It is good to try and introduce your new puppy to all kinds of animals. If you have cats, friends with other dogs, small animals living at home or large animals in your yard it is great exposure for your puppy when he comes home. We have a decent amount of wildlife here on our property, from a resident family of groundhogs to many turtles and squirrels, many bunnies and wild birds and the wandering cats the neighbors don’t lock up (by the way, what is up with that? Why is it illegal and rude to let your dog wander the neighborhood freely but it is perfectly acceptable to let your cat go onto other people’s property and eat their songbirds and poop in their yard? Hmm?)
Well we don’t have tame house cats to introduce the puppies to, unfortunately, as I suffer from pet allergies (believe it or not). But we have a new flock of baby chickens in our backyard that we can introduce your puppy to! It isn’t a common animal they’ll come into contact with but hey, a positive experience with other animals is just that. And it is an important experience for the dog expected to live among people and our various companion animals and/or livestock.
Our chicks are pretty small still but they’re mostly feathered out (and not downy-fuzz chicks). Despite not being the absurdly cute little fluffy peeps they are still pretty darn cute. Well, I think so anyway. So I took some photos of your puppies having their first interaction with a bird. How will they respond? After all there are bird dogs and hunting dogs in their ancestry. Here we go!
Here are the photos in alphabetical order:
Cocoa: How did she respond? Silly Cocoa. She sniffed at the chickens then decided to poop. I moved her to a designated location and praised her for her “work” and put her back with the chickens. She ran happily toward the chickens… and proceeded to try and eat their food. Silly puppy. No chicken food for you!
Next up is Filbert: he is a funny little guy. You can see by the tail carried high like a jolly flag that he isn’t in the least bit intimidated by the new situation. He is very confident, albeit disinterested in the feathered creatures in front of him. He eventually tried to get the chickens to play with him. He gave some kisses and ever-so-gently bit on a chicken’s foot with his toothless little mouth. None of this seemed to impress the chickens, who carried on scratching, pecking and chasing me (trying to sit in my lap). He might as well have been invisible. But he tried!
Now we have little Kola. He was very cautious on approaching the birds but once he was near them and saw they were not really all that threatening (or even paying him any mind) he decided to give them a good taste. He tasted them all a few times to log that new discovery in his baby brain and then sniffed around the yard and proceeded to follow me around.
Now we have our big sweet baby Mongongo. He responded exactly as I predicted he would. He is a jolly little guy, pretty much happy and relaxed no matter what you do with him. Before I could test him out with our flock I had to snap a few pictures because he had his tongue sticking out just a tiny bit. This is something nursing puppies do sometimes. It is really cute. Often I will find them sleeping like this, just a little pink peeping out. So cute! Puppy tongues are just cute.
Well Mongongo is a doll and he kinda sat there for a minute, considering the chickens. Then he suddenly got up, jaunted over there and made friends with the chickens. He was the only puppy able to successfully make friends with the chickens. They liked him right back! The chickens and Mongo all hung out for a little bit and enjoyed the warm and gently overcast afternoon.
Now we have little Pistachio. How did she do? Well she was the most cautious when meeting the birds at first. She was also the first puppy to say hello. (We brought them over one at a time so their reactions would be all their own). She walked over very cautiously and sniffed around. Then a chicken flew off my hand and landed just a little bit on Pistachio’s head… oops. That was totally my fault. Pistachio gave a surprised yelp and then jumped backwards. She looked at the chicken very surprised then gave a good, loud “bark!” at the chicken! It was very funny. The chicken just cocked her head to the side like “it was an accident!” and Pistachio backed up a few more paces and barked again, then walked over and sniffed at the chicken. Pistachio proceeded to try and give the chicken’s face a bath. Then we let Cocoa come play with Pistachio a while with the chickens nearby because apparently having a chicken land on your head makes one want to run around and play and be cute. Chickens also seem to stimulate the bowels because we had lots of puppy pooping going on! That is really just because of all the exercise. It was good practice for going potty in the grass and getting lots of praise for it.
Praline was a cutie pie, as usual. She also decided that the chickens were indeed food. Well, that is my interpretation of her over zealous licking and mouthing of our feathered friends. She tasted a little wing and tried to chew on some chicken legs. She is no dummy! Chickens are yummy. Well, I explained that these chickens won’t be “dinner” for a very long time so she ought not to give them a nibble. She was fine with playing in the lawn after her banishment from the tempting flock. Surprisingly the chickens didn’t pay her any mind at all. Perhaps they’d have been more concerned if Praline had her puppy teeth in. Then she probably would have gotten a right good peck on the head.
Finally we have little Shea. Our hard-to-photograph black baby did very well. She was completely disinterested in the chickens. She gave their food a sniff and she looked at them but was far more interested in being cuddled in my lap. She certainly did her lazy puppy version of exploring. She sniffed about, sniffed the birds and looked at them and then decided it was cuddle-the-people time. She was fantastic. Calm, confident, and just the right amount of interested. She is motivated to be with people (always a very good thing) and she didn’t show any signs of stress at the new situation whatsoever. All excellent results from our little chicken experience.
If you’re wondering what our chickens’ names are we have 8 chickens: 2 Buff Orpington chickens that we call “buff orpingtons”, we have a Speckled Sussex we call “speckled sussex”, a French cuckoo marans we call “the marans”, a Silver Lacewing who gets called “Lacey”, a barred Plymouth Rock that gets called “Barred Rock”, a crazy (and ugly) Salmon Faverolle we call “Scrambles” and a little, bitty and very sweet Cream Legbar we call “Peep”.
Yep… not nearly as creative as my puppy names.
I’m sure after we hatch out our Easter-Egger chicks in a few weeks and add to the flock we’ll name them all. (we have a dozen eggs in an incubator currently and we’re hoping to get 2-3 hens out of that group). So naming the chickens will surely happen. My nearly three-year old son just calls them “dinner” and I’m not even joking. He came up with that himself. He said “what’s dat”, I said “that is a chicken” and he said “dinner? Come here Dinner! I want to kiss you!” and he does kiss and hug them. But he calls them “Dinner” still.
Well, we got these hens for laying, not the stew pot, so he might just have to be disappointed there. Not sure Mama is too keen on butchering anything I’ve raised since infancy… I suppose we’ll see what happens in a couple of years if our hens stop being prolific layers. That and if any of our hens turn out to be roosters… you wake me up at the crack of dawn then you’re going to get eaten (unless you’re a dog or a person). That’s the rules for livestock around here!! 🙂