Dogs of all breeds have some level of prey drive dating back to their wild wolf ancestors and may chase and kill birds because of this instinctual drive. To stop your pooch from chasing, killing or harming any neighborhood birds, you'll need to keep him away from them and teach him to leave them alone. With regular training sessions and positive reinforcement, your dog should be less apt to harm any birds wherever you go.
Prevent Your Dog's Access to Birds
The best way to stop your pooch from killing any birds is to keep him away from them.
- Keep your dog indoors when he's not supervised to prevent him harming birds outside.
- While your dog is in your yard, especially if he's unsupervised, provide him with a covered dog run, kennel or screened-in area birds can't access.
- Avoid walking your dog in areas where there are a lot of birds, including beaches and wildlife parks, especially at dawn or dusk when birds are most active.
- House pet birds in cages that your dog can't access.
Teach Your Dog to Focus on You
Train your dog to focus his attention on you instead of the birds.
Hold a treat in front of your nose and say "watch me."
Treat your dog when he looks at you, focusing his attention on you.
Give the command again and reward your dog after he focuses on you for a few seconds, lengthening the time required before he gets a treat each successive time.
Eventually, you can train him outdoors on a leash. If your dog sees any birds along the way, give him the "watch me" command so he looks at you before treating him. This will keep your dog's attention away from birds.
Train Your Dog to "Leave It"
The "leave it" command is useful for getting your dog to ignore birds and when outdoors, especially if he corners one.
Hold a treat in your hand and allow your dog to smell it. Say "leave it" and close your hand around the treat.
Give your dog the treat when he stops trying to get it. Lengthen the time needed for him to ignore the treat before he's rewarded each successive time.
Place a treat on the floor. With your dog on a leash, say "leave it." Give your dog a better treat when he doesn't try to get to the one on the floor.
Place a toy which resembles a bird on the ground. Give your dog the "leave it" command around it. When your dog ignores the fake bird, treat him.
Give your dog the "leave it" command if he sees a bird outdoors on a leash. When he ignores the bird, treat him.
Train Your Dog to Come on Command
For the times when your dog isn't on a leash, you'll need a reliable recall command to stop him from chasing any birds.
Leash your dog and say "come." Immediately back up a few steps.
Treat your dog when he walks over to you.
Put your dog on a long line and command him to "sit."
Back away a few steps and say "come." Wave a toy or treat to get his attention.
Treat your dog when he comes. Continue his training outdoors with distractions like birds around. Eventually, he should come with the command alone.