How to Train Your Dog to Not Kill Animals

Hard
3-6 Months
Behavior

Introduction

Has your dog been attacking and killing your chickens? Does he keep the local squirrel population down? The desire to stalk and eat other animals is as natural to your dog as breathing. Your dog has a "prey drive" that is part of his natural role in the wild as both a predator and a hunter. However, this type of behavior doesn't necessarily mean your dog is aggressive, he is just following his instincts, which makes teaching him not to behave in this manner quite challenging and time-consuming.

There is nothing worse than going for a walk with your pup on a leash and suddenly finding yourself being drug across half the neighborhood as your dog chases a member of the local squirrel gang. Before you get to the point where you hate the idea of taking your dog for a walk, take the time to train your dog not to chase and kill animals. 

Defining Tasks

There are so many different reasons to teach your dog not to kill animals, ranging from making sure your flock of chickens is safe to keeping your dog from getting run over chasing a cat or squirrel across the street. Before you can start to train your dog not to chase and kill other animals, he must be fully trained to 'sit' and 'stay'. You may also want to teach him commands like 'down' and be sure he has a very strong recall.

In order for your dog to learn not to kill, he must respond to being called by his name and obey the commands you are trying to give him. If you can't get him to listen to you when you call him, he is not going to be able to follow any other commands. You can teach this behavior to any age dog, but the earlier you start training your dog, the faster he will learn. 

Getting Started

When it comes to teaching your dog not to kill animals, you need plenty of patience, a healthy supply of treats, a leash, and a quiet place to train him. Be sure to choose a time when you and your pup can focus on nothing but his training. It takes lots of time and patience to teach your dog a new behavior and even more so when you are trying to train him not to do what comes naturally to him.

However, when you stop to realize this training will certainly save other animals' lives and could save your dog's life, it is easier to see just how important it is. Be warned, you are going to go through a lot of treats during this type of training and you may never completely stop your dog's natural predatory instincts. 

The Replacement Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Plenty of treats
Have plenty of treats like chicken, hot dogs and his favorite doggy treats ready to go.
Step
2
Go for a walk
Take your dog for a walk through the park on a leash or out to see the chickens.
Step
3
Hide a treat
Each time he pulls, hide a treat behind your hand and hold it close enough to his nose for him to smell it.
Step
4
Sit
If he turns to you and comes for the treat, make him sit and stay before you give him the treat.
Step
5
Distract
The smell of the treat should be strong enough to distract him from his prey. In time, he will associate his predatory desires with the ability to get a treat from you instead of killing. Be sure that your dog is relaxed and no longer in the "hunt" mode before giving him the treat, to further enhance his desire to behave.
Recommend training method?

The Challenge Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
You need a toy
First, you will need a toy or treat ball for your dog to search for.
Step
2
Play with your pup
Start by playing with your dog and the toy or treat ball until he gets used to it and starts to seek it out.
Step
3
Play hide and seek
Now you get to play a game with your pup, the game of hide and seek.
Step
4
Hide the treat
Hide the toy or treat ball and encourage your pup to find it.
Step
5
Progressively harder
Make each time you hide progressively more challenging for your dog, he will love the game. Your dog uses his nose as his greatest hunting tool, he can smell the faintest scent and playing like this is a great way to make him use this tool. Bear in mind, teaching your pup to play like this can take a lot of time and effort, but it does work. Hide and seek is a great game and one you should continue playing with him for the rest of his life.
Recommend training method?

The Single Command Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Clip his leash
Clip your dog on his leash and head out to where the animals he tends to chase are.
Step
2
Use the 'stop' command
Each time he attempts to take off, use the command "stop".
Step
3
Don't pull him back
Even if he reaches the end of the leash, don't pull him back, just stop his forward progress.
Step
4
Use the 'come' command
Command him to 'come' and when he does, give him a treat and plenty of praise.
Step
5
He will learn
In time, he will learn to stop and return on command for the treats.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
Kimber
Rottweiler
7 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Kimber
Rottweiler
7 Months

She has recently killed 3 of our chickens and has turned aggressive toward our goats. She doesn't chase them. More of a target of opportunity attack. Any advice on how to handle this would be helpful. She is a very sweet natured animal. Thanks.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
134 Dog owners recommended

Hi there. This is something that with some time and patience, can be turned around. Your dog needs to learn that the chickens are just a normal part of the household. So we need to teach er to become less excited by the chickens. If you are up for this, it is going to take about a month of consistent practice before you see results. You will want to start out by teaching her "leave it". Leave is great for anything you want your dog to leave alone. Instructions on leave it will be at the end of this response. After about a week or so of working on the command, you can start taking her out on leash.Any time she even looks at a chicken, you give the command leave it. Once she breaks her attention away from the chicken, you reward her with a treat. Ideally, you want to her to be sitting and looking at you. But in the beginning stages, as long as she isn't focused on the chicken, you can reward her. You will literally practice this over and over, while moving closer to the chickens until she is no longer interested in the chickens. While this method takes a while, it is the best in relaying the messages across to your dog. The chickens need to be left alone! Here are the steps for "leave it" Teaching a dog 'leave it' Teaching “leave it” is not difficult. Begin the lessons inside your home or in an area with very few distractions. Here are the steps for teaching “leave it”: Make sure you have two different types of treats. One type can be fairly boring to the dog, but the other type should be a high-value treat that he finds pretty delicious. You will also want to make sure that the treats are broken up into pea-sized pieces so it won’t take him too long to eat them. Put one type of treat in each hand. If you like to train with a clicker as your marker, you can also hold a clicker in the same hand that holds the high-value treat. Then, place both of your hands behind your back. Make a fist with the hand that is holding the treat of lower value and present your fist to your dog, letting him sniff. Say “leave it” and wait until he finishes sniffing your fist. As soon as your dog is done sniffing, you can either click with the clicker or say “yes.” Then offer him the higher-value treat in your other hand. Repeat until your dog immediately stops sniffing your hand when you say “leave it.” When you say “leave it” and he stops sniffing right away, leash your dog and then toss a low-value treat outside of his reach. Wait until he stops sniffing and pulling toward the treat. As soon as he does, either say “yes” or click and then give him a high-value treat from your hand. Practice this exercise a number of times. Over time, by practicing “leave it,” your dog should stop pulling as soon as you give the cue. When rewarding him with a treat, make sure that it is something good, not plain old kibble. By doing so, you are teaching him that asking him to leave some food doesn’t mean he won’t get anything, but that in fact he might get something even more delicious. When your dog is reliably responding to the cue, you can teach him that “leave it” can apply to other things as well, not just food on the floor. Repeat the exercise with five different items that are fairly boring to your dog. After using five different “boring” items, start using slightly more exciting items. You know your dog, so you alone know what items he would consider more interesting, but don’t jump to high-value items right away. To increase his chances of success at learning the cue, you want to work up to high-value items gradually. If Kleenex or a piece of plastic, for instance, would attract your dog on a walk, don’t start with those. Choose the items based on your ultimate goal: Anytime you say “leave it,” you want to be confident that your dog will indeed leave whatever you are asking him to leave. . The reward he receives when he leaves an item can change as well. If your dog has a favorite toy, squeak it and play for a moment when he comes running to you after leaving the other item of interest. Most dogs love interacting with us, so a moment of praise or play with a toy can be just as effective as a treat. Keep it fun Even though you’re practicing “leave it” as a way to keep your dog safe, you want him to see it as a fun game you play. When your dog is proficient at the game in your home, start practicing in a variety of locations with more distractions.

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Question
Sunni
american Weimaraner Australian shepherd mix
26 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Sunni
american Weimaraner Australian shepherd mix
26 Months

She has often been attacking tiny animals such as baby squirrels, chipmunks, and baby birds.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
708 Dog owners recommended

Mookie, For that behavior you will either need to find a way to limit the number of small animals in the yard, or teach pup to avoid them, usually using a combination of remote collar training - so pup learns to leave them alone when you are not present also, and rewarding pup doing an alternative behavior instead when they see small animals - like coming to you to receive a treat instead of chasing for example. Check out the videos linked below for examples of remote collar training to teach avoidance of other animals. I also recommend hiring a professional trainer who specializes in behavior issues, has experience with "working level" collar training, and uses positive reinforcement too, and not only corrections. 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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