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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
There is some possibility that we will be getting a Spoo puppy in the not-too-far-off future (!), and naturally I have a lot of questions and concerns. We have backyard chickens (along with a few coturnix quail), and our backyard is relatively small. I know that before puppies have had all their necessary vaccinations, they should not be allowed to go on walks or come into contact with random dogs, &c. Our five chickens spend most of the day in their run, which is actually a walk-in dog kennel like this one, but they do walk all over the yard. Would it be unsafe for a young puppy (8 weeks) to be exposed to the chickens or even the yard in general? If so, how should I deal with this? And if there is a risk factor, when and how should I begin introducing a puppy to the chickens in a way that would promote the ability for them to (hopefully) eventually be fine with each other? Let me know if you need more information about my set-up to answer my questions!
 

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I’m not sure about the health safety part of your question. Regardless of any advice you get here, I think that’s definitely something you should discuss with your vet. Your breeder might be a helpful resource, too.

Peggy has a high prey drive and would be unsuitable around chickens. I’ve spoken to other poodle owners who feel the same way about their dogs, and have heard some very sad stories about poodles attacking chickens. I’m assuming you’ve already discussed this with your breeder, but if not, be sure to let them know you need a puppy with the right temperament for your lifestyle. Peggy darted after every little thing that moved from day 1. I love that about her. But she’d be a liability on your property.

I seem to recall someone here worked very hard to proof their poodle around chickens... Maybe @lily cd re? She’s a certified trainer. Not sure if she’s offering her services remotely (or where you live), but I’d personally seek professional help to set my puppy up for success with the chickens from day 1, for their safety.
 

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Poppy cannot resist chickens - they flap, they run, they squawk, and they turn on every chase, grab and bite neuron she has. As a pup she had the most exciting hour of her life when some strayed into my sister's garden unbeknownst to me and she has been primed to chase ever since. I am sure you could teach your puppy to ignore the chickens - as PtP says Lilly cd re has done so - but I would take great care with the early introductions especially, keeping the puppy on a leash and the birds safely in their pen.
 

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I have had both chickens and dogs for many years. Lily and Peeves were adults when the first chickens arrived. We took care to introduce them to each other while the chicks were tiny and then did additional training once the pullets went outside. Peeves was inclined to try to herd them, but chickens don't herd well. Under pressure the chickens behave exactly as fjm described. Until Peeves was about nine or ten we really tried to avoid having him loose with loose chickens. Later his age and a bit of arthritis toned things down considerably. Lily has always been very relaxed with the birds and I have often left her outside while the birds were loose to dissuade potential predators. That is under reconsideration as a strategy right now though since I saw a juvenile bald eagle over my property last week. I am restricting chicken ranging to very late in the day. I don't really need the eagle in the yard. Javelin was a puppy with already existing chickens. He does have strong interest in them so generally he is not allowed loose in the yard unsupervised with loose chickens even though I can and have called him away from them (he does have a wowzer recall).

Overall yes to puppy/dog on leash and chickens in their enclosed run until you have really acclimated them to each other.
 

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I raised my mini as a puppy with a semi-free roaming rabbit. They got along relatively well, though the puppy very much wanted to play with the rabbit. The rabbit was very tolerant. Their adult relationship is one of mostly getting along, though a bored dog can result in an annoyed rabbit. Whenever Misha has encountered wild rabbits, he has very excitedly chased them. But I do not think he would attempt to hurt one if he caught it. He has never tried to harm even the lizards he occasionally catches. He is not "birdy" the way his pointer and Brittany friends are. He has been at my mother's with caged birds and shown them no interest. But he does enjoy a good chase if something will run from him.

I would suggest having a two-fold plan. You may be able to have a happy poodle-chicken relationship with desensitization and training. But this could fail. A backup plan like building the chickens a fenced-in roaming area could be a good way to keep them separate. Misha's breeder keeps chickens and I think some of her dogs chase them and others don't. I am sure Misha would, but he might get accustomed to them over time (especially after receiving a good peck).

You may find a breeder that keeps chickens and can tell you about their dogs' reactions to them. That would be the best way of predicting how it will go.

I can't remember for sure but @dogsavvy may also keep chickens.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you all for your input! Any specific advice on how to introduce/desensitize a young puppy to chickens (and rabbits, which we also have)? Keeping the puppy on the opposite side of the yard and redirecting attention, having one person hold a chicken and another person hold the puppy on a leash...?
 

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Are you getting hatchling chicks? If yes then have a helper hold your puppy on leash while you pick up the chicks one at a time and show them to the dog. Make sure the puppy meets each chicken. I would also make sure your puppy learns an excellent "leave it" order.
 

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Thank you all for your input! Any specific advice on how to introduce/desensitize a young puppy to chickens (and rabbits, which we also have)? Keeping the puppy on the opposite side of the yard and redirecting attention, having one person hold a chicken and another person hold the puppy on a leash...?
With mine I allowed direct interaction (dragging a lead) with removal upon any mouthy behavior. The rabbit was pretty good about retreating when needed and growling/boxing at the puppy to indicate his displeasure. But he has been around dogs many times and was not fearful at all. The puppy was very good at understanding to respect the rabbit's space and did not intrude on areas the rabbit would be territorial about. He would have learned faster if the rabbit was willing to nip him more, but the rabbit was just too tolerant and only rarely gave him a slight nip. Somehow even super-mouthy needle-toothed Misha never bit our rabbit's ears despite his desire to play with them. We were always very on top of correcting when he went for them. I think it would have been hard with a shy rabbit. And maybe harder with a spoo puppy rather than a miniature.
 

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You may find a breeder that keeps chickens and can tell you about their dogs' reactions to them. That would be the best way of predicting how it will go.
I introduced a fluffy wind-up chicken to my last three dogs: Gracie the minipoo mix nosed it with interest, but that was about it. Same with Charlie the GSD mix. Meanwhile, Peggy the spoo wanted! to! kill! With intent!

I imagine a similar exercise could be included in any temperament testing a breeder does. I know it’s not the same as exposure to a real chicken, but the different reactions I witnessed were rather astonishing to me, and absolutely revealed varying prey drives. Peggy’s exceptionally attracted to motion in general. It’s awesome for training, but eek.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Are you getting hatchling chicks? If yes then have a helper hold your puppy on leash while you pick up the chicks one at a time and show them to the dog. Make sure the puppy meets each chicken. I would also make sure your puppy learns an excellent "leave it" order.
No, we have five almost 2-year-old hens. They don't mind squirrels and rabbits but are kind of reactive to cats and were very reactive to our relatives' small dog the few times he got near the chicken run (we never did any training with him though, and he has a high prey drive). At what age do you think it would be best to introduce the puppy to the hens? I'm not sure how long it would be feasible to keep the puppy out of the backyard completely.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I think it would have been hard with a shy rabbit. And maybe harder with a spoo puppy rather than a miniature.
Yes, unfortunately both of our rabbits are shy and fearful, though in different ways. One will freeze and stay relatively still, while the other is jumpy and will do all he can to get away immediately. They live in the garage rather than the house though, so it isn't nearly as much of a problem as the chickens would be.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
I introduced a fluffy wind-up chicken to my last three dogs: Gracie the minipoo mix nosed it with interest, but that was about it. Same with Charlie the GSD mix. Meanwhile, Peggy the spoo wanted! to! kill! With intent!

I imagine a similar exercise could be included in any temperament testing a breeder does. I know it’s not the same as exposure to a real chicken, but the different reactions I witnessed were rather astonishing to me, and absolutely revealed varying prey drives. Peggy’s exceptionally attracted to motion in general. It’s awesome for training, but eek.
That's a good idea, using a toy chicken to test prey drive. I am hoping whatever spoo we get doesn't have too intense of a prey drive, though I know it is a breed characteristic. I am not exactly sure how puppy selection works with the breeder we made a deposit to, as I am not the one in the family interacting with the breeder. I will try to find out more and ask about their temperament testing.
 

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I would start introductions immediately - hens safely contained, puppy on a lead and not to close to the hens run. My aim would be to establish them as something boring - perambulating plants rather than possible playmates or prey. And I would plan on having chickens contained and/or puppy leashed for at least a year - things may go smoothly, but birds that can't fly properly are at great risk and a great temptation, and hens can die of shock even if not badly damaged by a bite.
 

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orloffer yes fjm is correct. Start the introductions right away. Put your pup on a leash and have the pup just far enough away such that the chickens aren't freaking out. Let the puppy watch them and reward for check ins by the puppy. Gradually move closer until the chickens don't care much about the puppy and the puppy can show decent impulse control around the chickens. One other thing I think of is to try to not let the puppy eat chicken droppings. Dogs love to eat them (Lily...) and chickens almost always have coccidia. Javelin tested positive for coccidia when he was quite young but was asymptomatic and as soon as I reminded the vet that we had chickens he decided to just monitor rather than treat.
 
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
A couple of unrelated questions:
-I am aware that a lot of people don't let their young puppy walk around outside their property for fear of them contracting parvo. If this is so, how would I let a puppy relieve itself when we stop during the ride home?
-Along those lines, when is it safe to take a puppy to the groomer?
 

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A couple of unrelated questions:
-I am aware that a lot of people don't let their young puppy walk around outside their property for fear of them contracting parvo. If this is so, how would I let a puppy relieve itself when we stop during the ride home?
-Along those lines, when is it safe to take a puppy to the groomer?
I have heard of people putting a tarp down or a puppy pad so the puppy doesn't touch the floor.

I think after all of their vaccines they are good to go
 
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