Two weeks ago I wrote about how we’d started Elliot’s “hen training“. Well it’s still going on, we’re taking things slowly because while Elliot is a natural livestock guardian and he’s great around the sheep, we weren’t sure how he’d behave around the hens. Being a rescue dog it’s possible he’s had to scavenge small animals including birds during his early months on the streets. Rushing the hen training just wouldn’t be the right thing to do in his case. And anyway, building his “hen friendly neural pathways” takes time. We also wanted the hens to get used to Elliot as these things work both ways. If Elliot and the hens are to get along, they both need to be used to each other’s presence.
It’s four weeks into the training, ten minutes a day of bringing him into the orchard, throwing corn down for the hens and bringing them a tiny bit closer each time.
This week the hens are about one meter away from Elliot which is good progress. The atmosphere remains calm and relaxed. Elliot continues to show the right kind of interest, not fixating, just looking. He’s showing all the right signs of being a good hen friend, but we’re going to keep going with the training until we can have the hens running right up and around him while he remains calm and relaxed. The hens must always be higher status than Elliot, even if they’re in his space, Elliot must respect them.
I’ll be back in a few weeks with more news.