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How to Break Up a Dog Fight

Have you ever been in the uncomfortable position of having to break up a dog fight?

It can become a very dangerous situation very quickly and must be acted upon quickly.  If you have fears that your dog might be aggressive towards other dogs, don't risk your dog, yourself or other dogs by allowing them to come in contact.

If your dog shows signs of aggression, we recommend that you seek the professional help of an animal behavioral expert or dog trainer.  Locally to Cedar City and the Southern Utah Area, D&B's highly recommends Gail Workman.  You can find out more about her here.

The safest way is to try to distract them.  Loud or sharp noises, many times work.  A water hose, if one is accessible, is always a good way.   Sometimes just a firm command like "Leave It" can suffice.  Another good idea is a small hand held air horn (these can usually be purchased at a dollar store and are small enough to fit in your pocket) or a pet corrector.  The noise could distract them long enough to take their attention off the other dog long enough for you to grab your dog.

It seems that most people immediately grab for their dog's collar when their dog is engaged in a fight.  This could be a disastrous mistake.  The odds of you getting bitten or badly injured is very high.   This method has also been found to be ineffective.  When dogs are in "fight mode" they are also in survival mode and are most likely not cognizant of their owner.  They might mistake you for another attacker or a threat.

If there are 2 or more of you there to break up the fight, it is recommended that you each pick up the dog's back legs and pull them backwards (like a wheelbarrow) until they are separated and back a good 20 feet.  Keep hold on your dog and try to turn his attention away from the other dog.

If you follow this process, and keep moving backwards, it takes your dog off balance because he is on his front legs and it won't allow your dog to continue fighting nor will he be able to reach behind and bite you.

If you are alone and trying to break up a fight, take great precaution.  Try to ascertain which dog is the aggressor and work on that one first.  Take your leash try slipping the free end of the leash through its looped handle, and then pull it taut.  Immediately back away, as you pull the dog, till you get to something you can fasten and secure the dog to, perhaps a park bench, fence post or a telephone pole.

If the other dog has followed you while securing dog 1, use the same process of lifting the back end of the second dog in a wheelbarrow fashion, backing away at least 20 feet and find a way to restrain him until help arrives. 

First and foremost, do not scream or panic because chances are you will agitate the dogs further.

The best method is teaching your dog avoidance.  A dog that stares down another dog is threatening and challenging.  If your dog is staring down another dog, raises his tail up high or raises the hackles on his back, use precaution.  You should be able to read your dog's "signs" and avoid the situation but if the other dog is the aggressor and you see these "signs", it is recommended that you leave the situation immediately.  Please click here for pictures on how to "Read Your Dog".

Many dogs will respond to authority and listen to your command of "Go Home" or "Leave It', "Get Lost", "Stay" etc. but if not, back away slowly and do not turn your back on the dog.  Avert your eyes down so as not to challenge him but still be able to watch his movements out of your peripheral vision.