Anyone who has chickens and dogs at the same time knows the anxiety that goes with introducing the two. Our dog, Link, killed 15 of our birds the first time he was ever trusted alone around them. Now he is left alone with them regularly and hasn’t touched one since. How did we manage this? By hacking Link! So no more chicken killing from him. Now we have a new rescue husky, Laska, and unfortunately she killed a chicken her first time around them. We used the same trick on her, and two days later she ignores the chickens when they walk up to her.
How did we manage this?
We used an old farmers trick for dealing with dogs that are chicken killers. I’m not sure where I first heard about this, but I’ve used is successfully on three dogs now. And each of the dogs I’ve used it on has been a breed with a high prey drive. That leaves me fairly confidant that it will work on most dogs.
There are a few important details about how this dog hack works to get the fastest results. The biggest downside is that the dog in question has to kill a chicken. I would never suggest giving a dog an animal to kill as part of training it. However, if a dog kills a chicken and I want to prevent it from happening again, this is the training method I use. I suppose you could use a bird killed by another animal or that’d died of old age, but I can’t be sure it would be as effective. I’ve also never tried this method with any animal besides a chicken, but I assume it would work for other small farm game.
For best results, be sure to use this method the first time the dog kills a chicken.
When the dog is caught having killed a chicken, immediately scold the dog. This can be done in whatever training manner you apply to other training. Then take the dog and separate it from other dogs, placing it on a lead or in a kennel. Now comes important part number one: Make it so the dog can’t escape the dead chicken. I’ve done this on a lead by attaching the chicken to the dogs collar, or by placing the carcass inside the kennel with the dog. I’ve never had a dog attempt to eat the dead chicken after being scolded for killing it. Afterwards, leave the dog and dead bird in close proximity for at least 24 hours, and up to three days.
I’ve had dogs that have learned after a day, and others I wouldn’t trust to learn in less than 3 days. Use your best judgement with your dog on how long it needs.
Important part number 2: The only attention the dog should be given during this time is receiving food and water (and potty breaks if they are kenneled). Any whining, crying or puppy dog eyes should be thoroughly ignored. The less you can interact with the dog during this time, the better. Once the time is up, remove and dispose of the dead bird. Give the dog lots of praise for not eating the bird, and a bath. Then he should be ready for supervised interaction with chickens. A corrective training collar can help with piece of mind during the reintroduction process, though I haven’t found it necessary. After a week of supervision, I usually feel confidant about leaving the dog alone with the chickens.
I’m not entirely sure why this works. My best theory is that dogs associate killing chickens with being ostracized from their “pack”. I’ve never had more than an ear perk in the direction of noisy chickens after using this method. One dog would even get up and move if the chickens came near him! This is the only method I’ve ever found that works for retraining chicken killing dogs. I have no doubt that using this hack on my dogs has saved me a lot of heartache and flock losses. I hope you never need to use this technique!