Fighting - how to break up a dog fight

Sometimes, despite your best efforts to monitor their interactions, dogs get into fights. To reduce the likelihood of injury to all parties, follow the guidelines below.

Don't panic

If you stay calm, you’ll be able to separate two fighting dogs more safely and efficiently.

DO NOT grab your dog by the collar if he or she starts to fight with another dog. Your dog may instinctively whip around to bite you, even without any past aggression.
You might also be on the receiving end of a bite that was intended for your dog.

Plan A: use a barrier

Before you attempt to physically separate two fighting dogs, try these methods:

  • Try spraying the dogs with a hose or dumping a bowl of water on their heads. Pour the contents of a cold drink (carbonated or fizzy drink is highly recommended) over the dogs if that’s all you have.
  • Throw a large blanket, towel, a tarp or a jacket over both dogs. Some dogs will stop fighting when they can't see each other anymore.
  • Try putting something between the fighting dogs. e.g. a garbage can, a large piece of wood or cardboard, a folded lawn chair.

 Plan B: physically separate the dogs

If other methods don’t work or aren’t possible, you will have to physically separate the dogs. 
  • If you’re wearing pants and boots or shoes, use your lower body instead of your hands to break up the fight. If they’re covered, your legs and your feet are much more protected than your hands, and your legs are the strongest part of your body.

    It is not necessary to kick or try to hurt the dogs; the goal is to separate them.

    Be aware you are at potential risk of injury yourself. This method is not advised for large dogs, such as German shepherds, since it is possible to receive collateral damage from a nasty bite.
If you feel that it’s necessary to grab the dogs, use this method:
  • You and a helper or the other dog’s owner should approach the dogs together. Try to separate them at the same time.
  • Take hold of your dog’s back legs at the very top, just under the hips, right where the legs connect to the body. Avoid grabbing the lower legs. If you grab a dog’s legs at the knees, the ankles or the paws, you can cause serious injury.
  • Like you’d lift a wheelbarrow, lift your dog’s back end so that the back legs are lifted off the ground. Then move backwards, away from the other dog. As soon as you’re a few steps away, do a 180-degree turn, spinning your dog around so they are facing the opposite direction and can no longer see the other dog.
  • Once the dogs have been separated, keep them out of each other's sight. They may start to fight again when they see each other. Put your dog in the car or behind a closed door as soon as possible. Use a belt or a tie as a temporary leash if the dog does not have one.
    If you are alone, tie one dog to an immovable object and remove the other dog to another location.

Finally, know your dog

Just like humans, body language plays an important role in canine communication. Start being aware of your dog's body language so you can detect when your dog is uncomfortable around other dogs and more likely to respond in an aggressive manner. Examples can include:- stiff body, hackles raised, stiff wagging tail, direct eye contact, dilated pupils, turning head away and lip licking. When you notice changes in your dog's body language, you can calmly remove your dog from the situation and environment and prevent an aggressive confrontation.

Furthermore, if your dog easily escalates to aggression or gets over excited in play or worried around other dogs then consider using a Halti head collar. A head collar will allow you to redirect your dog's head as soon as he/she start to aggress or show signs of distress.

Pet type(s): 
Pet library topic(s): 
Behaviour
Tags: 
how to break up a dog fight
dog fight
dog aggression

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