Is Your Dog Killing Chickens? How to Stop Canine Chicken Attacks0 comments
Rural life with a high-prey drive dog can be exceptionally difficult if your dog becomes obsessed with local chickens. Not only must you try to smooth things over with angry neighbors, but you may also face legal ramifications if your dog damages property or kills any chickens.
If your pup is going after chickens, the problem can quickly get out of hand. And if your dog does end up causing chicken casualties, it can damage your relationship with your canine companion (and your neighbors, if it was their bird on the line).
Fortunately, with the right tools and perseverance, you can stop your dog attacking chickens so that peace can once again rule the roost!
Why Dogs Chase, Attack, and (Sometimes) Kill Chickens
Over the decades, breeders have selectively refined certain dog breeds to sharpen their instinctive prey-driven behavior. While this behavior has proven beneficial in some situations, like hunting, it is less so for those interested in keeping chickens and dogs on the same property.
A dog with a strong prey drive can lead to problem behaviors such as:
- Farm dogs attacking or killing chickens on the farm.
- Family dogs attacking or killing family chickens when let outdoors.
- Family dogs attacking or killing chickens owned by neighbors.
- Dogs damaging property to get to chickens.
Certain dog breeds tend to struggle with a high-prey drive more than others due to a stronger natural instinct to chase and hunt small prey (like chickens). Some of these breeds include:
- Hound breeds (including scent and sighthounds)
For these dogs, the chasing and hunting instinct is pushed to the breaking point when faced with tempting chickens! And even if you’re unsure of the type of dog you have, it’s possible that they share some hunting blood with one or more of these high prey drive breeds.
Unfortunately for some rural dog owners, pups that give in to their natural prey-driven instincts too often leave their owners in hot water, and local law enforcement can enter the equation.
Legal ramifications for dogs attacking chickens may include:
- Owners having to pay for damages and losses to compensate the chicken owner. For example, if a family dog destroys a neighboring chicken coop to get to the chickens, the dog owner would be legally responsible for the cost of property damages and any chickens lost.
- Offending dogs being added to a livestock killing registry or facing other legal consequences and restrictions after a chicken attack.
- Neighbors being legally allowed to shoot trespassing and livestock-threatening dogs if they venture onto their property.
While it is not inherently “bad” for a dog to have a high prey drive, it can obviously be troublesome and expensive for dog owners–and could even result in you losing your dog. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to deter a prey-driven dog from chicken attacks.
3 Ways to Keep Your Dog from Attacking Chickens
1. Encourage Positive Interaction With Chickens
Encouraging positive interactions with chickens requires dedication and a constant watchful eye. Socialization between high-prey drive dogs and chickens is usually more successful when starting from an early age.
- Begin introductions by holding your dog in a sit position while having someone trusted hold a chicken. Have the person holding the chicken advance.
- As your dog remains calm, reward them with praise and treat rewards. If your dog stands out of the sit position, have the person holding the chicken stop advancing and put your dog back into a “sit.”
- Once the person holding the chicken is close enough, allow your dog to sniff the chicken and offer a reward for a calm interaction.
- Over time, as your dog displays calm behavior, increase the time you allow your dog to interact with the chicken.
The benefit of encouraging positive interactions with chickens is that it teaches young dogs to coexist peacefully with many potential prey animals by creating a positive environment.
The biggest obstacle dog owners face when encouraging a positive interaction with chickens is that it is a technique that works best with young puppies experiencing chickens for the first time. Adjusting to life with chickens can be challenging for older dogs with a high prey drive, no matter how positive an interaction you create.
2. Invest In a Secure Chicken Coop
A secure chicken coop prevents negative physical interactions between your dog and chickens by creating a sturdy physical barrier between the two. Installing a more secure chicken coop is a fast and easy solution to more peaceful dog-chicken interaction.
However, some persistent dogs always seem to find a way in! Plus, in close enough proximity, dogs can still scare chickens by barking and guarding the area, creating a stressful environment for egg-laying. Confining the chickens also means they have less freedom to roam, which can also reflect in their health and egg-laying habits.
3. Invest in a Secure Containment System For Your Dog
A secure containment area for your dog is much more accessible than a sturdy but free-range friendly containment system for chickens. A GPS-controlled containment area, in particular, keeps your high prey drive dog within a designated area allowing free-range chickens to roam. This type of invisible fencing is also ideal because it lets you create a custom containment area of any size or shape while still allowing your dog to enjoy their freedom.
Containment systems provide a reliable way to keep your chickens and dogs safe, and a GPS fence gives you the freedom to change the location of the containment zone at any time with the touch of a button–unlike traditional or buried wire fences that are stuck where you install them.
For some dogs, chasing and attacking chickens is a natural instinct reinforced by selective breeding. This instinct does not rule out chicken ownership for owners of these dogs, however, because, with the right tools, high-prey drive dogs and chickens can coexist.
Learn more about how GPS wireless containment systems can help your dog explore safely.
Amy Brannan is a British native who currently resides in North Carolina with Jet, her 15-year-old senior black lab. Throughout her life, Amy has been owned by numerous Labrador retrievers, a Great-Dane pit-bull mix, and a very demanding border collie. For over 16 years, Amy has dedicated her life to dog training, and she currently works as a freelance writer, promoter of rescue dog awareness, and part-time for a local veterinary clinic.
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