Train Your Dog to be Chicken-Friendly

Some days homesteading is oh-so-hard. If you’re trying to train a dog to be off leash around free-ranging chicken or ducks, you may feel you’re facing an insurmountable challenge.  I can’t promise success, but I can offer hope. It probably won’t be easy. It probably won’t be quick.

But you’re a homesteader. You never expect quick or easy. You know good things require hard work. So read on…

But first hop over to You’ve reached this page on an old version of the site… For the rest of this post, just click here or on the image below.


17 thoughts on “Train Your Dog to be Chicken-Friendly

  1. Our dalmatian was overly interested in the baby chicks so we kept him tightly controlled when he was near the brooder. When they were old enough to go in the coop, the Dal would aggressively poke at the chicks with his nose against the hardware cloth. I was worried that once both chicks and dog had freedom to roam, I would end up with a dead hen.

    When the hens were old enough to go out on pasture, we got a feather-net style electric fence and charged it with a very weak current. Hens on one side, dog on the other. The dog poked at the hens like he always did, and in his mind, that chicken gave his soft wet nose the worst bite of his life.

    Now he won’t go anywhere near the chickens. They roam freely all over the backyard and the dog maintains his distance, just in case one of them wants to give him another Godzilla bite on the nose.


    • Wow. That’s an interesting way to train your dalmatian! So you only had to do this one time, and no problems since? Your technique sure took a lot less time than mine! Glad you now have happy hens and a smart dog!


    • That’s great that your dog can herd the hens with no worries on your part that she’ll get too interested in one on any given night. Our 3 hens and 1 rooster always come in to the coop every evening, around 6, like clockwork. We just go down, make sure all are accounted for, and close up. What does “GSD” refer to?


      • German Shepard Dog. It has taken us a lot of work to get her that far! That herding instinct she has, plus puppy playfulness has led to several losses. She’s just over a year old now and proven mostly trustworthy😉. We still watch her closely in the evening as she does “her job”.

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  2. Hello. Just came upon your blog through a link from The Prairie Homestead. This is exactly the advice I was looking for! We have 4 new hens – our first chickens – and a 1 yr old black lab, who is also our first dog. AND..we live in rural New England…AND I homeschool my son. AND I’m a Jesus girl!! I will definitely be following your blog. Blessings.


    • Ellen, so nice to “meet” you! Especially with all we seem to have in common. My daughter saw your comment and pointed out if you only had 4 girls we’d have to consider ourselves “twins.” Are you also new to New England and/or the rural life? I’m a native Delawarean/suburbia girl now loving living the simple life in the country. Thanks for following along on my mishaps and ramblings–glad you found me!


      • So funny how many things we seem to have in common, except I have 2 boys. I am fairly new to New England and definitely new to the rural life. We moved into our antique cape (complete with old barn with sagging roof) in New Hampshire a year ago. I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago but spent the most recent 9 years in CT. I am loving the country life and trying to simplify. I am so looking forward to following your adventures.


  3. Trying a very similar routine with our youngest boy, Beau. Very much hoping to break him of his excitement over my feathered babies. It’s very helpful to know that this has worked for you(especially with a breed that would likely have a similar prey drive as him), as this is new territory for us (our older mastiff boy is too lazy to bother with any of the littler critters and didn’t really require much training beyond “this is a chicken, it’s mine. Don’t eat it.”).


    • He was, much to his dislike, kept inside at all times when the chicken were free-ranging. Some days, for his sanity, or if we didn’t have time to take him for a walk, we’d put the chicks away and let him have his outdoor time.


  4. We had a problem with our GP wanting to kill chickens. He had a shock collar on and went into the chicken coop. My husband shocked him with the collar. After that he never chased another chicken, Our German Shepherd killed two baby goats. Now when we have babies we hold it and let the GS lick the baby. No more problems.

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  5. Pingback: Training your dog to be “chicken friendly” | the zen of living smaller

  6. Years ago, we got some late Summer poulets & our two ridgeback dogs certainly wanted to gooble them up quick. The young chickens had a new pen area, but since it was in the dog’s yard, the stalking was intense the first day. I offered up a distraction from each other & to my surprise a solution. Dispite their differences, we found a quick & effective way to bond them as common goal pals. Shredded Cheese. Yep… everybody just wants some cheese. So Week 1, daily (each morning as we let chickens out of coop) we toss a big handful of shredded cheese into the grass of dog yard near (& in) chicken pen. Dogs went sniff & hunt, chickens peck & scratch… frantically nobody cared what the other was doing, when there was Glorious Cheese to be had. Week 2, chickens put in main yard in small pen (dog excerise pen) Cheesing of area commences. Dogs start thinking… Yeay, chicken time is Cheese party time! Week 3, Cheese rains down into the grass & everyone is let out to get their share. Dogs on leashes, as precaution but just a couple “your too close” peck in the nose incidents and the dogs realize the Cheese is plentiful & chickens can really hurt your nose. Cheese phases out, but chickens keep getting let out into yard & the mutual bond of cheese hopefullness remains. Years later, new generations of chickens, ducks & dogs… still works… cheese bonds. Not in any books, but works for us.


  7. Wow! I’m impressed with your patience and persistence! I’m so glad that it paid off and that your dog and chickens are able to peacefully co-exist. I love being able to let my chickens free-range. I’m sure lots of people will be happy to discover your training tips.


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