Just another lovely sunny day at Falkensee. Doing some jumping and running pictures :)
... and how everyone with a backyard can keep a couple of hens.
If you want fresh eggs every day, without much work involved, then you should think about getting a few chicken.
Everyone who knows me well, know that I'm the crazy chicken lady. I love my chicken so much and I want to share to all why it's so easy to keep them as pets.
But what about the space?
If you have a backyard or a garden you can keep at least a few hens. They need a coop for the night, with a roost to sit on and a fenced outside space. The size of the coop should be around 1-2 m2 and the outside space should be a minimum of 10 m2. It would be ideal if you could let them outside in the daytime so they have some time in the garden. They also need a few nests to lay their eggs in. Best is a dark corner in the coop for them to lay their eggs, they prefer to sit and do it in the dark.
How many should I get?
First of all, don't keep chicken alone, they thrive off living in a group and need it for their well being.
If you want a small group of hens, the best would be to get two pairs, so four all together. Two of one breed and the other two another breed. Or all four of the same breed. Why? Well, they like to stay together with their own kind and comfort each other. Usually the pairs become best friends for all their lives, they always stay together.
Also you should get four because when you just brought home new hens, it sometimes happens that some die after a few weeks, it doesn't happen every time but it's usual. That's why it's better getting four hens because if one or two die then they won't be alone. And I don't like to recommend a group of three hens because usually one gets left out.
What kind of breed should I get?
I love keeping old breeds alive and not getting the boring hybrid hen type of chicken. So for clarification, hybrid hens are the ones that are living in the mass food-industry and the breed from which we get our eggs at the supermarket. They usually live only a few years, they are overly bred and they lay very many eggs in the first 1-2 years after which they stop laying eggs completely.
The older breeds live up to 9 years, lay constantly a good amount of eggs (of course depends very much on the breed) and are over all healthier than the hybrids. It's also great to keep some of those rarer breeds alive.
I've had many different breeds for example silky chicken, many German breeds such as German Sperber (left on the picture above), Dresdner (on the right in the picture above), Russian Pawlowskaja, french Maran, Araucana and so on.
It's hard to choose a favorite breed, but I think Pawlowskaja and Silky chicken are some of the nicest looking breeds you can keep.
Should I get a rooster and are there any benefits in keeping one?
Well that's completely up to you. I really have liked my roosters in the past but not enjoyed the nightly wake-up calls.
But they do also serve a real purpose. They fertilize the eggs, so that you can get little chicks. They protect the hens from danger and keep the group nicely together.
But they can also be real bullies and not treat the hens so nicely all the time. They might hack them and push them around. You also shouldn't get a large rooster together with small hens because he might crush them while sitting on them.
How do I take care of chicken?
Well you just let them out of the coop in the mornings, feed them and let them in the outside space. It would be good if you can let them free in the afternoons, after they have laid their eggs in the mornings, so they can roam freely.
Chicken take care of those nasty unwelcome guests like slugs and insects in your garden. They find so many other things in the garden full of vitamins, that they need for living.
In the afternoons they go on their own in their coop and you close the door so that the fox or the marten can't get in at night.
What are the environmental benefits in keeping chicken?
You won't have any food rests anymore. There is no need to throw food out because your chicken will take care of all your food rests. But watch out, don't feed them anything too spicy or something that's already old.
You won't need to buy eggs at the supermarket anymore so you won't be supporting the mass industry.
You will be in a way living off your own ground, which is an amazing feeling.
Here is my list of 20 things you can do to keep a happy dog :)
1. Go on regular walks, at least 3 times a day, in the mornings, afternoons and evenings.
2. Maintain a healthy weight and make sure you are feeding high quality dog food.
3. Always offer fresh water. Dogs usually drink too less, so by offering fresh water they'll automatically drink more.
4. Go once or twice a day on a long walk.
5. Teach him new tricks. Dogs love spending time with their owners and getting yummy treats.
6. Switch up his toys. It'll be like he has a brand new toy each time you switch them up.
7. Go regularly to the vet for check ups.
8. Keep your dogs fur in a good shape (especially long furred dogs) and brush him a few times a week.
9. Trim his claws when necessary.
10. Play with him as much as possible. Try out new games like hide and seek or "find the treats".
11. Drive to a lake and go swimming with him.
12. Give your dog attention, pet him, talk to him and make him feel special.
13. Wash him and give him baths when necessary. But don't wash him too often, otherwise he might develop skin problems.
14. Go with your dog to visit family and friends. He'll love the cuddles and the attention.
15. Do outside activities, go on a hike, play games outside.
16. Don't force him to do something he doesn't want to or is scared of.
17. Try to spend as much time as possible with your dog. There are many cafés and restaurants that allow dogs so there isn't always the need to leave your dog at home.
18. Never punish your dog. Only use positive reinforcement instead of negative.
19. Feed him twice a day. If you feed your dog only once a day it's usually not good for his digestion.
20. Last but not least, dogs have a need to run every day. Some great ways to let him have some running time would be by letting him run next to your bike, go jogging, let him have a good play with other dogs or play fetch with him.
The biggest fear of all dog owners, their dog has turned into an aggressive dog.
Some of the most typical reasons aggression's in dogs occur is through a trigger, may it be a strange dog, a bike, a loud child or simply by yelling at the dog. Dog owners with aggressive dogs start to ask themselves what did they do wrong in the training or when did the symptoms first occur.
Possible reasons for a sudden aggression:
1. A puppy who was allowed to do everything with minimal rules. The times he growled and showed his teeth as a puppy was a laughing matter and he looked so cute while doing so. A year later it has turned into a problem because no one addressed the issue while he was a puppy.
2. A health issue. Sometimes pain or an illness can cause the aggression.
3. A dog who comes from the shelter. We don't really know what the dog has been through in the past, the shelter workers try to only tell about his positive attributes so that he will find a home as soon as possible. For an example, there has been many stories about shelter dogs brought home who suddenly turned aggressive and bit the new owners or their children.
4. Not getting enough exercise. A dog that has been cooped up inside an apartment, only getting out a few times a day for short walks, can be very prone to get aggression's. The dogs cannot sometimes control themselves when they are getting over excited.
5. The dog breed (remember, not in all cases!). If you have a Pitbull he will usually be more of a risk than a mini Poodle. Not only because of the type of breed, but because of the size and strength of these types of breeds. We shouldn't forget that they are still being bred today for dog fighting, but mostly it is important how he is socialized and trained as a puppy/young dog.
6. The experiences the dog has had. If well socialized as a puppy, without bad experiences, you will usually have a great dog in the end. If your dog has a bad experience as an older dog, it can also affect his behavior.
7. Food aggression. Food aggression is a typical kind of aggression in dogs which is only a natural behavior they have from their ancestors, the wolves. If you have ever watched a video of wolves eating, there is a clear ritual, the alpha wolves (in most groups these are the parent wolves) eat first and they like to protect their prey in a certain way which reminds very much of dogs with food aggression's. They growl, show their teeth and put their both front paws in between their food. We just don't want our dogs to protect their food. Again, it's important how you treated the feeding time with your dog as a puppy, did he have to wait until you told him "go ahead", did you sometimes take the bowl away or put your hand in the bowl? All these things are crucial while training your dog not to be aggressive around food.
8. Learned behavior. In most cases the dogs who show aggression, may it be fear related or any other reason, only do it because it's a learned behavior and because it's completely carved in his memory it's so hard to get rid of it. Did you just let it happen time after time not addressing the problem?
9. Your reactions to the aggressive behavior. How did you react when your dog showed aggression for the first time? Did you pet him because it looked like he was scared and you wanted to show him you are protecting him? Did you scream at him? Did you get nervous and frightened? This is so important to reflect on because your dog is usually showing the same feelings you are. If you are nervous, your dog can feel it even through the leash and he will automatically become nervous as well. Also if you pet him while doing an unwanted behavior, you are rewarding him and he will expect the next time another reward when he shows aggression's. If you scream at your dog, your dog will feel your frustration and the anger in your voice that he sometimes starts to ignore you completely and decides to do whatever he feels like or he will get even more riled up.
What can you do if your dog has suddenly turned aggressive:
1. Make an appointment at the vet and make a complete check up. In many cases the dog might have internal pain which might be causing the aggressive behavior.
2. Call up a few reputable dog schools and explain about your situation. Find a good dog school where you can do private sessions with dog trainers especially educated and trained in dog aggression.
3. Find a way to avoid the aggression triggers the best you can. For an example, if your dog is aggressive towards other dogs, cross the street if you see a dog coming towards you.
4. After avoiding for a while and when it's working well you can start with the next step. Now you can slowly introduce the triggers again, but very slowly. Best would be to use a helping person for this step.
Start at a very long distance and go very slowly closer to the trigger. While doing so, reward him for good behavior. You will see when you have gone too far, step back and try again (immediately or the next day) to get closer to the trigger. Never punish your dog for a setback. If he starts showing aggressive behavior just ignore it, don't pet him or talk to him if it happens, just step back, and know that you went too close to the trigger. Do these exercises all the while rewarding with a toy (best is to use a fun squeaky toy to get your dogs attention) or yummy treats (use something your dog cannot resist, like cheese or hot dogs).
Do the exercises as often as possible for a longer period of time. Some dogs need longer than the others. Finally when you reach your trigger, it would be good to use a muzzle in the first time, just as a precaution.
5. Always stay calm, never scream at him instead talk in a lower region voice in a calm way and show him you are the leader with your confidence.
6. You will need very much patience and training for it to work but don't give up or get frustrated if it doesn't work immediately, you will be rewarded in the end.
** All based on my own knowledge and experiences in training dogs. **