How to Train Your Dog to Not Attack Chickens

Hard
2-12 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

You’ve always loved the great outdoors. You like being immersed in nature with a variety of animals roaming around your property, from dogs to chickens. But having such a diverse home can come with its own challenges. Does your dog have an appetite for your pet chickens, for example? Do you want to be able to let your chickens and dogs wander around freely, but don’t want to lose another chicken to your canine friend?

Your chickens may be part of your livestock, you may depend on them for eggs and dinners of your own. If you can train your dog not to attack the chickens, you can finally have the harmonious home you envisaged. You will be able to relax when it all goes quiet and not panic whenever you start to do a chicken headcount. Otherwise, your fear is that Chicken Run, the movie, may become chicken run, your reality, and your chickens will become determined to escape.

Defining Tasks

Training your dog not to attack the chickens will require a number of different elements. You will certainly need obedience commands to retain control over him when he is around the chickens. You will also need to take steps to familiarize him with the chickens. 

As you can probably imagine, training him not to attack the feathered members of your yard will be no straightforward task. This task is made even harder if your dog has already developed a taste for chicken, or he is older and stuck in his ways. However, with persistence and patience, you should be able to train him to behave around chickens in a few weeks or months. It is important you succeed in this endeavor if you want to protect the lives of your chickens and possibly any other animals you have on your property.

Getting Started

Before work begins, you will need to round up several things. You may want to get a body harness for training. This will help you retain control and reduce the strain on your dog's neck. A secure leash will also be required Before starting the process, spend a few days cementing your bond with your dog so that he is keen on listening to you.

You will also need an abundance of treats or his favorite food to act as both an incentive and reward. Apart from that, you just need an optimistic attitude and a good degree of patience, then you’re ready to get to work!

The Stop & Pull Method

ribbon-method-1
Most Recommended
3 Votes
Stop & Pull method for Not Attack Chickens
Step
1
Getting ready
Secure your dog to the leash and safely stow your chickens in a coop. Once they are both safe and secure, slowly head over to the chickens.
Step
2
Be vigilant
Keep an eye on your dog's behavior and wait for him to pull or lunge. As soon as he goes for the chickens, say "STOP" loudly and firmly so he knows you mean business.
Step
3
React swiftly
Pull him in the opposite direction and walk away. Ensure you do this at the same time as you say "STOP". He will quickly associate his aggressive behavior with being pulled in the opposite direction and a stern tone from his owner.
Step
4
Small steps
Edge closer to the chickens every few days. Every day you need to take him toward the chickens, following the steps above. After several days or weeks, you will be able to get closer to the chickens before he shows signs of aggression. This is progress. It may be slow, but it was always going to be, so be patient!
Step
5
Lose the leash
When you can walk your dog around the chickens without showing signs of aggression, you can remove the leash. It may take many weeks or months to get to this stage, but when you can finally lose the leash, stay very close to him for the first few leash-free encounters.
Recommend training method?

The Restrain & Reward Method

ribbon-method-3
Effective
3 Votes
Restrain & Reward method for Not Attack Chickens
Step
1
Setting up
Secure your chickens in a pen and put your dog on a leash. Ensure you have firm control over the leash and then prepare to head towards the chickens. A body harness will help you retain control if he is big and strong.
Step
2
Slowly approach
As you are approaching, constantly praise and pet your dog, and even reward him with a treat. You are showing him that this calm behavior around the chickens will prove fruitful.
Step
3
Cut the praise
Stop all praise and rewards as soon as your dog displays signs of aggression. Also stand firmly still until he has calmed down. This will show him that as soon as he changes from passive to aggressive he’ll stop receiving attention and he won’t be able to get any closer.
Step
4
Step by step
You don’t want to rush this process, so take it extremely slow. If you get several feet, reward him and then take him away and play with him for 5 minutes. The next day, go back and try and get several feet closer. The trick is to slowly build familiarity between your dog and the chickens in a steady, controlled manner.
Step
5
Repeat
Repeat this process until you can walk around the chickens without your pooch displaying any signs of aggression. Only after many weeks, you should finally be walking around the chickens with your dog. Once you can walk around them calmly, slowly reduce the frequency of treats. Finally, when he hasn’t shown signs of aggression in many weeks or months, you can take him off the leash.
Recommend training method?

The Drop Method

ribbon-method-2
Least Recommended
1 Vote
Drop method for Not Attack Chickens
Step
1
Get his attention
Take a treat and hold it in front of your dog's nose. You are going to teach him to drop when you command him to. This will increase your control around the chickens so you can quickly get a handle on his behavior until he cuts all signs of aggression.
Step
2
Slowly lure him to the ground
Use the treat to bring your dog's head to the ground. You may also want to gently push his back down to encourage him to begin with.
Step
3
Drop
Say "drop" firmly as he approaches the ground. Then, as soon as your dog is lying down, give him a treat and praise him. It is important you give him the treat within 3 seconds of lying down, otherwise, he won’t associate the 'drop' with the treat. Practice this every day for 10-15 minutes until he drops when you instruct him to, without the promise of food.
Step
4
Head for the chickens
Walk slowly, giving him verbal and physical attention as you approach. Then as soon as your dog shows signs of aggression, stop and have him drop to the floor. As soon as he does this, reward him with a treat and praise. Removing the positive stimuli of you giving him attention is known as positive punishment and he will quickly respond to it.
Step
5
10 minutes daily practice
Slowly make your way closer to the chickens, ensuring you have your pup drop whenever he turns aggressive and see to it you always praise him up until the point his behavior changes. Over many weeks, he will begin to understand he gets zero attention as soon as he turns aggressive. When he is finally comfortable around the chickens, you can reduce the frequency of treats and remove the leash.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Maxy
German shepherd workliner
4 Months
0 found helpful
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Maxy
German shepherd workliner
4 Months

He is eating chikens and chasaing them

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Question
Harley
Mix
1 Year
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Question
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Harley
Mix
1 Year

My dog keeps going after the chickens we have done some training with her but nothing seems to get her attention

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1115 Dog owners recommended

Hello Colleen, Are the chickens free range or protected by a barrier pup is getting through that keeps them in? If they are protected by a barrier, like chicken fencing and a coop, then I would purchase a pet barrier device that can be set to a radius as big as the chicken area, to reinforce pup not going near their area. Example: https://www.chewy.com/petsafe-pawz-away-outdoor-pet-barrier/dp/48581?utm_source=google-product&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=12650410038&utm_content=PetSafe&utm_term=&gclid=CjwKCAjw7vuUBhBUEiwAEdu2pOjYXza6uBD-P_lqPetdCgI0VbtFgqLPvJlJtr7_dQvKuu6fdx_H2BoClO0QAvD_BwE If the chickens are free range, 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 chickens. 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 Below are some additional exercises you can practice, to work on pup's obedience and impulse control around the chickens. These videos feature a dog with cat chasing issues, but the prey drive and general training is very similar to what you would do with birds, so you can at least see the progression. The level of training (mild, moderate, severe) depends a lot on pup's behavior around the chickens and level of prey drive - if pup is just chasing the birds for a bit of fun but hasn't harmed any and isn't trying to hunt or kill them you may not need the training to be as intense. You may just need to work on some impulse control, like the mild cat issue video and moderate cat issue video, especially if the birds are contained. 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 Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Roxy
German Shepherd
5 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Roxy
German Shepherd
5 Months

Roxy has been chasing the chickens and had been learning to be calm around them fairly well, but I left her unattended in the yard for a few minutes and she caught the slow bantam rooster she liked to chase. When I caught her she was playing with the rooster who was still alive, but passed overnight.

I’m reading your great recommendations and will keep working with Roxy. She is very smart, but also very high energy.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1115 Dog owners recommended

Hello Joe, Check out James Penrith from take the lead dog training on youtube, if you have not done so already. He works with livestock chasing/killing dogs, doing off-leash training. Livestock forums where other dog owners have posted what have worked for them can be another great resource for asking questions and getting some advice. I would filter the advice by what seems like common sense. Personally, when learning more about training in an area, I find the best dog training advice makes sense when you hear it, instead of seeming overly odd or harsh. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Rocky
Blue Heeler/ australian shephard
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Rocky
Blue Heeler/ australian shephard
1 Year

he has started kill the neighbor's geese how to stop him so we don't have to give him a new home

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1115 Dog owners recommended

Hello, Check out James Penrith from TaketheLeadDogTraining. He has a Youtube channel. He works with dogs that chase and sometimes will kill livestock. 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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dally
German Shepherd
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
dally
German Shepherd
1 Year

dally is a sweet dog but kills chickens and teaches other dogs how to kill chickens too.is there something I can use or do to help her?

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

Hi 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.

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