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 Restrain Method

Effective
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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.
Step
2
Pull back
When he starts to show any type of aggression towards the chickens, stop praising him immediately.
Step
3
Stop him in his tracks
If his body language indicates he is preparing to lunge, give him the "sit" and "drop" commands. If necessary, use the leash to 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 Proximity Method

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Proximity method for Not Kill Chickens
Step
1
Get close
Take your dog out near the chickens on a leash while 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’, ‘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 him off-leash. Tons of praise for getting it right.
Step
4
Step back if necessary
If he fails, go back to the on-leash training program for a few days. Then try again.
Step
5
Increase duration
Slowly increase the amount of time under supervision he 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 caged or penned chickens.
Step
2
Find a sweet spot
Move him 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 mouth to make a noise. If he 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.
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.
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
329 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
329 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
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
329 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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