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My Dog Killed a Bird! 8 Tips on What to Do Next

Kerry-Ann Kerr Profile Picture

By Kerry-Ann Kerr

labrador retriever dog with a dead bird in its mouth

Bird watching is a hobby that isn’t enjoyed just by humans; you might notice your dog observing birds in the garden. Unlike humans, however, observation can quickly turn into stalking. Some dogs are bred to be bird hunters, like Labradors. Considering this, it isn’t surprising that your canine killed a bird, but what should you do next?

Your reaction to this situation will depend on a few factors, and we will go through them, so you’ll know exactly what to do in this distressing situation. Let’s jump right in!Divider 4

The 8 Tips on What to Do When Your Dog Killed a Bird

1. Clean Up

If your dog has left the bird’s dead body, you must dispose of it to ensure it doesn’t attract predators or curious children. Wear gloves to protect yourself from bacteria, mites, or insects when handling the bird. Disposable gloves work best, but if you don’t have them, you can use a plastic bag around your hand or even a shovel to pick it up and put it into a plastic bag.

If the bird has open wounds and left behind a mess, make sure you sterilize any tools you used, discard the patch of sod, soil, or dirt the bird was lying on, and pour cleaning solution over the area. The grass might be killed in the process, but so will any bacteria left behind.

hunting dog with killed bird on the ground
Image Credit: Sestra, Shutterstock

2. Plan How to Distract

Killing the bird was instinctual, but it doesn’t mean it has to happen again. Dogs are attracted to a bird’s movement, and you can replicate it with something else to divert their attention the next time you think there’s a risk of them attacking a bird.

You can invest in a toy, such as one on a string you can move like a bird. Make noise, and get the dog to chase you and the toy instead of the bird. You could even reward your dog at the end with a treat to encourage it to pursue you if you ever need to distract them again.

3. Attach a Bell to Your Dog’s Collar

You’re not always going to be around to distract your dog, so make sure there’s an effective way to warn a bird of your dog’s arrival by attaching a bell to its collar. No matter how stealthy your dog tries to be, the bell will warn the bird and allow it to fly to safety.

young female black dog wearing a collar with bell
Image Credit: Collette Worley, Shutterstock

4. Invest Some Time in Training

A longer-term solution would be to train your dog not to attack birds, but this will take some work and perseverance. To do this, you’ll need to use recall training, the “leave it” command, and leash training when you’re out walking.

5. Attention and Exercise Are Important

Unwanted behavior can occur when your dog is unhappy or bored. Even a negative reaction from you is still attention from you. Keep your dog mentally and physically stimulated by taking them out for long walks.

The less energy they have to burn in the house, the less energy there will be to chase and kill a bird. Play with your dog in the yard, like throwing a ball or playing frisbee. This will feed your dog’s urge to chase and catch, so they won’t need to take it out on an unsuspecting bird.

australian shepherd dog and female owner are walking together
Image Credit: Anna Pozzi – Zoophotos, Shutterstock

6. Make Sure Your Dog Isn’t Hungry

If this is a reoccurring problem, ensure your dog isn’t hungry. An empty stomach will increase your pet’s hunting instincts. Feeding your dog a few hours before its walk and ensuring it has a routine feeding schedule will reduce its urge to attack birds.

7. Keep Your Dog on a Leash

Before you’ve trained the instinct out of your dog, keep them on a leash when you’re out and about. A bird has a better chance of surviving an encounter with your pet if you control your dog’s movements.

bernese mountain dog on leash and lying outdoor
Image Credit: Agatalina, Shutterstock

8. Take Away the Temptation

Discouraging birds from coming into your yard might be an option. If you’ve been feeding the birds, you might need to hold off until your dog is trained or move the feeders and tables somewhere your little hunter doesn’t have access to. You can even buy fake owls, which will scare away the birds.Divider 4

People Also Ask

Should I Be Concerned if My Dog Eats a Bird?

Generally, your dog will be fine if it eats a bird. The dangers posed by the ingestion of birds involve bacterial diseases or intestinal blockages. Bones become more of a problem when they’re cooked, as they can puncture something. However, you should contact your veterinarian as a precaution.

Should I Punish My Dog for Killing a Bird?

When we look at dog behavior, we’re doing so from a human perspective, but our dogs aren’t human. It’s also important to remember that punishment is never the answer. It creates fear and distrust, and the bird’s death wasn’t a malicious act. Instead, your dog was working on instinct to play or chase. In other words, it was just being a dog.Divider 4


It’s natural for you to be concerned if your dog kills a bird, but it is an instinct, so don’t worry. The first thing to do is clean up the scene to stop your dog from returning or attracting other predators. Then, you can work on discouraging the behavior to prevent it from happening in the future.

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Featured Image Credit: Waldemar Dabrowski, Shutterstock

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