I am not a fan of the neighborhood dogs. In fact, that is an understatement. I am quite upset with the canines that patrol around here. We don’t have a lot of chicken predators living in the suburbs, but neighborhood dogs are a threat. In fact a neighboring chicken owner lost his entire flock a few years back to a dog. Yesterday I was grateful that I don’t free range my hens. I was enjoying my Sunday morning when I heard desperate cries from my chickens. I ran out to discover a very large, wolf like dog circling my hens in their run. The chickens, horribly panicked, squawked and screeched, frantically running around and around trying desperately to flee. I wish they would have remembered to seek refuge in the coop, but they panicked and in the process they bumped and scraped an injured themselves. I chased the dog and he watched through the fence next door, even though that wasn’t his home. I opened the door of the run to assess the damage when to my horror all four chickens bolted. They were still horribly afraid and the desire to run was strong. I was petrified that the dog was going to run after my girls. I told my 13-year-old daughter to keep an eye on the dog as I ran as quickly as I could to scoop up the hens which were quickly fleeing to the driveway which lead to the road. I could only gather them two at a time, so by the time I got to the last two they were almost to the road. After the hens were safe we were finally able to scare off the dog and I was able to check out the injuries. Combs and beaks were scraped and bleeding.
Amelia was the worst. She injured her beak and comb. This wasn’t the first time she’d met this dog, and this is where she was hurt before. He terrorized my hens last year before they were laying. It is hard to see in this picture but her comb was bleeding right where it meets her beak. I took time to calm Amelia, to clean the cut, and to apply some ointment.
There was also a disturbing amount of feathers littered around. I’m not sure if the dog swiped the hens or in the stress they lost their feathers.
All four hens were very distressed, but thankfully they survived. If we didn’t have them in a run I’m sure they would have met their end.
The chickens seemed to recognize that we had saved them and would frantically cluck when we would try to leave. My two youngest daughters decided to stay nearby and soothe the hens. After awhile they were okay to let us go.
When we went to leave for church the hens began panicking again, and sure enough wolf dog was back. I tried to catch him and ending up following him to his home, which ended up being just two homes to our west. The owner yelled at his dog to get in the house. I wasn’t sure what else to say at first. I heard myself saying “Your dog keeps trying to get my chickens”. He didn’t really respond, but since he had yelled at the dog to get in the house I just mumbled “Thanks”, and went on my way. I probably should have let him have it, but I don’t think he even lives there. It is complicated. Thankfully we didn’t see the dog again, but something else happened tonight.
As we were sitting down to dinner tonight one of my daughters suddenly said “Oh No!”. A medium build, black dog was circling the run terrorizing my hens. My oldest daughter ran out first and I ran out after her, even though I was only in my socks. The dog kept running around the run and coop, almost oblivious to our presence. There seemed to be nothing we could do to stop it. My husband stepped in, yelling loudly at the dog, and he ran off. To our dismay we found out that the dog lives two houses to our East where it ran home. The hens are even more injured than they were yesterday. Again it is just their beaks and combs, but the injuries are still there. One by one I treated them with ointment. Amelia seemed especially upset huddled in a nesting box. I expect the hens will lay less these next couple of days. It is so frustrating to spend so much time taking care of my chickens to have them terrorized by someone’s pet which has been allowed to roam.
It makes me even more determined to get them in a larger more permanent area which will make it easier for them to retreat from a predator. It will have to be secure, that is sure. I am grateful my hens are now safely tucked in their coop. I hope the dog attacks stop, especially since the owners seem aware, but only time will tell. Stupid dogs!