He did pretty well! He didn’t get as close as Cricket did, however, because we take everything very slowly with our reactive dog Luke. A couple times we had been out there, it seemed like he didn’t even notice them so this time (last week) I wanted to be sure he did. As soon as I felt him go tense, we didn’t go any closer.
In this second photo you can kind of see that he almost seemed just a bit scared of them, moving away. I let him watch for a minute and then we moved on, so he wouldn’t think they were any big deal.
The point of all this going slowly is moot now anyway, because on Saturday morning the chickens got their freedom and they are now free range! They were kind of funny….very timid about venturing out at first and sticking pretty close to the coop.
Eventually they started going a little further each time, mostly sticking close to the garage and barn to start with. They actually seem to love the pole barn, and they hang out in there a lot now. It’s been pretty hot the last couple of days and I think it’s cooler in there for them.
By Sunday evening, the fun really began because they started getting closer and closer to the house. Then they were spotted by both Cricket and Luke. Even Cricket, who had virtually ignored them when they were in their pen, started barking at them in the yard! Of course, that egged Luke on as well, and then they’d take turns getting each other wound up.
Overall, they did great though. With a lot of “leave-it” and “be nice”, they did not carry on for long. We really feel that in time they’ll be fine. One of our blog friends and readers, Raven, commented “If Cricket is calm around the chickens will that help Luke be less reactive?” on the post I wrote recently about Cricket meeting them. At the time I told her that I didn’t know, I thought it would probably have the opposite effect, and they’d egg each other on. However, I’m starting to see a little bit of what Raven said happening too. If Cricket stops barking, Luke kind of loses interest some of the time and doesn’t carry on either, and if he’s under the deck looking out at them, he’ll come back up to us.
We will still be cautious of course, because Luke has shown prey drive before. When heading out for walks, I’ll observe where the chickens are and be sure I have a firm grip on his leash when we’re passing them.
We’ve had some wild turkeys hanging around lately too, so one time I thought they were barking at the chickens, it was actually those turkeys. Well, my theory is, we didn’t name it “Barking Dog” Organic Farm for nothing, so they have to live up to that reputation at least some of the time! They are, after all, just learning to be farm dogs and I think they’ll settle into their new roles in time.