The day your dog comes to you and proudly shows you a dead bird in his mouth will make you wish you corrected his bird-chasing behavior sooner. Understand that your pet companion is a hunter by nature -- he's just giving in to his natural prey drive. Punishing him for catching birds is ineffective and might worsen the behavior or make him fear you. You're better off redirecting him to do an acceptable activity and reinforcing his good behavior with irresistible treats.
Tip #1 - Demand your dog's attention when you walk him. Arm yourself with a bag of dog treats, leash your dog and take him outside for a walk. When your pet companion spots a bird and set in for the chase, turn and walk in the opposite direction. The leash stops him in his tracks and forces him to follow. Praise him and give him a treat when he walks with you.
Tip #2 - Tempt your dog with treats. Watch your dog like a hawk while you're walking him on a leash. The moment you notice him looking at a bird, say "leave it" or call his name to get his attention. Alternatively, hold a treat in front of his nose if he doesn't pay attention to you. When he listens and looks at you, praise him and give him a treat to reinforce the good behavior. Pull out treats each time you catch him eyeing a bird. Over time, your pet companion's urge to chase will be replaced with the anticipation of getting treats.
Tip #3 - Provide your dog with plenty of entertainment and activities to enrich his life, because if he lacks stimulation, he might resort to bad habits, such as catching birds. Give your dog a daily workout so he gets tired and would rather nap than chase birds -- go for daily walks or go jogging with your dog; challenge him with a variety of dog toys including food-stuffed toys, and play games like fetch, hide-and-seek and tug-of-war with him.
Tip #4 - Confine your dog to a dog pen or kennel if you can't supervise him while he's in the backyard. This still allows him to be outside, but keeps him from having full run of the yard so he can't chase birds.
By Kimberly Caines
About the Author
Kimberly Caines is a well traveled model, writer and licensed physical fitness trainer who was first published in 1997. Her work has appeared in the Dutch newspaper "De Overschiese Krant" and on various websites. Caines holds a degree in journalism from Mercurius College in Holland and is writing her first novel.