The best advice for breaking up a dog fight is avoiding one in the first place. As pack leaders, it is our responsibility to know and understand that our beloved pets are pack animals with animal instincts vastly different than our own. As responsible pet owners we must take responsibility for avoiding circumstances that invite trouble. However, it “takes two to tango” and should you and your dog happen upon a situation absent a second responsible pet owner or other circumstance out of your control, here are a few tips to remember when safely breaking up a dog fight.
- If you are leaving the confines or your yard or other secured area, always have an additional leash for the dog you may encounter.
- Have a plan.
- Proceed with caution and confidence, don’t panic.
- Work quickly yet methodically with the conviction that in some instances the best answer may be to back away and allow the dogs to fight it out. Although this is a difficult thing to do, it is a better alternative than you becoming seriously injured or dead. More than 180 people die every year as a result of dog bites/attacks.
- Avoid the impulse to grab a collar – It is too easy for a dog to whip around mistaking you for a dog and bite the first thing in which he can sink his teeth. This is only redirected aggression, it is a reflex and therefore, uncontrollable by the dog.
- Avoid the use of electronic collars or other stimulation (cattle prod, taser, etc.). The use of such devices is likely to only increase the dog’s drive and the severity of the fight unless you have previously trained the dog to come to this.
- Attempt to startle the dogs – if you are in your own home try banging pots and pans together. If you have access to an air horn let loose a quick blast. IF this option is going to work it will be in the first 3-5 seconds. Do not continue to use this approach if it does not work immediately, you are only wasting time.
- Attempt to interrupt the dogs by dumping or spraying water on both dogs. If you have access to water this may work, but again, IF this option is going to give results it will be immediate.
- If all other attempts fail – go for the legs.
- If you are alone… grab one dog by the highest point of the back legs. You want to grab the muscular portion where the legs meet the back end. This will provide you maximum control of the dog at the furthest point from the jaws. This will also force the dog to focus on his balance and distract him from the fight. Do not grab low on the legs as this may only cause injury to the dog and provide you an unstable point from which to work. Once you have a firm hold on the dog, begin to back away toward an anchor point. Use the extra leash you have brought with you to tether the dog. If by chance this dog is not wearing a collar, loop the extra leash securely around the hind quarters of the dog and tether this to a secure point.
i. You have the option of using the extra leash to loop around the hind quarters of the dog from the beginning instead of grabbing the legs. Should you be without an extra leash, a jacket, shirt, rope, or chain could be also be used.
- If you are working with another person…At the same time, each of you grab a dog at the highest point of the back legs as described above. Begin to pull the dogs apart by backing up with the dog you have grabbed. As you back away, begin to rotate as if backing a wheelbarrow in a circle. You are attempting to remove the dogs from each other’s sight. When you are a safe distance apart where there are stationary objects, tie each of the dogs off. It is preferable that at least one dog be confined in a crate, kennel, vehicle, etc.
Once you have mentally and emotionally recovered from this experience, don’t forget to assess what went wrong, how the situation was avoidable and what/if you would do anything differently in the future.
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