Are Australian Shepherds Good with Chickens? The Ultimate Guide

Considering adding chickens to your backyard and wondering about their compatibility with your Australian Shepherd? We’ll explore effective methods to train and socialize your Australian Shepherd for a harmonious living arrangement with chickens.

Our goal is to help you make an informed decision that promotes a happy and healthy coexistence for all your pets.  Let’s get to it!

Australian Shepherds and Chickens

are aussies good with chickens

When it comes to your Australian Shepherd and chickens, it’s essential to understand the breed’s natural instincts and behavior. Australian Shepherds are intelligent, protective, active, and good-natured dogs that were initially bred for herding cattle.

They possess strong prey drives for smaller animals, which can make them suitable for working with livestock, but also potentially challenging around chickens.

Training and Socialization

To ensure your Aussie gets along well with your chickens, proper training and socialization at an early age are crucial. Begin by introducing your Australian Shepherd to the chickens in a controlled environment, always keeping a close eye on their interactions.

Reward your Aussie for displaying calm, non-aggressive behavior around the birds, reinforcing their positive experiences. Gradual exposure and consistent reinforcement will help your dog understand that the chickens are part of their family and not prey.

Establishing Boundaries

Another important factor is setting clear boundaries for both your Australian Shepherd and your chickens. Create designated spaces for each species, such as a fenced area for the chickens and a separate space for your dog to roam.

This separation helps prevent accidental harm or stress to the chickens and allows your Australian Shepherd to have its own territory. Installing a gate or barrier may be an additional measure to keep each party in their designated area.

Managing Prey Drive

It is essential to address any significant issues with your dog’s prey drive to ensure the safety of your chickens. If your Australian Shepherd displays excessive chasing or aggressive behavior, it is critical to take action immediately.

Consult with a professional dog trainer who can provide guidance on how to manage your dog’s instincts. Remember, the more you understand your Australian Shepherd’s natural tendencies, the better equipped you will be to help them coexist peacefully with your chickens.

Interactions Between Australian Shepherds and Chickens

When introducing your Australian Shepherd to chickens, it’s crucial to understand their natural herding instincts. These dogs were bred to herd cattle and other livestock, so they have a strong prey drive for smaller animals.

However, with proper training and socialization, you can create a harmonious environment where both your dog and chickens coexist peacefully.

Introduce them Early

To start, ensure your Australian Shepherd is introduced to the chickens at a young age. Early exposure can help them understand that these are not prey but rather animals they should protect. ‘

Supervise their interactions and maintain a calm and controlled environment. Make sure to provide positive reinforcement when your dog behaves appropriately around the chickens.


Training is essential for establishing clear boundaries for your Australian Shepherd. Teach them basic obedience commands, such as “sit,” “stay,” and “leave it.” These commands can prevent any potential injuries to your chickens.

Additionally, investing in mental stimulation for your dog can help reduce their herding instincts and redirect their energy, allowing them to relax around chickens more easily.

What to Look Out For

introduce an aussie to chickens early

Don’t forget to closely monitor your dog’s behavior during interactions with chickens. Some common signs of stress in both the dogs and chickens might include:

  • Pacing
  • Excessive barking or vocalizations
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Chasing or nipping at the chickens

Recognize these signs, and intervene when necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of both your chickens and dog.

In conclusion, with a watchful eye, careful training, and socialization, you can create a successful and positive environment for both your Australian Shepherd and your chickens to live together harmoniously.

Use Reward-Based Training

To develop a strong bond between your Australian Shepherd and your chickens, use reward-based training methods. This involves rewarding your dog with treats, praise, or playtime when they display positive behaviors around the chickens. Some tips for successful reward-based training include:

  • Calm behavior: Reward your Aussie when they remain calm and don’t chase or nip at the chickens.
  • Obedience: Encourage your dog to obey commands like “sit,” “stay,” or “leave it” when around the chickens. Reward them when they successfully follow your instructions.
  • Positive interactions: Praise your dog when they have positive interactions with the chickens, such as sniffing them gently or ignoring them altogether.

Throughout the training process, remember to always be patient and consistent. Australian Shepherds are intelligent dogs, and with proper training and socialization, they can become excellent companions for your chickens.

Keep in mind that each dog is unique, and individual progress may vary. By dedicating the time and effort, you’ll be well on your way to having a harmonious relationship between your Australian Shepherd and your chickens.

Challenges in Raising Australian Shepherds with Chickens

aussie and chickens challenges

Managing Instinctive Behaviour

Australian Shepherds have a strong herding instinct, which can make it difficult to raise them with chickens. While these dogs were bred to drive large animals and help humans work with groups of cattle, chickens are often seen as prey by Aussies due to their powerful prey drive.

To successfully raise Australian Shepherds with chickens, you need to manage their instinctive behavior through appropriate training methods. Some tips to help include:

  • Exposure: Gradually introduce your Aussie to the chickens to familiarize them with each other.
  • Training: Teach your dog basic commands, such as ‘leave it’ or ‘stay,’ to have better control over their actions around the chickens.
  • Supervision: Always supervise the interactions between your Australian Shepherd and chickens to prevent any aggressive behavior.

Addressing Aggression

Although not all herding dogs possess an aggressive demeanor, some Australian Shepherds may exhibit aggression towards chickens, putting them at risk. To ensure the safety of both your chickens and your dog, consider the following measures:

  • Proper socialization: Socializing your dog with chickens from a young age can help them learn to coexist peacefully.
  • Obedience training: Enroll your Australian Shepherd in obedience classes to reinforce their understanding of basic commands and acceptable behaviors around chickens.
  • Consistent reinforcement: Practicing consistent and positive reinforcement will help your dog understand that displaying aggression towards chickens is not allowed.

By managing the instinctive behavior and addressing any aggression of your Australian Shepherd, you can increase the chances of creating a harmonious environment for both your dog and your chickens. Remember, patience, persistence, and supervision are key to overcoming these challenges.

The Bottom Line: Are Australian Shepherds Good with Chickens?

As someone who seems to have a knack for working with dogs, you might be wondering if Australian Shepherds can coexist with chickens. The answer is yes, but with some important caveats.

Australian Shepherds are known for their herding instincts, intelligence, and protective nature. Because of these instincts, they have the potential to be good with chickens when properly trained and socialized from a young age. With their strong prey drive, it’s important to introduce them to the chickens early on, so they understand that they’re not to chase or hurt them.

To make sure your Aussie and your chickens can coexist peacefully:

  • Socialize early: Introduce your Australian Shepherd to the chickens when they’re still a pup. This will help them learn that the chickens are part of their family and not prey that they need to chase.
  • Herding training: Channel their natural herding instincts into appropriate behavior by enrolling them in obedience classes or working with a professional trainer.
  • Supervise interactions: Keep an eye on your Aussie when they’re around the chickens, especially in the early stages of their relationship.
  • Correct behavior: If you notice any signs of chasing or aggressive behavior, intervene immediately and correct the behavior using positive reinforcement techniques.

Remember that every Australian Shepherd is different, and some may take longer to adjust to living with chickens than others. Patience and consistency are key as you train your Aussie to be a good companion to your flock. By following these tips and keeping a close eye on their interactions, you can help ensure a harmonious coexistence between your Australian Shepherd and your chickens.