How to Train Your Dog to Not Kill Chickens

Hard
1-8 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

Does your dog chase your chickens? Has he managed to slim down your flock of chickens or, worse yet, your neighbor’s flock? While dogs are predatory by nature for survival, this trait is not a behavior that most of us want to see in our dogs. One thing that many people fail to consider when they choose a particular breed to add to their family is that some breeds are more predatory than others and some were bred specifically to hunt certain animals.

While you cannot take away your dog's inherent desire to hunt and kill, with the right training, you can teach him to stick to eating out of his bowl and maybe just hanging out with the chickens. You never know, they might even let him become an honorary flock member. With training like this, the sooner you start, the easier it will be to train your pup to behave.

Defining Tasks

You can use your choice of commands as you train your dog to stop killing chickens, but no matter which command you decide to use, be sure you use the same one every time. At the same time, be prepared for this training to take some time depending on the breed of your dog. Some breeds are far more connected to their survival than others. While puppies tend to learn more quickly, with patience, you can teach any age dog to stop killing chickens or any other animal. This can help save your flock from becoming fast food as they run across the yard.

Getting Started

What you are likely to need to train your dog not to kill chickens will to a certain extent depend on the training method. However, you will need plenty of your dog's favorite treats, a leash, and tons of patience. Remember, you are trying to train your dog not to do something that is among his basest instincts, the desire to survive.

While it would be nice to train your dog not to kill chickens in a quiet atmosphere, most of his training is going to take place around your flock of noisy chickens. However, you do need to keep others (like the kids) away while you are working with your pup as they might prove to be too much of a distraction. No matter which command you will be using to train your dog to leave the chickens alone, be sure to use a firm "no nonsense" voice so that your dog knows you mean business.

The Proximity Method

Effective
0 Votes
Proximity method for Not Kill Chickens
Step
1
Get close
While on a leash, take your dog out near the chickens when you are doing your chores. You can tie his leash to a post if needed. When he calms down, heap tons of praise on him, and of course, a treat!
Step
2
Occupy with commands
Once he has become used to the chickens, try working him through several basic commands like ‘sit’, ‘leave it’, and ‘down’. Watch him for signs he is no longer paying attention to the chickens.
Step
3
Lose the leash
Once this behavior has gone on for several weeks, try working with your well-behaved dog off-leash. Heap tons of praise for getting it right.
Step
4
Step back if necessary
If your dog fails, go back to the on-leash training program for a few days. Then try again. Remember, this is not an overnight exercise.
Step
5
Increase duration
Slowly increase the amount of time under supervision your dog is off-leash until he has learned to be around the chickens without dinner on his mind.
Recommend training method?

The Distance Training Method

Effective
0 Votes
Distance Training method for Not Kill Chickens
Step
1
Get close
Walk your pup on a leash towards the caged or penned chickens. On the way there, practice his heel and sit commands. Start, stop for command, and move forward.
Step
2
Find a sweet spot
Move your dog to the point at which he first starts to react to the chickens and then move back to determine the distance at which he no longer reacts (this could take several attempts).
Step
3
Distract
Once you have the distance down, use a training clicker or your voice to make a noise. If your four-legged companion turns and looks at you, give him loads of praise and a nice treat.
Step
4
Close in
Continue closing the distance for several days doing the same thing. Patience, consistency, and following the steps exactly will push your dog toward success.
Step
5
Correct
When your pup gets too close to the cage, give the "leave it!" command and a gentle tug on his leash. Make the noise and reward him when he looks at you. Soon, there will be no reaction to the chickens.
Recommend training method?

The Restrain Method

Effective
0 Votes
Restrain method for Not Kill Chickens
Step
1
On the leash
Clip your pup on his leash and walk him towards the chickens, praising him and petting him. Walk with confidence; if your dog senses you are nervous, he may react.
Step
2
Pull back
When your dog starts to show any type of aggression towards the chickens, stop praising him immediately. Keep a firm hold on the leash.
Step
3
Stop him in his tracks
If your pooch's body language indicates he is preparing to lunge, give him the "sit" and "drop" commands. If necessary, use the leash to slowly lower him to the down position and physically restrain him.
Step
4
Resistance is futile
As soon as your pup complies and relaxes, shower him with praise and give him a nice tasty treat. The positive reinforcement will help speed along the training nicely.
Step
5
Take a play break
Now is a great time to walk your pup away from the chickens and spend at least five minutes playing with him. Repeat this training exercise daily until he can walk up beside a chicken without being fazed.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Amigo
Boarder collie
2 Years
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Question
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Amigo
Boarder collie
2 Years

I know he is killing my chickens but never see him do it or act aggressive toward them.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
614 Dog owners recommended

Hello Sharon, I suggest teaching him a strong avoidance so that he doesn't go near them to begin with. Check out the YouTube channel that I have linked below. That trainer works with clients who are dealing with livestock chasing and killing behaviors. The training that he uses for sheep and cattle can also be applied to chickens as long as your dog has enough space to choose to avoid the chickens, opposed to be confined in the same house with them indoors like other small pets. 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 Find a trainer who is very experienced with e-collar training and can teach the type of training found in those videos. In addition to doing what's called "Working level" training, which is when you use e-collars on the lowest level required to elicit a small response from your dog, such as a scratch or indication of feeling something annoying, and teaching the dog through repetition to get away from something, you will also later need to do what's called "Act of god" training, which is when a higher stimulation is given while no one is present, so that the dog thinks that the stimulation came directly from being close to the chickens and not a person. You train avoidance on a lower level first so that the dog understands that he should leave the chickens around, then when you use a higher stimulation later when you are not present, the dog understands what the correct is for and should learn that the correction will be given whether you are present or not. The higher correction is often needed for killing behaviors but if you do the lower corrections while first teaching this, you will be able to do very few higher corrections because the dog will understand the lesson. That makes the training more gentle and fair to the dog in the long run and also more effective. E-collars are powerful, potentially dangerous tools if not used correctly. They can also be extremely effective and more gentle than other methods if you know what you are doing with them. That is why I highly recommend getting a trainer to teach you in person how to do it effectively and safely. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Bruce
Saint Bernard
12 Weeks
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Question
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Bruce
Saint Bernard
12 Weeks

My dog is 12 weeks, we got him at 7 weeks old. Hes shown interest in the chickens but use to sleep next to them with them and he was fine. Slowly over the course of a week or 2 he started sort of chewing on them softly he was never aggresive to them. Since that was noticed I confined them in their pen but sometimes tend to fly out, but he hasn't show to much interest since we put them in pen about 2 weeks ago even when they have gotten out. However, today within the last 30 mibnutes i went outside to see he had gotten one of them and it had died...im assuming he shook it to death and then started using it as a chew toy as there is only super tiny puncture wounds from his teeth. I have removed the chicken. How do I proceed? Also would you suppose his instinct to hunt them has now increased since he achieved a kill?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
614 Dog owners recommended

Hello Brittany, He was likely trying to play with the bird and like you said shook it and broke it's neck. Since he wasn't tearing into it and eating it, he probably hasn't associated the birds with food, but will try to catch, chase, stalk, and shake them again if he can. He is practicing hunting - even if he doesn't realize it. He needs to learn a strong avoidance of the birds before he views them as prey to be eaten. I suggest purchasing a device that emits a signal out that is received by a collar. When a dog gets too close to that area the device is set up in, the collar gives an electric shock. (Not a dangerous voltage but enough to surprise a dog and be unpleasant to deter them from going near that area. You need to teach him to avoid the chicken coop completely and stop viewing the chickens as fun. You can put the collar on him (it works like an electric fence collar) and put the device he should avoid close to the chicken coop, then adjust the radius of the device's signal to the collar so that it only stimulates his collar if he gets within ten or so feet of the chicken coop, and not when he is further away. You may want to set up chicken wire for the chickens to spend time in by the coop so that he can see the chickens walking around and learn to avoid the actual chickens in addition to the chicken coop. Here is one example of such a deterrent device. https://www.amazon.com/PetSafe-Barriers-Adjustable-Proofing-Stimulation/dp/B002GQFRVI/ref=asc_df_B002GQFRVI/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=198111066934&hvpos=1o1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=1803624092535002102&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=m&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=1015431&hvtargid=pla-545960881152&psc=1 Research different brands and be sure to find one you can use outside even during rain, and one that will let you adjust the range low enough that he is only corrected for getting close to the chickens and not twenty or more feet away. Also, work on teaching him a leave it command and using that when he pays attention to the chickens, to better help him understand that they are off limits. Check out the article that I have linked below and the "Leave It" method to teach the Leave It command. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Cooper
Pomeranian
9 Years
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Question
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Cooper
Pomeranian
9 Years

I have some new week old baby chicks. Our other dog Bradley who is a Bichon and poodle mix has no problem with the baby chicks. He doesn’t care about them. One of the chicks has even tried to hide underneath him looking to be warm and he was completely fine with it. Just a little startled but showed no interest in wanting to eat the chick. Our other dog cooper who is the Pomeranian within moments of seeing the baby chick in my hand tried to bite its head off and now since he’s discovered where the baby chicks are staying he won’t stop sniffing and trying to find away into the baby chicks cage. What should I do! I need some serious help.

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Question
Athena
Labrador Retriever
5 Months
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Question
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Athena
Labrador Retriever
5 Months

My dog recently killed one of our hens even after i scolded her that its bad to chase it and even hit her lightly a couple of times because she chased the hen. When i'm around she makes no attempt to chase the hens or bite them but as soon as i walk off she starts to chase them and bite at them. She opened the door to their pen and beheaded and ate a hen. I don't know what to do and my mother wants to get rid of my dog because she killed her hen. Could you please help me out with my dilemma regarding my dog?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
614 Dog owners recommended

Hello Habiba, I suggest teaching a strong avoidance of the birds the way someone would teach livestock avoidance. Continue to separate the animals in general, but work on teaching an avoidance of the birds as a back up - in case the birds were to get out and to prevent break-ins. Hire a trainer who is very experienced with remote collar training, aggression, and prey drive to help you. Check out the videos linked below for examples of how to teach it. 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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Boti
Anatolian Shepherd
6 Months
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Question
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Boti
Anatolian Shepherd
6 Months

I have an Anatolian Shepherd. We have him as a working dog around our sheep and chickens. He has always been nice to them but lately he has been trying to chew on them. Last night we didn’t notice one was left outside. He killed it and he was eating it this morning when we went to check on the animals. He had shown this behavior before but we’ve corrected it and even put a shock collar on him to shock him when he tried lunging at them. He was doing very well until last night. Should I get rid of him and give him away? Or should I try training him? We’ve tried training a dog that has killed a chicken and we’ve failed. It seems like they cannot forget the taste and they keep doing it. What should I do?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
614 Dog owners recommended

Hello Amy, First, know that each dog is different. Just because you couldn't break your other dog of the killing, doesn't necessarily mean training would fail with this one. E-collars can be a great tool for dealing with this behavior, but how you use the tool is even more important, and being sure to use the tool in a way that actually works with how a dog learns and replaces the killing with an alternative behavior is important. Simply correcting around the chickens without further training to help the dog connect why they are specifically being corrected and to teach pup an alternative behavior that can be rewarded in place - like moving away from the chickens on their own, isn't likely to be effective enough. 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 - so that he can choose to move away from them with the space to do so. I suggest watching James Penrith's videos before deciding whether you are willing to train. I am not the one there observing your dog in person, so unfortunately I cannot make any guarantees that this behavior can be changed, but pup is young, this was an early attempt, and trainers with the right experience and knowledge - like James, do successfully modify this behavior with dogs with a far worse history of livestock killing than you dog has at this time. 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 For further assurance once pup is trained to avoid the chickens, you may want to invest in a pet barrier device, like the one linked below. Avoidance training with the e-collar and long leash would still need to be done, the barrier device would just serve as a long term reminder of training were pup to ever wander near the chicken's enclosure and consider an attempt again. https://www.chewy.com/petsafe-pawz-away-outdoor-pet-barrier/dp/48580 Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Honey
Hunterway x Staffy
2 Years
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Question
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Honey
Hunterway x Staffy
2 Years

My dog will not stop killing chickens and Ducks 🦆 and when she kills it she doesn’t eat it she just leaves it and goes and kills another one what shall I do???

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
614 Dog owners recommended

Hello Daisy, 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 the birds. 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 birds, then the chance for success is lower. If he has plenty of room to go somewhere that they are not located to avoid them, then the training is more feasible. 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 Up close training for tighter quarters when needed - ideally pup won't be that close to the birds though. Severe cat killing issue - also prey drive issue though: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MLJV5PBh7Y More e-collar work with cat as prey animal with the same dog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8lkbX0dhT0 Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Dasher
Collie
9 Months
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Question
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Dasher
Collie
9 Months

I live on a farm and we have chickens and 2 collies now one is 9 months and the other is 10 years and the 9 month old one started trying to eat the chickens out of the blue and we have had him since Christmas and he never done that and he is teaching the other collie to do it so how can i stop them from eating, attacking and killing the chickens

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
65 Dog owners recommended

Hello, you can try the Drop Method with daily practicing at least 10 minutes a dayhttps://wagwalking.com/training/not-attack-chickens but with two dogs you will need perseverance and perhaps some help from other family members too. The best suggestion I can give is to build a large fenced enclosure where the chickens still have the freedom to run but will no longer be a target for the dogs. Dasher may have a strong prey drive, hard to change. You can also try the Critical Distance Method: https://wagwalking.com/training/not-kill-chickens-1. Another option is to hire a trainer to come to the farm and work with the dogs - it may be worth it to save your investment in the chickens. All the best.

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