Picture this: you're out on a walk with your favorite fur buddy. The two of you hit the trails through a peaceful forest. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping; all is well in the world. The trails lead you to a serene pond. You hear faint quacks in the distance. Oh no. Your heart sinks. You go to grasp your pooch’s collar but it's too late!
As he bounds back with his fresh kill, your dog is probably wondering why you are so upset. After all, he did just bring you back some delicious dinner, at least in his eyes. But owning a bird-killer can be no fun at all. The problem becomes even worse if you live on a farm, and the birds being murdered are yours!
Dogs kill birds because of their instincts. Birds make a great meal, and the urge to hunt (which is thousands of years old) doesn't just disappear because now Rover gets a bowl of meat cereal. Some dogs have even been bred specifically to catch birds and bring them back, like Labrador Retrievers.
Prey drive is not a bad thing on its own. Some people use their dog's keen skills for shows or hunting trips. But if you're losing many a bird to foul play, you may want to learn how to at least curb this natural habit. Be warned, some dogs will never fully give up this instinct and will require supervision around our feathered friends for their whole lives.
To embark on your bird-saving journey, it's good to be prepared. Having the following should help:
If your dog is indeed excellent at catching birds, it's a shame to waste such a sought out skill. You might want to look into local hunting clubs to learn about training for hunting dogs. Your pooch will love you for it and it's a great way to bond.
Below are some methods to try to take the killer out of your canine. Remember, even after lots of training, you should never leave your dog unattended with any small animal.
I have cockatiels, soon getting a conure. Usually I have to keep him in his crate to have the birds out. One time he wasn't in the crate and got a bird. I need to be able to teach him to NOT go after the birds. I am trying the look at, but don't try touch, with safe box around bird, aka bird carrier. Thus far...no good. He lunges, bites me for getting in his way. Not that I let him get away with that. He gets put onto the floor and hand over neck in firm but not choking manor. Thing is this doesn't stop him. Or discourage him at all. Any ideas?
Hello Karen, I suggest teaching a strong avoidance of the birds the way someone would teach livestock avoidance, in your case. Continue to separate the animals in general, but work on teaching an avoidance of the birds as a back up - in case he were to get out again. Hire a trainer who is very experienced with remote collar training, aggression, and prey drive to help you. This needs to be done very carefully to avoid being bitten (which is a redirection of aggression and his arousal since you are close and preventing him from accessing the birds). You need professional training. 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
Jack, you are not alone, my terrier just killed my rosey borke. I really want to get a conure next, but am scared he will do the same thing. We have contacted some trainers and hopefully that will improve our chances of bringing another bird into our home on day.
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