll need to know if the two will mix. Are golden retrievers good with chickens?
Most golden retrievers are not good with chickens initially. They’re curious, and naturally want to chase after any chickens they see. The good news is that Golden Retrievers are easily trainable and will quickly learn to leave the chickens alone. So yes, with a little training golden retrievers can be good with chickens.
In this article, I’ll examine how golden retrievers typically do with chickens and some ways to prevent issues between your chickens and your pup.
How Do Golden Retrievers Do With Chickens?
Golden retrievers are a high energy dog bred to chase and retrieve game and fowl during a hunt. This means that their natural instinct is to take off and catch any chickens they see. Without the proper training, your golden retriever will most likely take off running and perhaps hurt the chickens.
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With the natural instincts to chase after chickens and other birds, plus all that pent-up energy, a golden retriever owner will have to be careful about the initial introduction between these two animals. Your dog will want to run after the chickens and chase them down, no matter how they react to other animals in other settings. It’s instinct!
Of course, many families live on a farm or acreage who own a golden retriever and chickens, and they have no problems with the two animals getting along. Sometimes, the dog’s temperament will make a difference, and sometimes it depends on the kind of training they were provided.
For example, if the owners exposed the dog to chickens early and often, it’s more likely the golden retriever will stay calm instead of bouncing off to cause mischief. Proper training will help your dog learn the behavior you expect any time they’re near the chickens.
Just to set your mind at ease, my wife, son and I lived on several acreas for years and we had chickens (including baby chicks) and goats. We also had a golden retriever. Our golden, named Sunny, quickly learned that the chickens and other animals were off limits to her. No major problems.
Do Golden Retrievers Kill Chickens?
While as I’ve previously mentioned, a Golden Retrievers natural instinct is to chase chickens, there can be times where a golden retriever goes so far as to kill a chicken.
This really comes down to the individual golden. In the vast majority of situations this is not a problem you are likely to deal with. However, it’s something to be aware of, particularly when first introducing a golden retriever to a chicken.
If a golden retriever gets out of hand the first few times of meeting the chickens and kills one or more, it becomes much more likely that it will become a regular problem.
It’s also true that no matter how much training and care you take in introducing your dog to the chickens, there is an occasional golden that just refuses to get with the program. In this extreme case, you’ll ultimately have to decide between the dog and the chickens.
How to Prevent Problems Between Your Dog and the Chickens
If your golden does cause problems with the chickens, the good news is that there are usually ways to change this behavior to help your dog and hens get along.
While it’s part of your dog’s nature to go after chickens and chase them down, there are ways to help calm this natural instinct and have your dog and chickens in the same place without incident. Some of these include:
Expose Your Dog to the Chickens Often
Whether they’re a golden retriever or not, most dogs like to chase after any critters that run. This is prime time fun for a golden! If your dog is rarely around chickens, then they’ll be inclined to chase them and just to see what happens.
The sooner your dog gets exposed to the chickens, and the more often, the faster the novelty will wear off, and your dog will leave the chickens alone.
Frequent exposure to the chickens and some good training methods will help your dog learn how to accept the chickens and leave them alone. If the chickens are already present and live in a fenced in area, this should be simple. Walking them near the fence, on a leash, where the chickens are a few times a day is a good place to start.
Run Out Their Energy
Sometimes the best thing to do is run out all that extra energy. Don’t introduce your dog to the chickens until you’ve exhausted a lot of their energy. If your golden is already worn out he won’t have much energy left to chase the chickens.
This is also a good thing to keep in mind on an ongoing basis if you want to avoid clashes between the chickens and a retriever.
When your dog hasn’t been out to play much, they are more likely to go after the chickens. When you keep them active and take them on regular walks, they use up some of that energy and won’t have enough left to chase after, and potential harm, your chickens.
If you plan to have your dog around chickens often, make sure that they get regular exercise. Walks and time to play are perfect for getting out that pent-up energy. Any way that you can safely wear out your dog and keep them active will help to ensure they leave your chickens alone.
Train Them Well
If you know your golden retriever will often be around chickens when you first bring them home, then it’s time to train them well. The more training you can do with your dog, the easier it is for them to feel comfortable around the chickens. Basic training for commands like sit, stay, and rollover, is what you need to instill in you golden.
When adding chickens, cats or other critters to a household with a golden retriever, it’s important that your golden is trained up enough that they know to listen to you above all else.
Remember that it’s an instinct for your dog to want to chase the chickens and bother them. So this type of training may be more difficult at first than some basic commands. But it’s still possible.
The Clicker Method
The clicker method is a great option to use. It helps teach your dog the right behaviors you want from them, without any harm or punishment. It relies on a clicker and some positive reinforcement training to make things work.
The clicker is simply a small noisemaker to get your dogs’ attention. It can be a simple tool, like the EcoCity 2-Pack Dog Training Clicker (amazon), that will make a sound loud enough to get your dog to listen, but won’t harm them.
Using it will help your dog learn what behaviors you want to reward. Pairing the clicker with a treat enables you to mark the moment the dog did what you wanted, without them having to guess.
Lots of Praise and Treats
Your dog needs to know that they’re doing well and that you’re proud of them each step of the way. While using the clicker method, you can provide lots of positive reinforcement in the form of praise, petting, and treats.
Using something like Pedigree DENTASTIX Treats (amazon) are a perfect way to help train your dog. They also have the added benefit of cleaning their teeth and freshening their doggy breath!
Discover how to train your Golden Retriever by playing games: 21 games to play with your Golden that will make them smarter and better behaved!
Is a Golden Retriever Right for Me?
If you don’t have a golden and you’re thinking about adding a Golden Retriever to your home, here are a few things about the breed to help you make a decision.
A golden retriever will have a lot of energy and need regular attention. For a family with lots of activity, this is a perfect dog to choose. If you’re looking to see if this dog is the right one for you, consider these things about the golden retriever:
- They are athletic and large, and will need a lot of exercise.
- They have a nice feathered coat and as a result they do shed regularly.
- They have a cheerful nature, and they seem happy and willing to wag their tails all the time.
- They are always happy to see you!
- They’re pretty easy going, and make for a dependable friend.
- They are eager to please, and if you’re good at training them, they will respond to it well.
- They are often peaceful with other animals.
If you’re not ready to provide this dog with a lot of love and attention, and a good amount of exercise each day, a golden may not be a good choice for you. They like to move and be outside, and when young, seem to have an endless amount of energy.
There are many things to love about owning a golden retriever! If you want your golden retriever to coexist peacefully with chickens, it’s a good idea to train them and get them used to chickens as early as possible.
Many golden retrievers can do well with chickens and other animals; you just need to be willing to teach them the right behavior.
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