How to Train Your Dog to Not Kill Animals

How to Train Your Dog to Not Kill Animals
Hard difficulty iconHard
Time icon3-6 Months
Behavior training category iconBehavior

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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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The Replacement Method

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1

Plenty of treats

Have plenty of treats like chicken, hot dogs and his favorite doggy treats ready to go.

2

Go for a walk

Take your dog for a walk through the park on a leash or out to see the chickens.

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.

4

Sit

If he turns to you and comes for the treat, make him sit and stay before you give him the treat.

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.

The Challenge Method

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You need a toy

First, you will need a toy or treat ball for your dog to search for.

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.

3

Play hide and seek

Now you get to play a game with your pup, the game of hide and seek.

4

Hide the treat

Hide the toy or treat ball and encourage your pup to find it.

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.

The Single Command Method

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Clip his leash

Clip your dog on his leash and head out to where the animals he tends to chase are.

2

Use the 'stop' command

Each time he attempts to take off, use the command "stop".

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.

4

Use the 'come' command

Command him to 'come' and when he does, give him a treat and plenty of praise.

5

He will learn

In time, he will learn to stop and return on command for the treats.

By PB Getz

Published: 02/02/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Sasha

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Husky

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4 Years

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He has been taking off through the invisible fence for hours and last night he killed 7 sheep at the neighbors farm. Now he is chained all day. We will start putting him on a leash to go to the bathroom and walking him to exercise him. -I'm not happy that we can't trust him in our yard. What do we do?

Feb. 2, 2022

Sasha's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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Hello, First, I would address the livestock chasing and killing itself. I recommend hiring a professional trainer with experience in this area to help you if you can find one with that experience local to you. 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 livestock. 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 Second, I would reinforce your property fencing. An invisible fence is not a good containment system for dogs who are especially prone to wander or highly prey driven often. The fence will correct pup when they initially cross, but most dogs just learn to brace for that and bolt through. Once they are far enough away they have learned that the system will stop correcting. Sometimes this is learned because the electric collar is left off pup too often, or because when they were first corrected they didn't know how to stop that correction, so they just bolted further away rather than returning to the "safe" yard to stop the correction. Often this training is left off with most invisible fences, and the use a long training leash to guide pup back into the fence is needed to show pup how to get the correction to stop by coming back into the safe yard. At this point, my opinion is that a physical fence needs to be put in place. The electric fence can be left in place too, but a physical fence needs to be put right outside of where the electrical fence is, even if that means fencing in only a smaller area of the yard than before. A dog who is prone to this type of behavior often needs a physical fence - like a wooden fence, with an electric fence also in place two feet inside of the physical fence line, so pup is deterred from even approaching that physical fence to attempt to climb or dig, but because the physical fence is in place, pup can't just bolt through the invisible fence either. Pup can probably be taught to stay inside your yard with just a remote training collar when you are present, but I would install a physical fence if you want pup to be able to be in the yard without you present. Addressing the livestock chasing behavior itself should decrease pup's motivation to leave the yard too, and make things safer if pup were to get out, but pup is probably leaving the yard for additional reasons, and Husky's are especially prone to escaping and wandering due to a desire to roam and their prey drive. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Feb. 7, 2022

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Boston

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Standard Poodle

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3 Months

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We will be visiting a family farm soon and hopefully moving in! I just got this little rascal and would love to keep him hopefully I can train him not to chase any of the farm animals. I have a rabbit and he has chased her so just any tips and pointers on how to nip it in the bud before it gets too crazy

Oct. 20, 2021

Boston's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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Hello Kiana, For a puppy who is likely chasing for the fun of it at this age, I would simply start with obedience commands, teaching impulse control, and training exercises like the below. Mild cat issue - teaching impulse control: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWF2Ohik8iM Moderate cat issue - teaching impulse control using corrections and rewards: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dPIC3Jtn0E Work on impulse control in general with pup, by teaching things that increase impulse control and calmness - such as a long, Place command around lots of distractions. Practicing the command until you get to the point where pup will stay on Place while you are working with animal animal like a bunny in the same room or garden. You can also back tie pup while they are on place - connecting a long leash attached to pup to something near the Place just in case pup were to try to get off Place before you could intervene. This keeps the other animal safe while practicing and reinforces to pup that they can't get off the Place. The leash should be long enough that pup doesn't feel the leash while they are obediently staying on the Place because it has some slack in the leash. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo I would also purchase a 20-30 foot training leash and padded back clip harness and practice commands like Come, Leave It, and Out, on the long training leash around other animal (with the other animals behind a fence where they can't hurt pup either). Reward pup for obeying your commands, and tell pup "Ah Ah" and reel pup in with the leash if they don't obey. The long leash helps to teach pup that they still have to obey even when they feel like they aren't on a leash and far from you. I like to eventually transition to a super lightweight 40 foot leash once pup is completely reliable on the normal 20-30 foot leash, to give that final step between on leash feeling and truly off leash. Below are some other commands in general you can practice to help pup develop better impulse skill/self-control - impulse control takes practice for a dog to gain the ability to control herself. Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Leave It: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Out - which means leave the room: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Come https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-to-come-when-called/ I also recommend checking out James Penrith from taketheleaddogtraining on youtube. He is a trainer who specializes in off-leash obedience and livestock chasing behaviors. He has a lot of videos working with young dogs who just need better obedience and impulse control to gain off-leash reliability, and videos working with more extreme cases, where the dogs have a known history of livestock chasing and killing. I would start with his gentler, younger dog videos, laying a good foundation of obedience and impulse control. If you start early, you will likely only need that. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Oct. 20, 2021


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