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

Most Recommended
1 Vote
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 and Success Stories

Question
Fion
Husky lab
5 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Fion
Husky lab
5 Years

Fiona desperately wants to hunt our chickens, ducks, and guinea fowl. Even when i a. Holding them and making it clear they are on the same level as she is.

We've been practicing restraint and leave it, but I feel like we've made basically no progress. She and my other dog lobo, have killed 4 chickens.

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 her 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
hope
Unknown
4 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
hope
Unknown
4 Years

please help i have a rescue dog named hope. she came from a abusive home were too teenage boys covered her in deasil and set her on fire. so my friend how owns a small dog rescue asked if i could take her because she was bullied by the other dogs me being a giant sucker said yes. unfortunately i didn't take into account that my chickens may be her new chew toys sigh . I've been working on her for 2 months but she still is not getting don't eat the chickens . am i doing something rough? I've been trying to teach her the distance method do i need to try something else ?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
708 Dog owners recommended

Hello Sarah, Check out the two videos below of teaching a dog to leave cats alone, so you can visualize desensitizing to animals. 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 For many dogs, the above type training is enough, but for some dogs with a strong prey drive, a form of correction is also needed in combination with the above training you have been working on (but not in place of). If the behavior is happening when you aren't around too, you will need to use a remote collar for training. Another option is to enclose the chickens so there is a physical barrier between pup and the chickens, like chicken wire so you can move their enclosure as needed, and to use a pet barrier device, set in the middle of wherever the chickens are, and set to a range that includes their whole area (whatever the size of the enclose is but not more than that, so that pup learns to stay back from the enclosure, since the corresponding collar they wear works similarly to an electric fence collar, correcting pup automatically when they get too close to the device (where the chickens are), to teach pup to avoid the birds. For more information about e-collar training and livestock, check out James Penrith's youtube channel, or look for a trainer who has such experience in your area. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgNbWCK9lFc Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Gerti
Meremma & Great Pyrenees
5 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Gerti
Meremma & Great Pyrenees
5 Months

She was raised with chickens until 16 weeks at the breeders home. I brought her home and she only went to my chickens when I was with her for a week or so and then I would let her out with chickens and she has been perfect (when I was off property and could not watch I put her in Kennel) so on 2 different brisk mornings she went for a chicken as they came out of their coops for the day. I immediatly got onto her and redirected. But the 3rd brisk day she went after one when I was not out their and ripped feathers out and left an abraision on hen, did not kill it.Now I am afraid to leave her alone with chickens but hate to put her in kennel all day so I do not know how to procede. We have been doing training out with the chickens and she never seems to have any interest in them so I am confused. I did start letting her out in another area with my large dogs to run off energy before going over to the coop. How would you recommend I procede.
I am so greatful for any and all advice you can give me. I want to succeed as an LGD owner and I want her to succeed as an LGd.
Thank you

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
708 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kathy, First, pup needs to not be left alone with the chickens until they are an adult and past the puppy chewing and destructive periods - usually 1-2 years. This is a bit different than with larger animals like sheep, since a pup trying to play with a bird could accidently kill it and teach the dog that game, or the running of a bird trigger prey drive in a playful pup. When with pup, if they show any unwanted interest in the birds, like nipping, barking, licking, or being too rough, that needs to be discouraged - how you discourage will depend on how sensitive pup is. If you don't have another area pup can stay in while you are away, away from the chickens, then pup will need to be crated while you are gone. Just be sure pup is getting enough mental and physical exercise when you can supervise them with the chickens when you are home, since they will be cooped up a lot. Personally, I would use some cheap fencing to section off part of the yard within the main yard for pup, where they can see but not get to the chickens while you are away. Don't expect pup to guard yet, socializing them with the birds while avoiding aggression toward the birds is the main goal right now. Many LGd don't bond with birds the same way they do with larger livestock like sheep. There are exceptions but birds are often guarded as part of the overall territory and pup simply wanting to keep intruders out of the territory - and having been taught to ignore and leave birds alone. Opposed to sheep, which are guarded as family. There are exceptions though where some might view birds as family, but they are likely exceptions. There are also several forums and Facebook LGd groups where you may want to connect with others who have done this work for many years, as questions come up for additional support. https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/my-lgd-great-pyr-killed-chicken.837632/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Rober and Lexi
Blue Heeler
3 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Rober and Lexi
Blue Heeler
3 Months

we have chickens lose on our property and they just keep killing the smaller ones but they don't eat them. SO WHAT should i do?

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 dogs need to learn that the chickens are just a normal part of the household. So we need to teach them 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 him "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 him out on leash.Any time the even looks at a chicken, you give the command leave it. Once he breaks his attention away from the chicken, you reward him with a treat. Ideally, you want to him to be sitting and looking at you. But in the beginning stages, as long as he isn't focused on the chicken, you can reward him. You will literally practice this over and over, while moving closer to the chickens until he is no longer interested in the chickens. While this method takes a while, it is the best in relaying the messages across to your dogs. 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
Rue
Pit bull/ bull mastiff mix
6 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Rue
Pit bull/ bull mastiff mix
6 Months

My chickens are outside,loose to roam. She goes into the woods & kills.

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. Rue needs to learn that the chickens are just a normal part of the household. So we need to teach her 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 him out on leash.Any time the even looks at a chicken, you give the command leave it. Once he breaks his attention away from the chicken, you reward him with a treat. Ideally, you want to him to be sitting and looking at you. But in the beginning stages, as long as he isn't focused on the chicken, you can reward him. You will literally practice this over and over, while moving closer to the chickens until he is no longer interested in the chickens. While this method takes a while, it is the best in relaying the messages across to your dogs. 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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