How to train a chicken to walk on a harness & leash

By now you've seen the picture. It's all over FB and every other social media site. The picture of those little pink chicken harnesses hanging on a display rack. How many people have tagged you in it? I have been linked to it quite a few times already!

It sounds like a simple idea. You put that cute little harness on your chicken, snap on the leash and take a walk down the block. Sadly, walking a chicken on a leash is not quite that simple.

chicken walking on a leash!

I found out the hard way that it's more of a process then that. You can probably have your chicken walking on a leash in about a week though if you have the time. Think of it more like you would approach training a cat. First you need to get them used to the feel of the harness, before you actually use it. Don't worry....I'll explain how I got my pet chicken used to a harness and leash quickly.

How to leash train a chicken

So you bought that cute little harness, called the chickens over and tried to put it on your favorite hen. Then she freaked out. No doubt you're thinking "this is never gonna work!" Not so fast. First things first, take the harness off. Now get a chicken saddle (apron) and put it on her at night right before bedtime. Let her wear that for a few days first. She'll still freak out a little, but a saddle is safe to leave on for days at a time.

The saddle gets her used to the feeling of having something on her back, and strapped across her front. A saddle also doesn't have anything bulky or any excess hardware to get caught on anything. I always put it on them before bed because they seem to wake up and forget it's on. After a few days she should be used to wearing something, now take that off and put the harness on.

She shouldn't be bothered by the harness now. If it still seems to irritate her, a few more days with the saddle on should fix that. Once she's walking around with the harness on, attach the leash and follow her around! Now, chickens are never going to walk on a leash like a dog, but they can do alright.

I would take my chicken to outdoor events and even though he didn't 'go for a walk' very well, it kept him by my side and safe. Next time you decide you want to take you chicken for a walk, just put her saddle on for a day or 2 beforehand as a reminder and she should do well with the process.

Since that harness picture began making the rounds on social media I've seen a lot of people say "Why would you do that?" well, in most cases I just don't know. It's cute, it's funny...why not? In my case though, this is what you call a gimmick.

About 3 years ago I decided that I wanted to be able to take my chickens to events. I sponsored and attended a lot of local shows, events, races, rodeos etc and would take a large dog crate or day pen and put the chickens in it. It was ok, but they got a whole lot more attention when they were out of the pen. So I would hold them. The whole time! That got messy.

At one point when I was in Petco I found a small animal harness on the clearance rack and decided to try it. This would be the perfect gimmick! A chicken walking on a leash would get tons of notice and give me opportunity to discuss chicken keeping with just about everyone. I bought a cute little leash to match the harness and we were ready to go!

They don't exactly make chicken leashes, so any thin cat or puppy leash should work fine. Just stay away from the retractable leashes, they are horrible!

chicken walking on a leash

I had 1 chicken that was very pretty, super fluffy and a good boy. He was a white Silkie named Snowflake. He loved being petted and fed treats and took to walking on the leash like a pro. He was always the hit of the party after all, it's not every day you meet a rooster on a leash!

I haven't taken a chicken to an event in awhile but people still ask me about him all the time. They even remember him at Petco and Tractor Supply where I would take him to get treats!

So that brings me to the you plan on getting a harness & leash for your chickens?

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