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

ribbon-method-1
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

ribbon-method-2
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

ribbon-method-3
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

Question
Slim
Pit bull
4 Years
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Question
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Slim
Pit bull
4 Years

He is also nurtured fyi. He is a great dog listens great.Slim shows some aggression towards the pigs we have just purchased.He has killed three hens.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
945 Dog owners recommended

Hello Michael, First, I would start by not letting pup off leash outside when you are not around at this point. I would crate train pup so pup can stay inside when you aren't around also, if pup isn't ready for freedom in the home yet at this age. Pitbulls are generally not instinctual guard dogs of other animals, so if you are leaving them outside with the animals in hopes of having them guard, you may also need to change those expectations also. Most dogs can however, be taught to leave other animals alone, and Pitbulls often are instinctually protective of people once older - just not other prey animals. Crate Training: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate I would teach pup the Leave It and Out commands. Leave It section of this article: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-not-to-chew/ Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ I would purchase long training leashes, 20 foot to 40 foot long, and practice pup's come, Leave It, and Out commands (once those commands have been taught) with the pigs or other animals in the background, but not where pups can reach them completely while on leash. Reward pup for completely ignoring the other animals and obeying your commands. 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 pigs, ect... Whether this is doable will depend on your level of dedication, willingness to learn, and how large the space pup is in with the other animals around. If they are in tight quarters with the pigs, like a very small yard, it's going to be very hard for them to avoid the other animals. In a larger space, where pup can move away from the other animals easily, to Leave It, this becomes a lot easier for the pup's to succeed. 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 Check out these videos also, of some up close training between a predatory animal and an animal the dog considers prey. These videos are of cats, but the training is generally the same around other animals. You will just need additional safety measures to ensure you and pup are also safe around a larger farm animal, like the pigs, while training. I would practice this on the other side of a fence from the pigs and not in their enclosure. 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 Severe cat issue: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MLJV5PBh7Y More e-collar work with cats with the same dog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8lkbX0dhT0 Fitting and introduction: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cl3V8vYobM Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Rio
Karakachan Bulgarian Shepherd
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Rio
Karakachan Bulgarian Shepherd
1 Year

We live on a farm and Rio is fairly well behaved but goes crazy and absolutely does not listen when he sees any of the other animals walking around. We want him to not chase/hurt the others.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
945 Dog owners recommended

Hello Sherry, Check out James Penrith from TaketheLeadDogTraining. He has a Youtube channel. He works with dogs that chase and sometimes will kill livestock. In addition with his livestock chasing work, he also has a lot of videos on working up to off-leash obedience in general. Off leash obedience is something you will want to progress to with pup in order to have reliability around the farm animals eventually. It will take time and dedication to teach though, since any high level obedience requires repetition. 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 Also, check out this video on building impulse control to help with prey drive. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=buaZctWLWR0 Come: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-to-come-when-called/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Oroe
Brittany (Spaniel)
3 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Oroe
Brittany (Spaniel)
3 Years

She was a stray and used to hunt and I have birds and rabbits and she killed a rabbit form me and I want to teach her not to kill anymore

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
945 Dog owners recommended

Hello Mikah, You would need to teach an avoidance of the types of animals she skills if the behavior is happening when you are not there. If you are there, I would work on a reliable Leave It on a long training leash. Leave It section: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-not-to-chew/ For off leash reliability when you are not present, check out James Penrith from take the lead dog training, and his work with livestock chasing and killing dogs. 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
Blu
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
3 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Blu
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
3 Years

My dog kills other dogs and bit my toddler.

How can I teach him not to kill?

If he kills my kid, am I at fault?

I want him to have the best life

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

Hi. Because of the severity of this issue, it is wise to consult with a trainer in your area who can help you. Your dog likely has some severe aggression issues that need to be corrected by a professional.

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Question
Kokomo & Patch
border collie cross
3 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Kokomo & Patch
border collie cross
3 Years

Photo is of patch (unknown breed) Koko is her sister definitely shows hearding traits and is a black version of patch. These two girls aren't mine but live on my property. Since being back I have noticed these animals don't have any basic training. They don't even know their own names. I am planning to start training with them throughout the weekends as a new cat has moved in and they're known for killing cats and any prey that entre the property. They spend one day in a kennel, one day out (alternatively as apparently they fight for dominance when out together and cause lots of mischief) their owner has no education on training and is elderly. He believes kennels is the way however I hate the idea - but it works. What would you suggest in a situation such as this. I have education on basic training skills and using food as a motivator but following on to the animals, how should I approach this and how should we try introduce the new cat?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
945 Dog owners recommended

Hello Sophie, Since they are not your dogs this will very much depend on what their owner is willing to do. Confining them in a fence or indoors may be the owner's best route to keep the cat safe if she is not willing or able to train, or keeping the cat in your home. 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 she would need to pursue training like that, preferably with the help of a trainer with experience in this area, creating a strong avoidance of all cats. 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 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 Severe cat issue: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MLJV5PBh7Y Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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