How to Train Dogs to Leave Chickens Alone

Three Parts:Introducing the dog to the chickensTraining the dog to stop its chicken focusEnsuring ongoing safety and well-being

If your dog has taken to seeing your beloved chickens as prey, you'll need to do what you can to reduce its hunting instincts and keep it away from the chickens.

Part 1
Introducing the dog to the chickens

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    Spend time with the dog outside. As the two of you are outdoors together, aim to get close to the chickens. Introduce the dog to the chickens only when the dog is on a leash. It's a good idea to sit near or among the chickens, talking to them gently and to the dog gently too, keeping everything as calm as possible. If the dog can see that you care about the chickens and treat them as important, it may realize that the chickens are off bounds. It is very important, especially with puppies and young dogs, not to ignite their excitability.
    • If your dog gets too close, reprimand it strongly and tug on its leash or distract it (see next).
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    Give reprimands suited just to the occasion. There are two ways to approach this:
    • 1. Reprimand the dog if it gets too close or seems overly interested in the chickens. Only use the one word, the same word, each time, so that the dog associates that reprimand with not harming the chickens. Haul the dog back on its leash at the same time.
    • 2. If your dog tries to attack or pays too much attention to the chicken, start yelling at the chicken. While it sounds counter-intuitive, your canine will realize something is wrong and it will not want to be involved.
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    Leave the area. If the dog seems fixated on the chickens at any time, take the dog away. Making a break will help the dog to let go of its impulse to attack the chickens. Breaking eye contact with the chickens and being distracted will help the dog to calm down.
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    Repeat until you are assured that your dog has the message firmly imprinted in its mind. This may take a number of weeks, with repeated introductions to the chickens and walkaways, but it is worth the effort to calm the dog and take away any desire to view the chickens as prey. When the dog starts to ignore the chickens, you know you've succeeded and can simply keep an eye on things from this point.

Part 2
Training the dog to stop its chicken focus

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    Train your dog to "leave it" or "drop it". You'll need treats that are only used for this training. Work out where the dog is watching the chickens from at a safe distance (it is best from inside the house to begin with), then set the following training in place:
    • Whenever you spot the dog watching the chickens, say something like "Leave it" or "Drop it".
    • If the dog breaks its focus and looks at you, reward it with the treat. If it does not, no reward and a repeat of the reprimand.
    • Once the dog has mastered it from the safe distance, restart the training from a closer distance, with the same responses. Keep the dog on a leash if you're concerned about any potential for bolting after the chickens.
    • Once the dog has mastered that distance, move in a little closer until you are both among the chickens. Always be with your dog whenever the dog is with the chickens. Once again, reward no looking, no snarling, no chasing and pull the dog away for bad behavioral responses.
    • Eventually, you should find your dog will obey your command to "leave it" or "drop it". You can also use this command for other animals or things that the dog won't otherwise leave alone.

Part 3
Ensuring ongoing safety and well-being

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    Do not ever leave your dog unattended outside with the chickens for a long period of time. If you go out for long periods at a time, either lock up the dog or the chickens, or perhaps both, so that they can't encounter each other. Always be at the dog's side or very close whenever the chickens and dog are interacting closely.
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    Give the dog plenty of enrichment opportunities. Dogs will only attack if they get bored, so always keep your dog entertained. Leave toys, chew toys/bones and things to do for the dog left to its own devices. If possible, get a companion to distract the dog but beware that two dogs after the chickens can form a pack mentality and that is not good news, so train the new dog from the beginning to avoid the chickens.


  • It is best to not trust your dog alone with the chickens. That way, nothing will happen because you're always supervising the interactions.
  • Fence off the area where the chickens are and do not permit the dog to go into that area. If the dog tries, you can reprimand the dog and reinforce good behavior, including not going near the pen or digging at the fence.
  • The earlier you train a dog to control its impulses, the better.


  • If the dog has already killed a chicken, it may be too late to rehabilitate it. Discuss options with a vet or a dog behavioral specialist. At the very least, ensure that the chickens are well locked away from the dog.
  • In some cases, you may be forced to choose between the chickens or the dog. The chickens can always be safely fenced away, so consider this before doing anything drastic, such as giving away your chickens or your dog.

Things You'll Need

  • Super tasty treats
  • A command suitable for you
  • A reprimand suitable for your dog
  • Dog toys and distractions
  • A safe area for the chickens

Article Info

Categories: Dog Obedience | Chickens