The major source of trouble for the country dog owner is the chasing, injuring or killing of livestock by his dog. Many dogs, since they are fundamentally hunters, take great delight in chasing poultry and livestock. Others make it a more deadly game and injure or kill livestock and poultry, especially sheep. Your country dog must be taught that he cannot molest livestock. Farmers and the law have no sympathy for the problems of an owner of a livestock-killing dog. And the law exacts severe penalties from the dog owner. A full discussion on livestock-killing dogs and the law will be found in Chapter 10.
When you have taught your dog basic obedience, you can take steps to teach him not to molest poultry or livestock. Prior to this the pup should be kept in a kennel or the house and not allowed to roam the countryside.
Introduce the pup to poultry and livestock while he is on the leash. If you have your own poultry or livestock, so much the better. You can let the pup accompany you while you do your chores. If you don't have any poultry or animals, you will have to get the cooperation of a neighboring farmer in helping you train your pup.
Naturally, when the pup gets near any livestock or poultry, he's going to be curious and playful. But keep him under control and be on the alert for any sudden lunge to grab a chicken or nip at the heels of an animal. The pup may only have playful intentions, but he can inflict serious or mortal injury on poultry. All he has to do is puncture a bird with his teeth and if it happens to be in a vital spot, the bird is in trouble.
By all means, let the pup satisfy his curiosity. He'll only accomplish this when he has had a chance to move close to and sniff the bird or animal. Lead him over to the cow, sheep or horse and let him sniff the animal. If he tries to dash at the animal or begins to bounce around, barking all the while, correct him. This is the time to set the dog straight about livestock. They are his friends and he is not to molest them. Be stern with him.
You will have to work differently when introducing the pup to poultry. Most poultry are very flighty and skittish, especially White Leghorns, which will fly in all directions when disturbed or frightened. And very few of the other poultry breeds will stand still and permit the pup to sniff them. At his approach, they will usually squawk and run off. The best method of bringing the dog and poultry together for the first time is for you to get a bird and bring it to the dog. Give him the command to sit-stay and then let him sniff the bird. Be on the alert for any sudden moves. Also, make sure that you have a tight hold on the bird; if it gets away from you, the dog will be after it before you can issue a reprimand. Let him smell the bird all over. If he tries to grab or nip the bird, reprimand him with a sharp rap on the nose.
Later, after the dog has been introduced to the bird, you can lead him on the leash around and among the other poultry. Keep him under control and curb any tendency to run or dash or bark with a jerk on the leash or vocal reprimand. Eventually, the pup will learn to accept the poultry and livestock. But don't expect this to happen after one or two lessons; you will have to keep working with the pup. When a chicken can stroll past the pup without his giving chase, you can consider the job done.
Possible encounters with skunks, poisonous snakes and porcupines are to be expected if the country dog is not confined. There is nothing you can do about them, except keep the dog in a kennel. First aid for your dog when he does meet a skunk, snake or porcupine is given in Chapter 17.
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