How to Train Your Dog to Not Attack Chickens

Hard
2-12 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

You’ve always loved the great outdoors. You like being immersed in nature with a variety of animals roaming around your property, from dogs to chickens. But having such a diverse home can come with its own challenges. Does your dog have an appetite for your pet chickens, for example? You want to be able to let your chickens and dogs wander around freely, but  don’t want to lose another chicken to your canine friend?

Your chickens may be part of your livestock, you may depend on them for eggs and dinners of your own. If you can train your dog not to attack the chickens, you can finally have the harmonious home you envisaged. You will be able to relax when it all goes quiet and not panic whenever you start do a chicken headcount. Otherwise, your fear is that Chicken Run, the movie, may become chicken run, your reality, and your chickens will become hell bent on escaping.

Defining Tasks

Training your dog not to attack the chickens will require a number of different elements. You will certainly need obedience commands to retain control over him when he is around the chickens. You will also need to take steps to familiarize him with the chickens. 

As you can probably imagine, training him not to attack chickens will be no straightforward task. This task is made even harder if he has already developed a taste for chicken, or he is older and stuck in his ways. However, with persistence and patience, you should be able to train him to behave around chickens in a few weeks or months. It is important you succeed in this endeavor if you want to protect the lives of your chickens and possibly any other animals you have on your property.

Getting Started

Before work begins, you will need to round up several things. You may want to get a body harness for training. This will help you retain control and reduce the strain on your dog's neck. A secure leash will also be required and possibly a muzzle if you don’t feel confident that you can hold onto him securely to begin with.

You will also need an abundance of treats or his favorite food to act as both an incentive and reward. Apart from that, you just need an optimistic attitude and a good degree of patience, then you’re ready to get to work!

The Stop & Pull Method

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Stop & Pull method for Not Attack Chickens
Step
1
Getting ready
Secure him to leash and secure your chickens in a coop. Once they are both secure, slowly head over to the chickens.
Step
2
Be vigilant
Keep an eye on his behavior and wait for him to pull or lunge. As soon as he goes for the chickens, say "STOP" loudly and firmly so he knows you mean business.
Step
3
React swiftly
Pull him in the opposite direction and walk away. Ensure you do this at the same time as you say "STOP". He will quickly associate his aggressive behavior with being pulled in the opposite direction and a stern tone from his owner.
Step
4
Small steps
Edge closer to the chickens every few days. Every day you need to take him towards the chickens, following the steps above. After several days or weeks, you will be able to get closer to the chickens before he shows signs of aggression. This is progress, it may be slow, but it was always going to be, so be patient!
Step
5
Lose the leash
When can walk him around the chickens without showing signs of aggression, you can remove the leash. It may take many weeks or months to get to this stage, but when you can finally lose the leash, stay very close to him for the first few leash-free encounters.
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The Restrain & Reward Method

Effective
1 Vote
Restrain & Reward method for Not Attack Chickens
Step
1
Setting up
Secure your chickens in a pen and put your dog on a leash. Ensure you have firm control over the leash and then prepare to head towards the chickens. A body harness will help you retain control if he is big and strong.
Step
2
Slowly approach
As you are approaching, constantly praise and pet him, even reward him with a treat. You are showing him that this calm behaviour around the chickens will prove fruitful.
Step
3
Cut the praise
Stop all praise and rewards as soon as he display signs of aggression. Also stand firmly still until he has calmed down. This will show him that as soon as he changes from passive to aggressive he’ll stop receiving attention and he won’t be able to get any closer.
Step
4
Step by step
You don’t want to rush this process, so take it extremely slowly. If you get several feet, reward him and then take him away and play with him for 5 minutes. The next day, go back and try and get several feet closer. The trick is to slowly build familiarity between your dog and the chickens in a steady, controlled manner.
Step
5
Repeat
Repeat this process until you can walk around the chickens without him displaying any signs of aggression. Only after many weeks, you should finally be walking around the chickens with your dog. Once you can walk around them calmly, slowly reduce the frequency of treats. Finally, when he hasn’t shown signs of aggression in many weeks or months, you can take him off the leash.
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The 'Drop' Method

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'Drop' method for Not Attack Chickens
Step
1
Get his attention
Take a treat and hold it in front of his nose. You are going to teach him to drop when you command him to. This will increase your control around the chickens so you can quickly get a handle on his behavior until he cuts all signs of aggression.
Step
2
Slowly lure him to the ground
Use the treat to bring his head to the ground, you may also want to gently push his back down to encourage him to begin with.
Step
3
'Drop'
Say "drop" firmly as he approaches the ground. Then, as soon as he is lying down, give him a treat and praise him. It is important you give him the treat within 3 seconds of lying down, otherwise he won’t associate the 'drop' with the treat. Practice this everyday for 10-15 minutes until he drops when you instruct them to, without the promise of food.
Step
4
Head for the chickens
Walk slowly, giving him verbal and physical attention as you approach. Then as soon as he shows signs of aggression, stop and have him drop to the floor. As soon as he does this, reward him with a treat and praise. Removing the positive stimuli of you giving him attention is known as positive punishment and he will quickly respond to it.
Step
5
10 minutes daily practice
Slowly make your way closer to the chickens, ensuring you have him drop whenever he turns aggressive and see to it you always praise him up until the point his behavior changes. Over many weeks, he will begin to understand he gets zero attention as soon as he turns aggressive.When he is finally comfortable around the chickens, you can reduce the frequency of treats and remove the leash.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Shilo
Pit Bull/Australian Shepherd
4 Years
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Question
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Shilo
Pit Bull/Australian Shepherd
4 Years

My dog continues to kill my neighbor's chickens, run out the door when accidentally left open and barks non-stop. If she doesn´t clean up her behavior, she will need to find a new home.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
327 Dog owners recommended

Hello Andie, I suggest hiring a trainer who is very experienced using e-collars to work on boundary training, teaching an avoidance of chickens, and a Quiet command. Check out the videos linked below for an example of teaching a dog to avoid chasing and killing livestock. Day 1 https://youtu.be/lgNbWCK9lFc Day 2 https://youtu.be/ZvmgfnF1vmk Day 3 https://youtu.be/xj3nMvvHhwQ Check out the article linked below and follow the Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark I suggest having a trainer help you with the barking as well, but the first step is teaching a Quiet command. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Little Ann
Great Pyrenees
2 Years
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Question
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Little Ann
Great Pyrenees
2 Years

We have chickens in a large run. She is fine around them as long as they are in the run. If one gets out they are fare game to her. She doesn't outright kill them, she strips the feathers and skin until they die. The she will 'clean up'the mess.

She loves the chase anything and I think that is part of it. Just fun for her.

What would be the best way to cure her of this?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
327 Dog owners recommended

Hello David, I suggest hiring a trainer who is very experienced using e-collars to help you teach an avoidance of chickens. Check out the videos linked below for an example of teaching a dog to avoid chasing and killing livestock. Day 1 https://youtu.be/lgNbWCK9lFc Day 2 https://youtu.be/ZvmgfnF1vmk Day 3 https://youtu.be/xj3nMvvHhwQ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden Check out the article linked below and follow the Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark

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Question
Leila
Mixed breed
3 Years
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Question
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Leila
Mixed breed
3 Years

I've been working with Leila since she was a puppy to leave my sometimes free roaming chickens alone. My other two dogs have had zero problems but every time I think I have broken Leila's habit of chasing and plucking them to death she does it again. She will be fine and ignore them and even avoid walking past them most of the time but if she catches them by surprise and they startle she goes after them and as soon as she's killed one goes and hides knowing she wasn't supposed to touch them.

If I see it I can stop her but If I'm not there at that moment it is the end for that chicken.
I will find the feathers and a dead chicken and I know I will find her tucked under the house porch.

After her latest incident my solution has been to have her on a tie lead when the chickens are allowed to forage, and she gets free range of the yard/property when they are put up in the chicken run.

Is there anything else I can do break this one terrible habit she has. She is an otherwise very friendly, non-aggressive, well behaved, if stubborn dog.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
327 Dog owners recommended

Hello Indigo, I suggest teaching an avoidance using the methods from the trainer linked below. This trainer works with livestock chasing dogs in the UK. I would not tempt her too much though since she has already killed several chickens. I think after doing the training below for extra assurance, with the help of a trainer who is qualified, that you should still mange her interactions with the chickens by keeping them apart when you can. When choosing a trainer you may even want to send some of the videos to the trainer to make sure the trainer has a clear understanding of how to use the remote collar and find a 'working level' (the level to set the collar at for your dog dependent on her sensitivity to it) for such training. Livestock avoidance training videos: Day 1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgNbWCK9lFc Day 2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kpf5Bn-MNko&t=14s Day 3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xj3nMvvHhwQ Day 4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxrGQ-AZylY Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
jackson
Pomeranian-america Eskimo mix
3 Years
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Question
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jackson
Pomeranian-america Eskimo mix
3 Years

my dog in not furious or violent but my dog killed my neighbors chickens.now we have to give him away what should i do so he does not eat the chickens?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
327 Dog owners recommended

Hello Hayley, Depending on whose decision it is to give the dog away - your neighbors or your own, you can try teaching an e-collar avoidance of the chickens. I suggest hiring a trainer who is very experienced with remote e-collar training to help you with this. You also need to work on off-leash obedience. Check out James Penrith from TaketheLeadDogTraining. He has a Youtube channel. He works with dogs that chase and sometimes will kill livestock. To stop the killing you would need to pursue training like that, creating a strong avoidance of all chickens. Whether this is doable will depend on your level of dedication, willingness to learn, and how large the space he is in is. If he is in tight quarters with the chickens, then the temptation will likely be too great or cause him too much stress. If the chickens are out of sight most of the time unless he goes looking for them or leaves your property, so that he can choose to avoid them if he wants to, then the training is likely feasible. If the issue is a legal issue and your neighbors are demanding he leave I am not a lawyer so I cannot address that. Day 1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgNbWCK9lFc Day 2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kpf5Bn-MNko&t=14s Day 3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xj3nMvvHhwQ Day 4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxrGQ-AZylY Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Lucy
Border Collie
3 Years
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Question
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Lucy
Border Collie
3 Years

We rescued Lucy and her husky mix brother about two years ago. We also have one older Shepard/pit mix. We have a Farm, and she is trained to protect the chickens from predators and coral them into their coop at night, along with encouraging strays to come back to the flock (as they are free range chickens). She has no issue with any of these tasks when we are present, however, if we are away she will then attack the chickens, even though she knows she is not allowed. Neither of the other dogs harm the chickens, and she only does it when we are not watching her. how do we get her to protect the chickens when we are not there instead of attacking them. She will be good for months, and then one day out of the blue massacre like a dozen. She doesn't eat them, just kills then for the thrill of the hunt. I am so frustrated. We don't want to have to leave her chained up, as that leaves the chickens vulnerable to predators. Any suggestions?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
327 Dog owners recommended

Hello Natasha, I would contact a trainer who specializes in herding and livestock guarding training to see if they have any additional thoughts on the matter because they will have more detailed experience than I do in that area, but in my experience she needs to be retired as a livestock guardian. You can train her to avoid the chickens to prevent future deaths so that she doesn't have to be chained up likely, but she cannot be pinned up and fenced in with them really close by to guard them while also learning to avoid them to stop the killing. She needs to be taught to avoid the birds, and allowed to avoid them so that she stops killing them. Border Collies can be trained to do a number of things but they are not exactly guardians by nature; they are herders - she will naturally want to control the chickens due to her herding instincts but a true guardian is raised with livestock and genetically prone to guarding so that they bond with those animals and have a natural desire to protect them like they would with family. The desire to control and the intensity for herding is not typically found in a livestock guardian. She may be trying to control the birds with nips and movement, and when they don't cooperate she starts to get rough with them (which herding dogs will sometimes do with large livestock to get their point across and get a stubborn animal to cooperate), then her roughness turns into attacking the bird and she gets on a bit of a killing spree so to speak, because it's fun. To teach her to avoid the birds, check out James Penrith's videos on YouTube - he specializes in livestock chasing and killing: Day 1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgNbWCK9lFc Day 2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kpf5Bn-MNko&t=14s Day 3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xj3nMvvHhwQ Day 4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxrGQ-AZylY Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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