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 harness 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.

Why leash train a chicken?

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.

chicken walking on a leash

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!

I had 1 chicken that was very pretty, super fluffy and a really well behaved, even with strangers. 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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  1. What a beautiful chicken! Thanks for sharing this on The Maple Hill Hop!

  2. I want chickens so bad!! I would love it if you would link this up to Garden Tuesday at Sidewalk Shoes!

    1. I linked up! Thanks for letting me know about the hop!


  3. I'm getting chickens this year (a friend is "fostering" four baby chicks until they are big enough to go outside). I'm now adding chicken walking to my to do list!

    1. You should! Let me know how it goes, and congrats on the chickens!


  4. Thank you for sharing this great post with us at Good Morning Mondays. Our children have practices hypnotizing chickens I will have to show them this so they can take their chickens for a walk. Blessings

  5. Chickens learn in 3's.
    The first time is panic, second they are not too sure...
    but they do remember that they survived it before.
    The third time ... "We do this ALL the time."
    Helps if you take them somewhere interesting.
    Cue words to behavior. When they poop say the word "Poop" and reward.
    It only takes a few days before they will poop on command.
    Now it is up to you to remember to remind them every 20 min.
    We have ours cued to do it on a boot tray on the patio.
    Now... they seem to have no sense of chassis over hang?
    But their feet are always on the tray.
    Then they walk over and say "Good girl" and get a sunflower seed.
    A plastic fork to flick poop into a container to go to the garden later works.
    Ours know the words Cage, Up, Outside, Stop. Water, Nap.No. C'mon. shush
    To come when they are called is the most important.
    My husband slaps his leg, I call "chick chick" and we teach them to run back and forth to us for treats.
    Next is 'stop' and 'step up' onto your fist. More stable than a palm.
    My oldest makes a c'mere motion with her head when she wants to be picked up.
    Also says 'corn corn' when she wants me to make them popcorn.
    And gives me a 'good girl' when I deliver it. Grin.
    One thing I had to learn is that a newly hatched chick can learn
    They are not like a dog that you wait 10 weeks for them to get functional.
    3 day old chicks can be taught to stay in 1 area.
    If you pick them up and replace them 3 times when they leave it.
    Easier to teach one at a time but we had 3 day olds trained.
    Open the cage, get them to step up or fly up
    and have 4 of them on the top of a tupperware container.
    Hanging with their 'peeps' and being socialized.
    My husband says It's important to get them hooked on the weather channel early.
    Now they have morning coffee and quinoa together and discuss the day..
    The critical thing to training chickens is... You have to be smarter than them.
    They also expect respect and remember anything nasty or mean.

  6. My grandson wants to train his chicken for show I need a walking stick is there someplace I can purchase one.

  7. I’m thinking about getting 2 ducks, 2 chickens and 1 rooster. I want to keep the rooster in a seperate pen, but I don’t know if that’s cruel. Also will I still get baby chicks if he’s in a separate enclosure. And will the duck be safe from the rooster is she lives in the coop? And will the male duck fight with the rooster?

    1. Chickens are flock animals and the rooster would be happier if he were with the hens. No, you will not be able to hatch the hens eggs unless the rooster has access to the hens and can mate regularly. All my chickens and ducks free range together and I haven't had a problem with them. Of course all animals are different, but it should work out well. Good luck!


  8. My chickens have been the perfect pair of terminex pest control, but I realized that I could use a leash and harness to take them to friends yards to help them with their pest problems, feed my chickens some tasty grubs, and let them explore a new area!

    1. What an awesome idea! I think your chickens will love that and it will give them time to practice leash walking..