Oooh, just what I'm looking for. We just got a new puppy and need advice on how to train him. So far, we've had to train the chickens not to run from him (fleeing chickens are just way too fun for a puppy). We keep him on a tight leash and let him watch, make sure he can't even jump forward 1 foot, as that makes the chickens run. What next?
Well, there are two schools of thought. Let's call them the Time-Honored Method and the New School Style.
Time-Honored Method is to get yourself some chickens you don't care much about losing--extra roosters, sort of thing. Big, mean roosters, small puppy. Then you put the puppy in with the roosters all night and most of the day, and he will learn via the School of Hard Knocks that he needs to make nice with the roosters, the roosters are his Pack, and eventually he will guard the roosters by bonding with them, instead of with the humans. Many people swear this works, and I am sure it works fine for them.
We live in a fairly residential area; bits of our farm were sold off into suburbs ages ago, we can't afford an unsocialized dog, so we did the New School Style.
1. Make sure dog has basic obedience sorta-kinda down 95% of the time. It doesn't have to be AKC Good Citizen, but it needs to know No, Come, Sit, Down, Stay off-leash even with distractions. You can teach this as early as possible. Ensure that the whole family is being very consistent on this, the dog needs to know that nobody, NOBODY will let it get away with anything.
2. Clip a 6' leash to the dog's collar, clip the other end to your belt loop, and take dog with you daily when doing chicken chores. If the dog even looks at a chicken like it's thinking about hot wings, correct it however you normally do that. For my two dogs, a yank of the leash was sufficient most of the time, and a Cesar Millan type shoulder-poke was enough all the time. Yes, the first two weeks of filling up feeders and waterers are awkward. When shoveling poop, I just clipped them to a hitching post in the barn. Eventually, the dog will get used to the routine and Heel. How long that takes, depends on how smart your dog is: our Pyrenees was super-smart and figured it out right quick, but the Newfie was pretty thick and took months to learn.
3. Bring the dog into the coop and have it lay down calmly for a minute or two, on-leash. The chickens will slowly come up to investigate their new furry pal, and this may agitate the dog. Correct it and make it stay. Sprinkle a little scratch around the dog to encourage the chickens to come right up. Do this at least daily, then when it seems to be going well, try it off-leash, for longer and longer periods of time. Don't worry much about previous canine behaviors, chickens have short memories.
4. Put the dog in a pen with some extra roosters or mean hens. Supervise closely for a while. Gradually work up to longer time periods, less supervision. The dog, if it is still puppyish, may try to play with the chickens as if they were smaller dogs, and make sure you correct that right away. If the roosters spur the dog, or the hen attacks, make sure the dog knows the appropriate response is to back away. If it's not backing away, get in there, grab its collar, and make it back off. Eventually, you will be able to leave the dog alone for many hours, unsupervised.
They may still make mistakes; our Newfie still tries to play with chickens once in a while, she is still puppyish (2 1/2 years old). Just keep correcting, re-directing to the appropriate behavior by telling them, Sit! Down! Stay! The Pyr seemed to finally get past his playful behaviors when he tried to play with a standard-sized broody hen, and she sliced his nose open. Mostly you want to get it into their heads that this is also their pack, and build on their notion of Territory--our dogs see the barn as their Territory, and know that Birds are supposed to be in the Barn. To the point that they frequently try to herd wild turkeys, pigeons and crows into the barn when given half a chance, but that's a different issue... :catchchick:
One more thing--try not to build too much on predator-type behaviors. Chasing toys, games that challenge their sight-type skills (throwing a small ball all the way across the yard to fetch), play-biting, all are bad news. I see lots of people allow play-biting in puppies, and then the dog grows up and they have no end of trouble with kids, neighbors and vets getting bit.