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How to Properly Break Up a Dog Fight

July 5, 2011

First of all, we want to say that real dog fights are extremely dangerous and that we do not suggest attempting to break up a dog fight if you are alone. The risk of serious injury to you is far too great when dogs are in survival mode. However, we realize that you may be alone when a dog fight occurs and will give you tips below if you choose to act.

Why do dogs fight? Here are some common reasons:
-fighting over a valued possession such as food, or a special toy
-access to resources (people, resting areas, etc..)
-unstable environments
-two unaltered males, testosterone in action*
-two unaltered females (a fight between two female dogs is typically the most brutal and dangerous)*
-unstable leadership within a group, often times the owner might say, “They work it out on their own.” Do not believe this, or allow it if you own multiple dogs. This is dangerous and poor advice. Your dog depends on you to be its leader and protector.

*Unaltered dogs are looked at as higher threats by dogs. Unless you are an extremely experienced handler and qualified breeder, we do not suggest owning unaltered dogs. Us humans have enough hormones for the both of us as is! 🙂

Things to NOT do when dogs are fighting:
-the use of shock collars (all this does is amp up the dogs even more, and does nothing to break up a fight)
-attempting to grab one of the dogs by the collar to separate (you WILL get bitten) This is a common mistake.
-yelling and screaming does nothing if dogs are truly in fight mode
-squirting water at dogs that are truly locked into fight mode will also do nothing, so don’t waste time on this if your dogs are attacking one another

The Steps You Take to Break Up a Fight with Help, The “Wheelbarrow Method”:
1. Simultaneously, each of you will loop a leash under the dog’s belly, directly in front of its back legs. If leashes are not around, grab the back legs of the dog. See picture—>
2. Lift both dogs up and turn in a circle, while increasing your distance between the other dog as much as possible.
3. Do not expect these dogs to be ok with one another right after a fight. Separate them in secure areas. Look over each dog for injuries and treat accordingly. Vet visits are normally necessary.
4. Time to call for help from a qualified trainer.

The Steps You Take to Break Up a Fight if Alone:
1. If leashes are around, grab two leashes (or more, depending on how many dogs are fighting).
2. Loop one of the leashes around the dog’s belly, directly in front of their back legs. See picture above ^
3. Using the leash, lift the dog’s body up and off the ground, while turning in a circle.
4. Move the dog (you often will be dragging the dog while it continues to fight) to a secure spot. Make sure the dog is securely tied.
5. Do the same thing to the remaining dog.
6. Keep dogs separated.
7. Time to call for help from a trainer.

Real dog fights are extremely scary to witness. Ideally, you want to avoid a dog fight from breaking out in the first place. This starts with a stable group structure at home. It is also crucial to know how to read a dog’s body language. We will be writing a follow up post about this in the future.

A professional trainer will not only help you with prevention, but can also help show you how to create stability. Prevention, knowledge, and anticipation of signals are key tools in properly managing your dog’s behavior. Please, please, please email us if you have further questions, or concerns.

Post Written By: Laura Neiheisel

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About Austin Dog Zone

Austin Dog Zone formed in 2011. We offer dog training for all breeds and temperaments. We are committed to staying up-to-date on the most current scientific research available for dogs regarding both behavior and wellness. Our methods are effective, dog-friendly and family friendly.

2 Comments to “How to Properly Break Up a Dog Fight”

  1. April says:

    Thank you. I hope there is a day soon when no one will need to know this information let alone use it. That said, I am thankful that you’ve provided the information. Thank you again!

  2. Austin Dog Zone says:

    We agree, April! You are very welcome. 🙂 Thank you for your engagement and comments, we really value them!

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