4 min read


Why Dogs Chase Birds



4 min read


Why Dogs Chase Birds




Does your dog love to chase birds? Many do. Have you noticed how there's nothing like the flutter of a feathery wing to get your dog's attention? Your pup can be fast asleep on the lawn and in a flash, when a bird swoops by, he's up and chasing it across the grass faster than you can say Jack Sparrow. If you're lucky enough to live close to the beach and take your dog for walks there, does he find chasing the birds along the shoreline more interesting than going for a swim in the sea? There's no doubt dogs find chasing birds an exciting pastime, but why?

The Root of the Behavior

A dog chasing a bird is a pretty normal canine behavior. Who wouldn't want to run after things if they'd been blessed with four legs? In his mind’s eye, your pup probably sees the bird as a good substitute for all the kibble you've been feeding him. Yes, he's slipped back to his ancestral times and gone into hunting mode. Who can blame him, have you tried kibble? Don’t, it tastes awful. Anything that moves is, as far as a dog is concerned, a candidate for being chased. When his natural instincts kick in, it's almost impossible for him to resist the urge to chase. Chasing after a bird for your dog is on a par with you being in the drive-by queue at a burger restaurant, you know if you keep going you're going to get something eventually. Your dog thinks the same. If he keeps on chasing, one day he may end up catching something. To him he's just doing what comes naturally and going after what he considers to be some prospectively tasty quarry. Your dog has an amazing fascination for the world around him. With his super sense of smell and acute eyesight, everything he finds in his environment is interesting to him. Dogs are also creatures who have a sense of curiosity. They'll spot something fluttering and the first thing they'll think is, I've got to get a look at that. Doesn't matter if he's seen a hundred of the same thing before, he'll be off investigating it at a rocket pace. If the object of his interest decides to fly away, he doesn't really have any other choice than to start chasing after it, or he'll never find out what he wants to know which probably boils down to the simple fact of whether it's edible or not.

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Encouraging the Behavior

Although its normal behaviour for a dog to chase birds, it's not always the best hobby for your pet to have. When he's got his sights set on one of our feathered friends and is merrily chasing him around the garden or park, he could quite by accident stray onto the road. This can cause havoc, not only with whichever species of avifauna are local to your area and which he’s taken a shine to, but with traffic too, and that can have some pretty disastrous consequences. Feathers are not very digestible. Although until your dog has caught one, he won't be aware of this fact. If he had, he probably wouldn't bother trying it again. When your dog chases a bird and happens to catch it, stray feathers can get stuck in his mouth or even worse, in his throat and that can provoke an attack of choking. This is not good all around. It's uncomfortable for the dog, worse for the bird, and even scarier for you. Letting a dog chase birds can also have a very disruptive effect on wildlife. Birds tend to spend time on the ground, making them accessible targets for chasing, during their migratory rest periods or when they need to feed. Yes, that includes those moments when they might be pulling worms from your lawn. When your dog chases them, it prevents them performing the functions which are essential to their well-being.

Other Solutions and Considerations

Even though chasing birds is a natural trait in a dog which is instigated pretty much without their control, they just instinctively want to hunt, the urge can be controlled relatively easily. You can try training your dog not to chase or even take some special sessions with a professional dog trainer who will show you the best ways to master his primal impulses. Birds carry diseases which can be contagious to dogs. Although it's rare for dogs to be infected with bird viruses or any other problematic bacteria, prevention is always better than cure and training your dog to stop chasing birds could save you an enormous vet's bill.


Dogs love to chase birds whatever species they might be. Whether they are in the park, in the garden or leaving paw prints in the sand on a beachfront while running after a squawking seagull, they enjoy it. Even though they probably shouldn't. Why not persuade your dog to forget the chasing, get him some doggy binoculars and teach him bird appreciation from a distance?

By a Shiba Inu lover Patty Oelze

Published: 02/07/2018, edited: 01/30/2020

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