It's not uncommon for domestic cats and dogs to want to make a tasty treat out of chicks or even full-grown chickens. However, while your pets may behave unpredictably around your chicks, there are steps you can take to protect your new feathered friends.
- Allow your pet to experience your chickens' scent from you first before preparing an official introduction. After handling the chicks, offer to let your pet nose your hands.
- Wait until after play time or a meal so your pet is at her best before allowing her to peek into your brooder to see what’s going on. Let your pet watch you interact with the chicks. Do not leave your pet unattended with the chicks at any time, no matter how much tolerance she displays.
- Once you move the chicks outdoors, continue to watch your pet closely. If she is overly curious or aggressive, consider surrounding the coop with ultra-low-voltage electrical fencing. Thanks to an occasional light zap on the nose, your pet eventually will ignore the enclosure.
- If your pet is uninterested or seems to tolerate your chickens, you may decide to let them coexist in the backyard. However, remember that all pets have traces of their ancestral predator instincts, and there is no guarantee that they won't act aggressively toward your chickens.
Ultimately, if your pet is aggressive, or if you have neighborhood pets taking an interest in your chickens, you'll need to treat pets just like any other predator (see Protecting Chickens from Predators). Hopefully, your own house pets will not only live harmoniously with your chickens, but they will begin to see your chickens as part of the family and either protect them or alert you when danger is near.