How to Prevent Dogs From Chasing Livestock

Dogs who chase livestock endanger themselves and will not only scare the other animals but may even start to kill them.


If you live in the country and keep livestock, or have a neighbor that keeps livestock, you definitely do not want your dog to start chasing those animals. Not only can your dog get hurt, should a cow kick it, but this can become a worse problem if your dog starts learning how to kill the animals. Even if the dog only chases the animals this can result in lower growth rates so chasing livestock should never be allowed.

Breed Selection

It is important to note that some breeds of dogs are more keen to chase, indeed they see it as a game and were bred to herd, or hunt. Terriers will chase out of a prey drive, while herding dogs such as border collies, will chase out of a desire to herd. Sight hounds will chase small things out of their breeding, and Huskies are notoriously strong willed with good stamina, and are well known for going after livestock (particularly chickens). Either way if you have such a breed you must be extra aware of the dogs predisposition to wanting to chase livestock.

Cow vs Dog by peter pearson.

You can see this Terrier wants to chase the Cow.  photo source

Training from the Start

By getting a young dog, socializing them correctly, training them not to chase livestock, or any other animal, one can stop problems from developing. This means that unless a person is an experienced trainer they take the dog to proper obedience lessons for training and socialization. The dog should learn to focus on you, and should learn recall. As such it learns to focus on you, and when distracted it should be able to be called, and come instantly. The dog is rewarded with attention and treats, as such it learns that paying attention to you is good. Basically the dog learns that ignoring the livestock gets it a reward.

Constant Supervision or Containment

If the dog cannot be supervised and is cannot be trusted not to chase livestock it should be put in a dog run, fenced yard, or crate. Once the dog learns how fun chasing can be, and once the livestock learns to be fearful (animals who run are more likely be chased), the problems will generally escalate.

If the dog cannot be contained safely, the livestock animals must be kept off limits. This is easier to do with smaller animals, such as chickens or rabbits, but a determined dog will try to get at these animals if they can.

Keeping the Dog Busy

Dogs become problems because they are bored.  When left alone and with nothing to do they see the livestock as a source of entertainment.  A dog given the proper mental stimulation and one who is treated as part of the family will stick with its people as a pack rather than be off somewhere chasing, and potentially killing, livestock.

Drastic Measures

More drastic measures involve fencing the livestock animals with electric fence systems to keep the dog out. The problem is that some dogs learn how to get around this. Electric Collars also require an owner to watch the dog and shock it when it gets too close to the livestock. The other idea is to put a guard animal in with the livestock, however this means the dog itself could be at risk if it does enter the pen. Some donkeys, llamas, and alpacas have a strong dislike for dogs and will chase them. This is particularly true of male animals.

 Cows Are Sooo Funny! by Laertes.

Obviously these dogs could care less about the cattle.  photo source


Case Study

One of my first jobs was on a horse breeding farm. The owner of the farm got into breeding Rottweiler dogs because at that time the market demand for them was huge (they sold for around $3000). I knew nothing about training dogs at that time and was hired to look after the horses. He kept two females for breeding purposes, they slept in the barn, but were loose in the day, never allowed into the house and other than feeding, rarely had any human contact. It was only a matter of time before they killed one of the neighbors calves. They were bored, had formed a pack and were starting to hunt.

On the other hand, the horse trainer who also worked at that facility had her own Rotti, and a better trained dog I have never seen. Sara was the trainers companion, she went home with the trainer, and was part of her family, she even trotted along side some of the horses when they were being trained. I don’t think this dog would have even eaten a fly without permission. As such you can see the value of how a dog is treated and trained.

Related Links

The Six Most Dangerous Dogs

The Six Safest Dogs for Children

Smart Dogs

Selection and Purchase of a Dog or Pup

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User Comments
  1. Jimmy Shilaho

    On July 4, 2010 at 1:02 am

    You and your great posts. You really have awesome knowledge on pets that I admire. I really wish I understood humans that well, I would be a shrink by now.

  2. Anuradha Ramkumar

    On July 4, 2010 at 2:19 am

    Gr8 article. I understood how to train dogs and sure will do so when I have a pet on my own.

  3. papaleng

    On July 5, 2010 at 4:36 am

    Another good post Brenda. thanks for the useful info, my dog (a mini-pincher) has this bad behavior of chasing chickens.. now I can deal with his behavior.

  4. Lipstick

    On July 5, 2010 at 6:42 am

    yes we love dogs but sometimes they can be so naughty
    this will be a good guide for sure
    thank you for sharing this with us :)


  5. PR Mace

    On July 7, 2010 at 11:53 pm

    I have never had this problem and we have cows from a farm right behind our house. Now cats are another subject. My guys seem to hate cats. Another well done post.

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