Can you train a dog not to chase chickens?

When we first got chickens, my biggest concern was whether my dog Chase would try to attack them. Chase is a Chihuahua cross Jack Russell and it was the latter that I was most concerned about.

Jack Russells are terriers that tend to have quite high prey drives. Chase has always loved chasing birds. Her eyes would glaze over, and off she’d bolt!

In the beginning it was a little tricky. We would only let the chickens out when we were there to supervise. Quite a few times her eyes did glaze over in the sheer excitement of catching bird, however when this happened we were quick to pick her up and let her know that they were off limits.

My two chickens were quite feisty, and Chimmi (bless her feisty little soul) would be quick to fight if Chase wandered too close. This was my next concern. While Chase had learnt that the chickens were off limits, if they attacked her, then she was quick to defend. I was worried that they would start a fight, and she’d bite and kill them in defence.

It has all worked out well now and the chickens free range in the yard every day. Chase ignores them, but will happily still chase any other bird that flies into the yard.

Unfortunately with her old age now (and her eyesight mostly gone), the chickens tend to pick on her a little. If she wanders too close, she’ll get a big solid peck. She doesn’t fight back though, just tucks her tail and quickly shuffles away.

They now truly rule the yard. Even our cat stays clear, having earnt herself a couple of pecks over the years.

I do think it is possible training a dog with a strong prey drive to accept chickens, however that said we’ve had Chase since she was a puppy, and she was already well trained when the chickens joined our family.