How to Use Wired Fence or E-Collar to Protect Your Flock from Your Dogs
When we think about flock protection we often neglect to consider homegrown risks like our own dogs. If your dog is not a breed specifically bred to guard your flock you can safely assume that their instinct will be that of a predator. Domestic dogs, including those belonging to you as well as those belonging to other people account for the majority of casualties from predators in both suburban and rural flocks.
Sadly, most dogs do not want to kill your birds, they simply want to chase and play. Unfortunately, even chasing can be fatal to the birds and when not fatal it will disrupt their egg laying patterns.
Dogs with an instinct to chase will overcome barriers such as fences by digging or climbing. Keep in mind that a dog attacking your flock is not the dog’s fault. It is yours. Dogs are doing what dogs are supposed to do. Generally dogs will not eat chickens but they will break their necks wings or pluck feathers.
Almost daily you will hear from chicken owners heart broken after their dog has attacked and killed their most prized birds. When the predator is also your pet finding safe options to protect your flock without eliminating the predator becomes extremely important. The goal is to find a method that keeps your flock safe while taking into account the welfare of your dogs. Depending on the layout of your home, homestead, farm or ranch you may have a variety of options or be significantly limited on what you can do due to lack of space or regulations imposed by your city.
Regardless of the size of your property we have found that a wired dog fence around your coop and run or a wire delimiting the free range pasture for your birds and the area for your dogs is one of the most affordable, aesthetic and effective solutions to reduce or eliminate losses to your flock due to your dog’s hunting instincts. Let’s explore some options:
Create Separate Areas for Dogs & Flocks
If the size of your property is sufficient to apply the general idea of cross fencing as a way to create a separate environment for your dogs and your flocks. Consider using invisible wired fencing as a more economical, durable and safer alternative than creating a physical fence between the areas set aside for your dogs and the area intended for your flocks. This is a fantastic way to manage spaces for medium farms or homesteads where you might have fence around the property and a simple straight line of wired fence will create a boundary limiting the area dogs are able to use. Keep in mind that you will have to incorporate some fencing to keep your chickens isolated. The fence to keep your flocks secure does not need to be strong since birds will not try to pus their way across. The fence does need to be high to take into account that many chickens are able to fly high enough to jump a physical fence. Consider using Dewitt Deer Fence netting. You should be able to cover 100 linear feet for under $100.
Create a Perimeter Around the Coop & Run
If your flock is mainly contained to a coop and run the approach to flock safety is slightly different. Many chicken owners report issues with their dogs sneaking into the coop and run during feedings or by digging or damaging gates. When the dog or dogs do get into the coop and run the damage tends to be really high since the birds don’t have the option to escape. When this happens expect carnage. We once heard of 20 show quality birds lost to a Rottweiler inside their run. Creating a corrective perimeter around your coop and run may just be the ticket to keep your flock safe. Usually a flock owner can complete a DIY installation within a couple of days. Within a matter of weeks dogs trained under supervision will begin to understand their boundaries as it relates to the coop and run. Consider selecting a wired fence that provides two levels of correction allowing for the dog or dogs to receive a warning prior to full correction.
If you are running electricity to your coop and run for the purpose of warmth and light to stimulate egg production you can simply hook up your fence to the same power source. An alternative for coops without electricity is to install a solar panel and battery set aside exclusively to run the electric dog fence. With solar panels priced as low as $100 this is definitively an affordable options when it comes to protecting your flock.
Use a Corrective E-Collar if Dogs & Birds Must Share Space
If your flock and dogs must share space consider using a training collar. Using a training collar will require far more engagement on your part but it can be useful in showing the dog a more direct association. Instead of respecting a boundary the dog trained with a collar will associate corrections with proximity to the birds. If due to the layout of your terrain or specific needs of your homestead you cannot use a perimeter fence consider training your dog with the help of a training collar. During the training period your dog will require supervision and you will need to decide when to trigger the correction. It is important to note that some flock keepers recommend that you do not provide verbal feedback in association with the correction to reduce the risk of your dog associating the correction with you instead of focusing on the bad behavior.
The recommendations above relate only to the risks associated with domesticated dogs sharing space with flocks. For other predators such as foxes, coyotes, bobcats and raccoons the flock owner must explore other measures such as raised coops, movement activated lights and bird netting.
Important Reminder: Most predators can tear chicken wire with ease. Only use chicken wire to keep chickens in. Never to keep predators out.
Here is a list of the top three electric dog fences to protect your coop or free range chicken pasture:
- Petsafe Yardmax: Use the Yardmax to divide pastures. A buried wire will convey the signal to the dog collar alerting the dog of their boundaries. Keep in mind that this fencing arrangement will not protect your flock from wondering into the dog area. Make sure you install a netting fence high enough to keep the birds in their assigned area.
- Petsafe Wireless: If your flock is being raised within the boundaries of a double-gate coop and run a Petsafe wireless is a cost-effective option to deter your dogs from behaviors such as digging under the run or pushing the door to access your birds. You can power your Petsafe wireless with a solar panel or using the electricity you have already installed in your coop.
- SportDog-SD-105: If your dogs are going to share space with your birds and you plan to make a correction on how they engage with the birds a SportDog SD-105 will do the trick. It works with most breeds and can be used with tougher to train stubborn dogs. The unit is waterproof and has a range of 100 yards. With eight levels of stimulation you can adjust the correction to the learning style of your dogs.
What about when you have no control over the dog attacking your flock?
If the dog or dogs attacking your flock are not your own you can deal with them the way you would deal with predators such as bobcats. Many municipalities allow for a dog to be killed if caught attacking livestock. Check with your local sheriff to understand what are the laws in you area.