How To Break Up A Dog Fight

Every dog owners’ worst nightmare is breaking up a fight that their dog is involved in.  Some of you may have experience in this situation but we hope that most of you don’t.  Dog fights are terrifying for everyone involved and can lead to serious damage for humans and canines.  In an ideal world everyone would pick up on the signs of a potentially aggressive situation and break it up before anything got physical. 

Introducing dogs to other dogs can be tricky business and should be done only if both owners approve and it’s done in a safe manner.  Never assume another dog is friendly or let your dog off leash to run up to new dogs.  Dogs can become aggressive for many different reasons and it doesn’t mean your dog is a bad dog and unlovable if they become involved in a dog fight.  If your dog is meeting a new dog keep an eye on both dogs and be weary if they are: excessively panting, show their teeth, stiffen up, lock eyes with the other dog, lick their lips, and the list goes on.  If you sense your dog or the other dog is no longer enjoying the meet and greet just pull your dog away and carry on your way.  Always keep in mind a dog fight is not worth a new friend for your dog. 

Our boys Bear and Obie playing rough, not fighting (even though it looks intense)

If you witness a dog fight it can be scary but try to remain calm and assess the situation.  Our dog walkers carry air horns, which can startle dogs enough to divert their attention but we are going to assume you don’t carry an air horn (A+ if you carry an air horn).  Please, please, please, don’t run and get in the middle of the fight to break it up.  You will be probably get bitten and will be useless when you are injured.  If you have an object that could be used to split the dogs up-use it.  This could be a garbage can lid, large piece of cardboard or anything else big enough to keep your hand out of the action.  If it’s clear one dog is dominating, find something to insert in his moth, like a stick, when he starts to gag, the dogs can be separated.  Another option is hosing them down- this is obviously only useful if you are on a lawn and can quickly grab hold of the hose.  

A lot of dog issues resolve themselves in under a minute but if two dogs are really going it and you have no other options grab the dogs by their hind legs.  It helps if there are two people pulling each dog away by their hind legs.  Many people pull dogs by their tails which isn’t quite as effective as using the hind legs and can cause damage to the dog’s nerves.  If you are the only one trying to break up the fight try to grab the hind legs of the dog with the most intensity.  If you have a leash you can also use that to loop under their belly and pull their hind legs up and back.   

See! Bear and Obie really do love each other! They also love to rough house.

Most of the time when you see two dogs going at it, it isn’t a dog fight.  Here’s a tip from dog trainer Jolanta Benal, “Your ordinary dog-park squabble, in which the dogs move like lightning, roaring and snarling at the tops of their lungs, is a cue to stand back, get out of the way, and unbunch your undies. People say “The dogs would have killed each other if we hadn’t broken them up.” Actually, the dogs are talking trash. Almost always, if you leave them to their own devices, they either won’t hurt each other or will leave a couple of small punctures around the face, ears, and neck. The argument might last a minute from start to finish, though the time usually seems a lot longer to the people watching. Once the dogs are done, they’ll shake out their bodies and offer each other social reconciliation behaviors or just go about their business, paying each other no more mind.”

We hope you never have to deal with a real dog fight but it’s always better to know how to break one up in the off-chance it happens.  Your adrenaline will be rushing but try to quickly calm yourself down and consider your options.  If you are concerned about your dog getting into a fight consider carrying one of these devices the split up the fight.  Do you have any other tips for dissolving a dog fight? Let us know! 

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