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We are getting a female Springer Spaniel puppy shortly. We keep chickens and ducks, and are keen to train her to make sure she won’t chase them. They live in a huge pen at the end of the garden, but we do like to let them out when the weather is nice.

Do you have any tips on how we should go about introducing our puppy to them?

Sue Williams advises…

I too keep chickens and ducks, along with the rest of my menagerie, so this aspect of training is something I’m well experienced in.

It is fantastic that you are considering this before you get your puppy. I find that introducing a pup to chickens and other fowl correctly, and teaching them how to behave around them, is by far the easiest approach, rather than what all too often happens, where people don’t think about it until a problem arises.

It is important to bear in mind that all dogs have an innate prey instinct, which is stronger in some breeds (and some individuals) than others. It is therefore important not to allow your puppy to be around the flock and just hope for the best.

I like to work on teaching my pups to simply ignore the chickens and ducks, no matter what they are doing. To do this, I first work with the puppy on a long line, so that I can keep control and prevent any mistakes. I use a combination of treats and toys to reward the puppy for ignoring the birds.

To further embed the training, I play games that keep the puppy focused on the task, rather than the birds.

The most important things to ensure are:

  • Never leave your new puppy unattended with the chickens.
  • Don’t allow her to stare at the birds in their pen, as this will cause her to become frustrated and increase her chase drive.
  • Be patient and consistent.

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