Long-time dog owners know that canines and chickens don’t always mix. In many cases, chickens will end up in a bloodbath after the curious doggo chased, rough played, and chew on them. While this may sound vicious, there’s a way on how to stop a dog from killing chickens. Intensive training will go a long way here, but you have to understand that some breeds just won’t get along with feathery animals.
Why do dogs attack and kill chickens?
The truth is that many dogs don’t really like to kill chickens. However, since some canines can be very playful, they may go too ruff and break the chicken’s neck. Chickens have very vulnerable necks that a dog’s playful bite might kill them right away.
On the other hand, some dogs really intend to attack and kill chickens (please read my article What To Do If A Deer Attacks Your Dog). This is highly attributed to a canine’s prey drive.
Dog breeds like Bull Terriers, Saluki, Rhodesian Ridgeback, and Irish Wolfhounds were bred to hunt. It’s in their genes to chase after a target and kill it. Unfortunately, most of these dogs were bred to go after birds, and you guessed it, chickens.
Still, some dogs are bred to protect livestock. These canines have a lower prey drive and less likely to kill chickens.
However, you shouldn’t be too complacent as any dog can go after a chicken, especially if they are feeling playful. Boredom can drive a dog crazy and if there are chickens around, they will suit themselves by chasing after them.
How to train a dog not to kill chickens
It’s possible to stop a dog from killing chickens, but you have to dedicate time and effort to train them. The following are some helpful tips you can use to save the poor chickens from their death.
1. Socialize your dog
If your dog is still a puppy, it will help a lot to socialize the canine. This will help curb their standoffish behavior, which will help in stopping them from killing chickens.
It’s important to socialize the dog with your chickens as well so it will grow accustomed to the presence of other animals. Starting as early as you can is the key here.
You can start by playing chicken sounds at home and showing the chicken to your dog without letting it get too near. From there, you can increase the dog and chicken’s interaction.
2. Distract the dog
The moment you see your dog being too interested in the chickens, call its name right away. When the dog comes to you, give it a tasty treat right away. Keep doing this until your dog is no longer bothering the chickens.
This will teach your dog that leaving the chickens alone will get him a treat. Over time, you can reduce the number of treats you give and replace them with affection and pets.
Take note that for this to be effective, your dog needs to undergo basic obedience training. It needs to learn basic commands like ‘stop’, ‘sit’, ‘leave it’, ‘come’, and ‘down’. This will give you better control over your dog once it’s surrounded by chickens.
3. Use the stop and pull method
For older dogs with high prey drive, the stop and pull method might work. To do this, you need to leash your dog and keep a short lead.
After that, slowly walk your dog toward the chicken coop. Pay close attention to your dog’s behavior and how it will react as you get nearer to the chickens.
If the dog lunges, barks, growls, or show any signs of aggression, say a firm ‘no’ then pull away. Turn to the opposite direction immediately away from the chicken coop. please read here how to stop dog aggression towards cats
This will teach your dog that behaving brashly toward the chickens is not acceptable. You have to repeat this process over and over again until your dog relaxes. For some breeds, it may take weeks.
Once your dog seems to be fine with chickens, you can let the fowl roam freely. However, keep your dog leashed and see how it will react. Your dog might behave well when the chickens are in the coop, but it’s a different story when the birds are running around. Read more here what happen if a dog eat bird
Keep repeating the steps above and make sure that you reward your dog for responding positively.
4. Consider the drop method
Another method you can try is the drop method. This works just like the stop and pull method, except that you will command your dog to ‘drop’. For this to work, you need to teach your dog to ‘drop’ or lay on its back. Positive reinforcement is a foolproof trick here.
Once your dog knows how to do the ‘drop’, leash it and start walking toward the coop slowly. See how your dog will react. If it shows any sign of aggression, say the ‘drop’ command. Give the doggo a treat if it follows.
Repeat the process until your dog drops without a treat and once it’s no longer acting up around chickens. After that, release the chickens and see how your doggo will react to the running fowl. You may need to train further as some dogs go nuts when they saw moving birds.
5. Enlist a dog trainer
If all else fails, you can hire a trainer to help hack your dog off the chicken killing spree. This is often the wisest choice if you have an overly aggressive canine that doesn’t respond to any of your training efforts.
The dog trainer can try different methods to help train your dog around chickens. This may take longer, depending on how aggressive your pet can be.
What should I do if my dog killed a chicken?
If it’s not your chicken that your dog killed, you should first talk to the owner. Explain what happened and come up with a resolution. It could be that you’re going to replace the chicken or pay for it.
The most important part is you should train your dog. This is to prevent the chicken killing incident from happening again and putting you in trouble with the neighbors.
You should also take your dog away from the chickens. However, you should never punish the canine for it because this will only trigger more problems.
Can a chicken survive a dog attack?
It depends on how grave the attack is. If the pooch is just playing, there’s a chance that the chickens will only sustain minor injuries. In this case, the chicken may survive and heal from the wounds.
However, if the chicken is directly attacked, it’s less likely to survive. Chickens have very soft bodies and vulnerable necks. One dog bite can easily kill them. please read here how to train dog to not bite.
Treating an injured chicken after a dog attack should be done properly and quickly. In the worst cases, you will need to call a veterinarian.
Is it normal for dogs to kill chickens?
Dogs are not habitual poultry killers. However, since many of them have a strong prey drive, they love chasing and attacking moving things. Chickens are easy targets because they are almost flightless and very feathery.
Take note that some breeds just can’t get along with chickens. Also, training can only do so much since it can’t erase a canine’s predisposition or genetic traits.
How do I know if it’s my dog who killed the chickens?
If you’re not sure whether it’s your dog or another feral animal that killed your chicken, you should look for signs of attack. Feathers and blood traces on your dog’s bed and play quarters are dead giveaways.
Take note that most dogs won’t kill chickens for food. So if a part of the chicken is missing, there’s a high chance that a coyote and other wild animals targeted your chicken.
What dog breeds get along with chickens?
While there are dogs that will kill your chickens, there are a few breeds that will actually get along with the fowl. Most of these are herding dogs, or those bred to protect the livestock of their masters. The following are some of these breeds:
- Maremma Sheepdog. This dog is bred to herd and protect livestock. If introduced to chickens at an early age, the Maremma Sheepdog would be amazing guardians.
- Great Pyrenees. The Great Pyrenees are working dogs that can be trained to get along with chickens. They are intelligent canines and very affectionate, too.
- Komondor. This dog is bred to be watchdogs so introducing them early to chickens can help them guard the fowl. However, they are pretty standoffish toward strangers so you should take caution.
- Tibetan Mastiff. While this dog may look intimidating, they are actually very sweet and friendly canines. You can train them to guard chickens instead of attacking them. They will also guard your property since they are aloof of strangers.
Knowing how to stop a dog from killing chickens is a long process. Since canines have a natural prey drive, it could be difficult to break their habit of chasing and attacking chickens. The help of a dog trainer is a must if your dog isn’t yielding to any of your efforts.