Backyard chicken farmer with a Collie? Read this article to learn how to train a Border Collie to herd chickens.
If you are a hobby farmer, backyard chicken herding can be a relief for two reasons:
- Your chickens can roam freely in the yard without the hassle of predators
- Herding is a stimulating exercise for your Border Collie
Your Collie has natural herding instincts. However, to successfully herd chickens, he needs to be trained to be gentle around them. Apart from this, you should train him how to herd the fowls back into their coop.
Best Dogs for Chicken Herding
Border Collies are great herding dogs thanks to their high intelligence and natural instincts. The Collie can help also you with a number of household and farming tasks. Apart from Collies, other excellent chicken-herding dogs are:
- Welsh corgi
- Great Pyrenees
- Shetland sheepdog
- Australian shepherd
While other dogs can also be trained to herd chickens, the above breeds naturally enjoy the task, which makes them easy to teach.
How to Train a Border Collie to Herd Chickens
Teach your dog new skills
One of the key commands your Collie should learn to be a master herder is Leave It. The dog should know all the basics such as Stay, Sit, Lie Down, Heel, and Come. However, knowing the Leave It command is important for him to remain well-behaved around your fowls. If your dog has not mastered the Leave it command, teaching him how to herd chickens can be quite a stretch.
When your Collie has mastered the basic instructions, start teaching the more complex ones. Your aim of teaching should be to make him understand the basic directions as you slowly train him for more complex commands, including herding-specific ones.
Gauge your Border Collie’s behavior
Most Border Collies display natural herding instincts from early on. You can easily spot these signs by watching how they interact with you and other animals.
For example, if your Collie usually circles around you in an attempt to influence you to move to a specific direction, this is a good sign. The dog will easily learn how to herd chickens. Sometimes, the Collie will learn how to herd simply by watching how you interact with the birds.
Play some catch
Playing catch is an excellent form of exercise. Apart from this, it teaches the Collie basic obedience skills, which help in the development of his chasing skills. You can make catch more applicable to chicken herding by teaching your Collie to catch only on command. This is important as it can prevent the unintentional thinning of your flock.
Introducing Your Dog to the Chickens
The introduction process should be done slowly to avoid your Collie from being aggressive. You should only introduce the chickens when your dog is calm. If he seems agitated, stop the process.
Repeat the process for a few days. With every passing day, let the dog stay around the chicken longer than before. This will lessen the chances of him getting overexcited around the chickens in future.
Protect the Chickens
After introducing your dog to the chickens and starting to train him to herd, watch how he behaves. The dog’s body language will tell you whether he is capable of the task at hand.
How will you know the dog is ready to herd the backyard chickens?
Well, for one, he will approach them with his tail down. After this, he will run in circles around them.
You can be confident of your dog if he does this and is still capable of following your commands. If not, he may need more training.
If the Border Collie does not want to herd the chickens, he will not respond to any chicken-related commands you introduce him to.
Chicken-Herding Training Requires Patience
You have to be committed and be patient to successfully train your Border Collie to herd chickens. Once he has gotten the commands, he will be a helpful resource in your backyard farm. Your Border Collie can help you raise your chickens when you hone his herding skills.