Tater
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Teaching a puppy

I have recently gotten a 9 month Springer Spaniel. Today she killed one of our chickens athough I am not raising her to hunt she has a huge bird instinct. I found her with the bird so I picked the bird up a gave a FIRM no several times with the bird on her nose. Walked her to the truck placing the bird on the ground in front of her and repeating no. She seemed to get the point. Instead of letting her run as she normally does at the farm I tied her with the bird just outside of her reach(not sure if this ways best) would return every few minutes pick up the bird and repeat a strong no. She know I'm upset

My questions- What should I have done? and when it happens again what should I do?
Thnanks Tate

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Kisal
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I once had a puppy -- a very valuable show dog -- that had a compulsion to chew electric cords. Short of unplugging every item I owned that ran on electricity, or sitting around waiting for the dog to electrocute herself, I asked my vet. He told me to offer her an electric cord, and if she took it in her mouth, to lightly touch her tongue with a q-tip that had been dipped in rubbing alcohol. Three times and she never touched another electric cord.

However, the hunting instinct has been intentionally bred into your dog. That's is a lot more powerful a drive than my dog just wanting to entertain herself by chewing on electric cords. I don't know whether the technique would work in your situation or not.
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pepper4
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Kisal, just out of curiousity what kind of dog did you have. I have a Beagle and she has this need to do that also. We try to hide plugs or unplug things as much as possible. She did once manage to get ahold of a cord and got shocked pretty good. Did it stop her? No! I might have to check into your method. Can't hurt. Tater, you might have alittle problem with your dog because like Kisal said they are bred to hunt birds. I have heard if they do it once and enjoy doing what they instinctly do most likely she will do it again. Good-luck!
Bambi

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Kisal
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The puppy was a Komondor, one of my favorite breeds. :)
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cynthia_h
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I'm sorry about your chicken. Is it possible for you to make a portable wood and chicken-wire structure you can move about the yard so the chickens can scratch freely, and *also* restrain the puppy inside another fence so that she can exercise freely?

Springer Spaniels are among the sporting breeds in the United States (AKC system of breed grouping); they're a gun dog in the UK system.

Spaniels are among the oldest recognizable groups of dogs, along with hounds, pointers, mastiffs, and what are euphemistically called "Northern"/spitz dogs. The number of kinds of spaniels, as well as their appearance in old paintings and descriptions in literature, attests to their antiquity. The "springer" in their name refers to their ability to "spring" hidden game, esp. birds but also rabbits, from the brush.

I have a basic dog breed ID book next to me at the moment. Just leafing through the "gun dog" group shows how long Spaniels have been recognized as hunters and different varieties been developed for different regions:

Clumber Spaniel--Origins, 1800s
Cocker Spaniel (English)--[same]
English Springer Spaniel--[same]
Field Spaniel--[same]
Welsh Springer Spaniel--Origins, 1500s
Sussex Spaniel--Origins, 1700s
German Spaniel--Origins, 1900s
Irish Water Spaniel--Origins, 1800s
Epagneul Francais--Origins, 1600s
Epagneul Picard--Origins, 1700s
Brittany Spaniel--[same]
Epagneul Pont-Audemer--Origins, 1600s

and this isn't all of them. I left out two from this particular book, which itself doesn't claim to be complete.

Please consult experienced local dog people (a veterinarian, a Spaniel club, a dog trainer, an experienced groomer, an experienced pet sitter) who can see your physical set-up for the best ways to protect both the chickens and the puppy, soon to be dog.

Trying to train a Welsh or English Springer Spaniel NOT to go for game when five hundred or more years of breeding and training have it primed to do just that is very unfair to both the dog and the chickens. This time, the puppy was unhurt but the chicken died; next time, what if the chicken scratches the puppy's nose/eyes in the struggle? :(

Best wishes; hope it all works out.

Cynthia

Tater
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Thanks.Watching her "spring" thru our hayfields popping up from time to time is beautiful to watch.
All our younger birds are raised in "low tunnels" then move to a free range area. The low tunnels are pvc and chicken wire with tarp over to protect from weather. In retrospect she may have found the bird dead already and have been playing with it. Regardless she knows something has been wrong since then.
We are working on "come" with a 30' leash. Your idea will work well with what we are doing. tate

Turk
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On youtube there is a channel by a wonderful trainer named ZaK George. go to [url]https://www.youtube.com/user/zakgeorge21[/url] and browse his huge collection of dog training videos. There are a bunch on all sorts of different things and if you can get his basic philosophy of how to train dogs, everything becomes much easier.

Good luck.
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I know it's cliché by now, but Cesar Millan's much hated by other professionals approach is doing wonders for us. I have put out of my mind ideas like "he knows what he did", because if I change my posture and start breathing again, the dog's behavior changes instantly. when I correctin anger they ignore me or run away. If I calm down and just assert myself, they take heed.

I have a rescued off the street lab/pit mix, and a jack russel my wife raised as a little person. it's not an easy mix.

In your case he would probably say the dog needs an outlet for breed instincts along with lots of exercise and discipline, with love last but not least on the list.

it's not training, so you'll still want to learn from a trainer. in his books he admits that when it comes to tricks or staying away from snakes, he hires a trainer or three. He's got 40 dogs though. It's just a different way to relate to the animal, with the animal's interests in mind.
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nes
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Muzzle?

If you had a terrier I'd just tell you to give up but a spaniel it depends on her parents. Growing up with the birds is going to help, I think you did the right thing in the moment.

Redirect her behaviour to something positive, re-enforce the chicken fence, and if need be get her a cage-muzzle so she'll be able to chase but not actually kill any of the birds.

We have a squirrel killing golden retriever (a breed that is bred NOT to bite down) short of physical restraint there is no way to keep her from going after them.
Vanessa raising organic vegetables, livestock, wildflowers, and family in zone 5A.

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If you can show a golden to kill, can't you show a spaniel not to? As for soft mouth, it's not a breed trait. My pit does it. My golden did not. The pit does it so he can play frisbee. All goldens have the same basic instinct: kill the bird. Retrieving, holding, crouching, waiting quietly - those are redirected stalking and killing instinct.

My little terrier is the killer. Not because of his breed (same basic kill instinct as a golden, but with the energy level of only the top specimens), but because his owners don't give him enough gentle discipline and exercise followed by mental challenges like agility. We don't have time or energy. And he pays the price. We turned around on the discipline (ever see a Jack Russel walk behind the owner? Or ignore a lunging terrier across the street?)

Check out the story of Gracie. The author of Marley and Me got Gracie after losing Marley. Also a chicken killer. They got help and found it was them, not the dog. It no longer kills chickens.

Your dog is still a puppy. If you start now you can have the perfect dog. I envy you! My next chance will only come when we lose one.
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nes
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Golden Retrievers do have a soft mouth by breed trait. They are BRED to retrieve birds that hunters shoot and not bit down & ruin the meat.

This is also why the are generally considered good dogs for families with young children, because theoretically they are bred not to bite & would never bite the kids. That's a silly thing to believe (/reason to get a golden) but I have found it to be true.

With my family's golden, it's been determined she actually kills the squirrels by shaking them, not biting down. I'm not sure if that has continued to be true as there is a good story about her catching a SKUNK last summer out walking with my brother & their other dog. All of whom came home just STINKING ;).
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The shaking is typical. You should see my pit do it. A real full pit almost killed him by grabbing his butt and shaking, just like your golden. Many stitches, a drain, and twice daily washing for 3 weeks. A couple milimetefs from the anal wall. Their wolf ancestors will kill a fox or rabbit or deer with the same motion. I would never call that soft mouth. It's a bite, and it is meant to kill. Look at cats - completely different.

When a dog bites down and lets go, it isn't trying to kill. It is using touch to communicate. In a real fight (not a dominance display) they bite and shake. The shake does the damage.

All breeds, from chihuahua to ridgeback, know how to kill. And they all use the same technique. Tug of war - noticed the shake? That's play - practice for real killing. They are social predators, each and every one. Have you seen the shots from Katrina? Dogs of diverse breeds organized into packs. One was a bunch of big bruisers - led by a beagle. They are dogs first, not breeds. And all dogs are 100% dog.

The way my grandpa taught his prizewinning lab to soft mouth was with a dummy that bit back. Soft mouth is both natural and unnatural to all dogs; they all can do it, and will even display th behavior occasionally (mother grabbing a pup for instance). My golden once brought a wounded pigeon home and we actually rescued it. But doing it consistently has to be taught. The baby rabbits did not do so well, and onc the bird was lively he wanted to kill it. Thinking back, we were on bicycles that day, and he was exhausted. Suddenly he was focused enough to do that. On a normal day, he just wanted to kill. Does that make sense?

My pit retrieves like a champ. I can throw, have him hold, walk away, have him come to me, then release him, all with signals. He is just really keen. Do retriever breeds do it better than him? Absolutely not. My golden never brought it back. If I wanted to hunt, would I use my pit? Never. He does not have the focus, patience, and stamina to do the job. Then again, you can say that of most labs, goldens, Chesapeakes, etc...

I'm not discounting breed traits. But you can't breed a hunting dog reliably. Out of a litter, even with champion parents, you don't get a bunch of champions. Most goldens today would not cut it. They are bred for temperament and looks, not working.


In my experience, goldens are more likely to bite a human than pit bulls. Ok, pits are bred not to be human aggressive (especially fighting lines). But I do remember reading somewhere that goldens are one of the most statistically likely to bite. Our golden was not a happy go lucky dog. Labs are a better choice around small children IMO. That's a breed trait, not a law. So our golden was quite dominant and defensive, while his littermate was like a lab.

I agree, the spaniel wants to hunt birds. You will never change that. But just like you can teach them not to pee on your rug and chew your shoes, you can teach it not to kill YOUR chickens. It's about ownership, not eliminating breed traits or dog instinct. My dogs will nit touch a hamburger on the coffee table, even if we leave. But in the car, I have no control. They will make a mess if I leave dirty napkins in a bag. So obviously it's me, not the dogs. I'm working on it.
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jal_ut
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I have had many breeds of dogs over my years, including several breeds bred for hunting. They can all be trained to leave domestic livestock alone. Yes, this includes chickens and even the cats that belong on the farm. I had hounds that were bred and trained to hunt wildcats, and they would hunt feral house cats, but they never bothered the cats that belonged on the farm. Yes, they knew the difference. Same with my bird dogs, they would hunt wild birds but leave the farm chickens and ducks alone. Its training.
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Hey well said!

Can you elaborate what you did or how YOU were trained?
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applestar
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how YOU were trained?
:lol: Not everyone is going to "get" that Caesar Millan reference...
From the title clips for Caesar Millan: The Dog Whisperer series: "I rehabilitate dogs. I TRAIN people." :wink:

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Good point apple.

But at the same time, trainers all got training somewhere, either themselves or others. While it has worked wonders for my life with and away from my dogs, no one approach is best for all.

I do see a lot of fatalism in this thread. In one post I say my terrier is the "real killer". But now I know it's not him, it's me sending signals. Turns out he is more focused than the lab/pit, who still likes to challenge me.

If you start by telling yourself a story about what the dig will do, it will certainly come to pass.
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