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- The most common way to break up a dog fight is by doing something to distract the dogs such as making a loud noise or spraying them with water. Once you get their attention, grab your dog to separate him from the other one.
- You may also use an object to separate the dogs such as plywood, a baby gate, or a lid of a metal garbage can.
- Make sure not to get in between two fighting dogs, or attempt to put your hands near the dogs’ mouths to avoid dog bites.
The sound of dogs growling, then snarling. Ears laid back. Teeth showing. Eyes glaring. Dog lovers hate it when these things happen. A dog fight is about to begin.
As a dog owner myself, it hurts to see beautiful dogs lunging, wanting to harm one another.
Dog fights can be a very dangerous incident. To add to that, it is also intense and quite scary especially if one’s own pet is involved. Typically the instinct of most dog owners will be to put themselves in between the two dogs fighting and rescue their pet. This is why I highly advise every pet parent to learn how to recognize as well as break up a dog fight.
There are safe options on how to handle dog fights. I’ll describe these and ways to prevent dog fights.
What’s the Difference Between Play Fighting and Serious Fighting?
Not all fighting is real. Our canine companions do love to play with each other. They often start to play by “bowing” to one another. Front end down. Rear-end up.
They jump around, yip, put their mouths on one another without really biting. Their mouths hang loosely. Their growls aren’t serious. They’re just pretending to be the aggressor. Their bodies are relaxed. Their faces are soft, wide open. They take turns pouncing and rolling on one another.
Things can get out of control during play fights when one or both dogs take things too far. If you’re concerned that happy play is becoming something more serious, call your dog away immediately.
Why Do Dogs Fight?
Dogs get into fights when they feel threatened. They don’t like it when a strange dog enters their yard. Most dog fights that happen during a walk or in a dog park, is triggered when a dog feels his owner is being threatened by another dog. At home, they may be guarding food, a bone, or a dog toy from a perceived rival.
Sometimes dogs who live together in the same household fight. They may feel envy when the other dog is being petted. An old dog might not get along with the family’s new bouncing, playful puppy. One dog may feel he’s the alpha dog and the other dog isn’t showing due respect. Sometimes, when there are multiple dogs living in the same house, feeding them separately works.
Dogs often begin fighting when a third dog has died. That dog had provided leadership for the two younger dogs. They’re now trying to assert their newfound sense of dominance.
How Can You Tell When Two Dogs Don’t Like Each Other?
When dogs pant, pace in a tightly controlled manner, lean forward tensely, or wag their tales stiffly, you know you’ve got a problem. If the breed has perky ears, those ears are laid back against the sides of the head, a sure sign the dog is angry or scared. One dog may want to play while the other dog reacts badly with a growl.
How Can You Prevent Dog Fights?
If both dogs begin escalating their threatening postures or dog body language, such as staring, growling in a low pitch, tucking in the tail, raising their hackles (hair standing on end), snarling, freezing, or lunging forward, you know it’s time to take action. A fight is about to begin.
If one of the dogs is yours, calmly separate it from the other dog and immediately order it to walk with you. Let the other dog know this is unacceptable behavior. Walk slowly and deliberately away from the other dog. Don’t give it any reason to chase you.
If neither dog is yours, ask for help to prevent a fight. Separate the dogs and keep them out of each other’s sight. Leash them to immovable objects or bring them indoors separately.
If you have a small dog or an aggressive dog, it’s best to keep it out of situations where dog fights can occur. Don’t bring your dog’s favorite treats or toys to the dog park. Your dog will guard them. These are sure to trigger resentment.
If you’re walking with your dog on the street and meet another dog and owner, don’t be shy about crossing the street if you don’t trust that other dog for any reason.
Dealing with a Grab and Hold Fight
In a grab and hold fight, dogs will move in with their jaws trying to clamp onto the other dog. If one succeeds, the grabber can cause catastrophic injury to the other dog.
In the case of a dog who is grabbing, you must get the dog to release before attempting to pull it away. Otherwise, you risk injuring the other dog further. Do this by sliding a break stick, a strong flat stick tapered at one end, into the mouth as close to the back of the throat as possible. Then, twist the stick about ¼ of a turn. This will force a release. The dog will bite the stick instead of the other dog.
Think Calm, Firm, Assertive Thoughts
No matter which method you use to stop the two fighting dogs, remain as calm as possible. Dogs respond positively to calm people asserting command. Avoid yelling at the dogs. Take a deep breath and focus on the task at hand.
Dealing with an Ordinary Dog Fight
This is the kind of fight we think of when we say, “dog fight.” The dogs are moving quickly, snapping, snarling, lunging, and biting. These fights cause injuries, but they’re generally less serious than the grab and hold the fight.
Spot the Aggressor
If you find yourself alone and confronted with dogs fighting, you can break up the fight by first determining which animal is the aggressor amongst the dogs involved. Typically, there will be one dog that is far more intense than the other. Identify that dog and stop it. The fight will end quickly.
Clear the Scene
Remove children from the area and keep crowds of people away. It’s best if there are only two people involved in breaking up the fight. All other people should step back.
If the fight is not prevented, think calmly about a safe way to stop it or separate the dogs.
The following methods are recommended to minimize injury:
Make a Lot of Noise
Don’t shout or scream. That might just egg them on.
If you have an air horn handy, blast away. If you’re near your car, get in and lean on the horn. The sound may distract the dogs from their fight. This will give the owners time to grab their dog leashes and separate fighting dogs.
Bang metal pot lids together or slam metal garbage can on the ground. Use anything that will make a loud noise. Try clapping your hands as loud as possible. If you’re good at blowing a high, piercing whistle, try it.
Spray Them Down
Soak the dogs. Spray them down with a hose. Aim for the eyes and nose of the more aggressive dog. Spraying the dogs will often startle them enough to break them apart.
Throw a bucket of water on the dogs’ heads if you don’t have a hose handy.
Have some citronella spray on hand when you walk your dog. Dogs hate the stuff. One spritz at an oncoming dog will stop it. Try lemon juice spray or a vinegar spray.
Don’t use pepper spray. It can cause damage to a dog’s eyes, skin, and nose.
Throw a Blanket Over Them
If a dog can’t see the other dog, it’ll stop fighting. Try throwing a blanket, jacket, or tarp over the dog to calm it down. You can then leash and separate it from the other dog.
Separate Dogs with a Board or Another Barrier
If you’re alone when a dog fight breaks out, wedge something between the dogs. A garbage can lid, chair, skateboard, push broom, or piece of wood can work wonders. For smaller dogs, dropping laundry baskets on each one might work. Keep your hands away from their mouths when you try this.
Get an automatic umbrella and pop it open between the dogs. Make sure it’s long enough so you don’t have to reach into the midst of the dog fight to make it work.
Remove the Dogs from the Area and from Each Other
After you’ve stopped the fight, get the dogs far away from one another. Leash them securely. Remember, dogs run fast. They can cover ground quickly.
Don’t punish the dogs by yelling or hitting them. They’re already extremely stressed. Take your dog home. It’ll feel like a safe place.
Check your dog for injuries. If injured, get it to the veterinarian immediately. Bites cause serious infections.
If your dog is cowering, have it assessed by an animal behaviorist. It may have been traumatized by the fight .
Your dog may act out after an attack. Show it some affection, but let it know house rules must be obeyed.
What is a Safe Way to Break Up a Dog Fight?
Use the “wheelbarrow method.” You need another person willing and able to help with this technique.
Each of you approaches a dog slowly from behind and grabs the hind legs of one of the dogs. Then you lift them up and walk them backward. Raise the hind legs high enough to force the dogs to stand on their front legs. They will find it next to impossible to fight. Isolate and leash the dogs after you’ve separated them.
When Attempting to Break Up a Dog Fight You Should Never Do These Things:
- Never put yourself between the two dogs. You will be bitten and will likely suffer serious injuries.
- Never reach in to separate the dogs.
- Never grab the collar.
- Never put your face near the dogs.
- Never grab a dog by the tail to pull it away.
How Do You Break Up a Pitbull Dog Fight?
If you are an owner of pit bulls, buy a break stick and practice using it in their mouths. As mentioned earlier, a break stick is a device designed to break up a grab and hold the fight.
If you don’t own pit bulls and you come upon them fighting, find an object you can use as a break stick. Pit bulls are terriers. These dogs were bred for grabbing and holding while taking down prey. The only way to break their hold is with one of these devices.
Here are more detailed instructions on how to apply the break stick:
- Walk over to the dogs with your break stick in hand. Straddle the dog who has a hold and lock your legs securely around its hips. With your other hand, grab the dog’s collar firmly. Pull upwards.
- Insert the break stick behind the molars. There’s a gap in the teeth at that point. Work it in a bit more, from 1/2 to 1 ½ inch. Turn the stick around. The dog will release its hold and bite on the stick.
- If both dogs have a hold, someone else will have to use a break stick to release the second dog.
Beware: Only pit bulls will reliably bite on the break stick. The other breeds might bite you when you use this technique on them.
Do dogs feel bad after fighting?
Dogs don’t get embarrassed or sad about doing something humans consider bad. They don’t hold grudges either. But they will remember a dog that has treated them badly. If treated with kindness and firmness, a dog will recover fully, physically and psychologically, from a dog fight.
Now You Know
Most people don’t understand how to break up a dog fight. Now that you do know-how, be sure to help others use these techniques if you see them trying to break up a dog fight incorrectly. They may save other people and dogs from serious injury.