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

ribbon-method-1
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 Restrain Method

ribbon-method-3
Effective
1 Vote
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?

The Distance Training Method

ribbon-method-2
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?
author-img

Written by Amy Caldwell

Published: 10/24/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Emma
pitbull
4 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Emma
pitbull
4 Months

Hello.i heave rescued 2 puppies pitbull they are 4 months old. Emma and bully.i had a flock of about 14 ducks and in two nights they heave redused them to 6.they heave killed them and eaten some parts of them.i need help training or teaching them if i want to save the pups. What a sad day for our family. The pups are well loved and also the ducks. We heave a "petting zootheme" stay here. And the ducks were also verry tame.
Pls can someone help me out with sime ideas or training methods?
Kind regards.
Edgar.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Edgar, First, I would start by not letting the pups off leash outside when you are not around at this point. I would crate train both pups and have them sleep inside in crates at night. Pitbulls are generally not instinctual guard dogs of other animals, so if you are leaving them outside with the ducks overnight in hopes of having them guard, you may also need to change those expectations. 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 both pups 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 pups' come, Leave It, and Out commands (once those commands have been taught) with the ducks in the background, but not where pups can reach them completely while on leash. Reward pups completely ignoring the ducks and obeying your commands. Are the ducks free range or in a fence or enclosure area? If they are in an enclosure area that the pups are breaking into, I would set up a pet barrier device made for outdoor use, have the puppies wear the corresponding collars, and set the range to include the duck enclosure, so pup's are corrected anytime they go too close to the duck's enclosure, even when you are not there. If the ducks are free range pups will need to never be left alone with the ducks for quite a while to ensure they are thoroughly trained for a few months first. 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 ducks. Whether this is doable will depend on your level of dedication, willingness to learn, and how large the space the pups are in with the duck around. If they are in tight quarters with the ducks, like a very small yard, it's going to be very hard for the pups to avoid the ducks. In a larger space, where pups can move away from the ducks easily, this becomes a lot easier for the puppies 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 any small prey like animal for the dog. 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 I normally don't recommend the use of remote training collars until at least six months of age, but when the behavior is extreme and the risk of the dog being re-homed or worse is very real, then it can be necessary. Hello Edgar, First, I would start by not letting the pups off leash outside when you are not around at this point. I would crate train both pups and have them sleep inside in crates at night. Pitbulls are generally not instinctual guard dogs of other animals, so if you are leaving them outside with the ducks overnight in hopes of having them guard, you may also need to change those expectations. 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 both pups 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 pups' come, Leave It, and Out commands (once those commands have been taught) with the ducks in the background, but not where pups can reach them completely while on leash. Reward pups completely ignoring the ducks and obeying your commands. Are the ducks free range or in a fence or enclosure area? If they are in an enclosure area that the pups are breaking into, I would set up a pet barrier device made for outdoor use, have the puppies wear the corresponding collars, and set the range to include the duck enclosure, so pup's are corrected anytime they go too close to the duck's enclosure, even when you are not there. If the ducks are free range pups will need to never be left alone with the ducks for quite a while to ensure they are thoroughly trained for a few months first. 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 ducks. Whether this is doable will depend on your level of dedication, willingness to learn, and how large the space the pups are in with the duck around. If they are in tight quarters with the ducks, like a very small yard, it's going to be very hard for the pups to avoid the ducks. In a larger space, where pups can move away from the ducks easily, this becomes a lot easier for the puppies 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 any small prey like animal for the dog. 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 I normally don't recommend the use of remote training collars until at least six months of age, but when the behavior is extreme and the risk of the dog being re-homed or worse is very real, then it can be necessary at times if you find the initial training without it isn't effective enough. With puppies you can often train without it, but you will have to evaluate and see how they are responding without. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cl3V8vYobM Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Emma's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Parker
Husky Jack
5 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Parker
Husky Jack
5 Months

We have chickens and ducks that roam free on my parents property. He has already killed a hen and a duck. We all work during the day and I do not want to pen him in his tiny cage. We will have 19 more baby chicks and ducks in 3 weeks. We need him to stop killing our birds. Help!

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

i there. I am going to send you information on how to teach your dog to be less excited by the chickens. This is something that with some time and patience, can be turned around. Your dogs need to learn that the animals are just a normal part of the household. So we need to teach her to become less excited by the animals. 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 her out on leash.Any time she even looks at a animal, you give the command leave it. Once she breaks his attention away from the animal, 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 animal, you can reward her. You will literally practice this over and over, while moving closer to the animals until she is no longer interested in them. While this method takes a while, it is the best in relaying the messages across to your dogs. The animals 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.

Add a comment to Parker's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Cuny
Miniature Pinscher
3 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Cuny
Miniature Pinscher
3 Years

When she was 2 she saw chickens for the first time and she already started chasing after it. She already killed 2 chicks, The first one was a year ago when she wants to go for a walk I was convinced that she would behave but when she saw the chick she went running after it, when we saw her stopped she already killed the chick and it’s still in her mouth my nephew was the one who pulled it out but she is aggressive and won’t let it go. The second one was just a while ago I let go of her leash so she can roam around to find her spot but when she saw the ducks she went running again and I can’t chase her because she is very tiny and also fast when she calmed down I was about to hold onto her leash but then she saw the chick this time and she did the same thing as the first one she won’t let go of the chick, when I managed to get it out of her mouth the chick is still alive but it became really weak and slowly died I called my brother to tell him what just happened and he said that I let her be but she still tried to get near the chick and got a grip on the wings then my brother started slapping her mouth to teach her a lesson that she should stop chasing/killing chickens but I told him to stop because she was already so afraid and dropped the chick, when we’re about to go back home she saw the duck again and tried to get near it like nothing happened she wasn’t afraid to be punished but I pulled the leash and picked her up. She always wants to go inside the farm but we always stop her that’s why she only killed the ones who are loose. I just started training her about the basics and she did well but I want to teach her not to chase and/or kill chickens anymore because our neighbors also have chickens, I’m afraid that she might kill one of theirs.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Queen, First, I suggest teaching a solid Leave It command to pup. Teach the Leave It command using the Leave It method from the article linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Second, teach pup a structured heel - practice away from birds at first. Check out the article linked below Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Check out this video on teaching self-control: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=buaZctWLWR0 Since it sounds like pup may live in a rural area where they are off leash and doing the behavior. Keep pup leashed at all times while outside while doing the initial on-leash training. When pup can handle leaving birds alone while on leash, then check out the videos linked below for how to teach a dog to avoid livestock and foil while off-leash also (which is a similar prey or herding drive behind the behavior, so actually addressed very similarly to car chasing off-leash). Teach pup to avoid chickens in general, using such training, even with you not around. Since you will have spent the time doing the on-leash training first, pup should better understand the off-leash (or long leash at first) part of the training as you progress to that part of it. The on leash needs to be done first though. 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

Add a comment to Cuny's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Mark
Corgi
8 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Mark
Corgi
8 Months

She has 10 acres to run on. She doesn’t seem interested in hanging out near the chicken coop. She doesn’t show any aggression towards them.
Even when the chickens accasionally get out of their coop, she doesn’t run towards them. But every few weeks she randomly attacks one out of nowhere. She doesn’t even kill it. Just hurts it enough to the point where we have to put her down.... what do I do

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Brigid, It may be a chicken running that's leading to the attack. I would teach pup to generally avoid the birds at all times, but I would also practice Leave It with pup on a long leash and have another person get a bird running. Practice having pup leave the bird alone when it runs. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Mark's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Remmington
German Wirehaired Pointer
7 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Remmington
German Wirehaired Pointer
7 Months

I am having trouble keeping Remi from attacking chickens at my farm when I am not around him. If I am near the animals he leaves them alone but today he went and brought me a now third dead chicken from our coop.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Joshua, 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 chickens. 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 this will be harder to train. 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 Examples of teaching similar avoidance with cats: 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 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. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Below are some other commands in general you can practice to help pup develop better impulse skill/self-control. Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel 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/ For e-collar training I do generally recommend hiring a professional trainer who specializes in behavior issues and has experience to help you in person. It's very important to learn about fitting, using the proper stimulation level (called a working level) for your particular dog, using the collar correctly during training so that the dog understands what you do and do not want them to do, and not just correcting the dog without prior training and building of self-control also with rewards, and using a high quality collar that's consistent, has a huge range of levels, with low level stimulation options, such as Garmin, E-collar technologies, or Dogtra. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Remmington's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Book me a walkiee?
Pweeeze!
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd