We know dogs look cute and adorable, but did you know that they are natural predators? In fact, scientists say that they have contributed to the extinction of nearly a dozen wild bird and animal species and have become the third worst human-introduced predators after cats and rats.
So if you have a dog and are considering getting a pet bird, or vice versa, know that it might take a bit of work to have them together in the same household. In this article, we will guide you how to train your dog to leave a bird alone.
Introduce Them Slowly
No matter how gentle and calm you think your dog is, remember that because it is a predator in the wild, it has the natural instinct to hunt a bird when it sees one.
So take it easy with the introduction of your pets and start at a very slow pace. You can try bringing them in contact with each other for only a few minutes several times throughout a couple of weeks.
Your goal should be to make your dog comfortable with your bird such that it will stay relaxed even with your bird’s presence. Don’t try to rush increasing their time socializing as it may lead to disastrous situations or accidents.
Also, you might want to introduce them in a neutral area– that is, a place in your house that neither animal considers its territory and spends little time in. By getting them out of their territory, you’ll be able to reduce the chances of aggressive behavior.
Limit Their Contact
While you’re still helping them get accustomed with each other, remember to not have either of your pets loose in the room. Your bird should be placed in a secure and sturdy cage that can’t be toppled over easily, while your dog should be on a leash.
By having your dog leashed, you’ll be able to easily restrain your dog in case it tries to charge at your bird. Initially, you might also want to place the birdcage in a spot that can’t be reached by your dog.
“Leave It” Command
It helps if your dog is trained for the “leave it” command. During the introduction phase, when your dog focuses on your bird and tries to go near it, say the “leave it” command. When it follows your command and looks at you instead, give it the treat. If not, give a light pull on the leash to get its attention.
Always encourage your dog’s good behavior by rewarding it in the form of tasty treats and verbal praises.
Keep Them Under Supervision
After several sessions of introducing them in the same room together with some level of restraint, you can try to have your dog in the area without a leash if you’re confident that it won’t attack your bird.
For your bird’s protection, you might want to keep it inside the cage while you’re observing how your dog will react when it’s off-leash. Always keep them under supervision, at least while you’re helping them get comfortable with each other.
Remember to stay alert, as accidents can always happen even with the most trustworthy dogs.
Factors That Affect Dog Training
There are different factors that will influence the difficulty of training your dog to leave a bird alone. These include the breed and age of your dog.
While it’s generally recommended to train your dog while young, introducing a puppy to a bird takes more consistency and time. Also, some breeds have stronger hunting instincts than others, which means it will take more effort to introduce it to your bird.
Reading Your Dog’s Body Language
As a dog owner, it is important to understand your dog’s body language. Here are some of the most common signs that your dog is giving off predatory vibes towards your bird:
- Ears up
You should also watch out for the following signs that your dog is seeing your pet bird as a prey:
- Intently focused on your bird
- Hair on its back is standing up
- Ears pinned back
- Stiff tail
- Darting and jabbing towards your bird
Keep an eye on your dog’s movements and any sudden movements towards your bird or its cage is a cue to keep them away from each other.
It can be challenging, but with the right approach and strategies, you can teach your dog to be more gentle and leave a bird alone. However, if you think you don’t have the patience, time, and skills to train your dog successfully, the best way to go is hire a professional dog trainer such as Delaware K9 Academy.
We offer private lessons, 2-week bootcamps, and even puppy training. Check out our Services page to learn more or contact us so we can discuss your options!