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Four tips for introducing chickens to dogs and other pets

Your pets are part of the family, so introducing chickens to dogs and other animals can feel daunting at first.

However, if done carefully, over time and under supervision, there’s absolutely no reason why hens can’t live in harmony with other animals.

Hens and other pets

In fact, we’ve known hens to live alongside dogs, cats and even llamas, which can act as a great fox deterrent by the way!

As a side note, if you’re reading this and have a hen who’s made friends with any other unusual species, we’d love to hear about them.

If not, you’ll find below our tried and tested tips and tricks to make bringing your new hens home a breeze.

Know your own pet

We all know different dog breeds have different characteristics, and that some may have a higher prey drive than others.

However, only you truly know your own dog (the same applies to all pets) so if you are happy they will go about their business without paying too much attention to their new housemates, great!

On the flip side, if you have a dog who tends to show aggression easily and/or chases cats, birds or other animals while out on walks and suchlike, then we would not advise adopting hens under those circumstances.

Ultimately, it is down to you to know your own pets and judge whether adding chickens into the mix is likely to be a success.

chickens and horses

Create separate spaces for your chickens and other pets

We always advise keeping your hens in a fully enclosed run unless you are supervising them, especially when making initial introductions to other animals. 

While taking the above advice on board, no-one can 100% predict what a dog or cat’s reaction may be when faced with three or more feathery bundles, so best to play it safe. 

If you have a dog, keep them on a lead to begin with until you are sure they aren’t likely to lunge at the run, and keep an eye on their body language.  

Look out for warning signs such as growling or barking, and take your dog inside should this happen. 

Of course, cats are a little less controllable! In this case, we would simply advise being on hand to watch the initial meeting from either side of the fence. 

above advice on board, no-one can 100% predict what a dog or cat’s reaction may be when faced with three or more feathery bundles, so best to play it safe.

If you have a dog, keep them on a lead to begin with until you are sure they aren’t likely to lunge at the run, and keep an eye on their body language.

Look out for warning signs such as growling or barking, and take your dog inside should this happen.

Of course, cats are a little less controllable! In this case, we would simply advise being on hand to watch the initial meeting from either side of the fence.

Take it slow

Remember, these things take time, so if your pet is behaving in a strange way to begin with, take them inside and try another short introduction the next day.

Equally, this is all new to your hens – they’ve never seen anything other than a chicken or a human!

Don’t be surprised if there is some initial squawking and flapping. They need time to settle into their new home just as your other pets need time to adjust to having hens in the garden.

We’d recommend allowing at least a week before introducing your hens and other pets together and, even then, this should be under supervision for a little while longer.

Always supervise when introducing chickens to dogs and other pets

Which brings us nicely to our next tip – any interactions between your hens and other pets should be fully supervised for at least two weeks.

This may sound excessive, but the hens we rehome have spent 18 months in a commercial system and the outside world is all completely new to them, so they need a little adjustment time before being let loose with other animals.

Similarly, if this is your pets’ first time meeting chickens, they need to get used to them and their behaviour.

It’s worth noting at this point, that flocks of hens have a pecking order, and they will try to put any other animals they have regular contact with in that pecking order.

While many people worry their cat or dog may chase or upset their new hens, it’s often the other way around!

Don’t be surprised if your pet feels the sharp end of your hen’s beak as they establish who’s boss. It really is true that hens rule the roost.

If your hen is getting a little too feisty, try filling a spray bottle with water and squirting it at the ground near (but not at) your hen whenever they go to peck.

This should provide enough distraction for them to re-focus on something else, especially if you have some tasty treats on hand.

More advice on introducing chickens to dogs and other animals

Hopefully, by now, you’ll realise there’s no reason your pets can’t get along swimmingly with your pet hens, should you decide to adopt some.

Our friendly Rehoming Team are always on hand if you have any further questions, so please do contact them on 01884 860084.

If you are adding to your flock and need a little guidance, please check out our page on merging chicken flocks.

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