Breaking Up (A Dog Fight) Is Hard to Do!

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Dog Fights Can Be Terrifying; Thank you to Dog Breed Spot of the Picture

Ever wonder how to break up a dog fight?

My best advice is NOT TO!

Most of the time people incur serious injury when they try to break up a dog fight.  But, I also know that it is instinct for most people to want to save their dog or dogs once a dog fight breaks out.

So here is my best advice….

Don’t do it!  Risking your life and your ability to do simple things like holding a fork, spoon or your toothbrush can be more important than saving your dog.

Let me Explain

Most people see two dogs fighting and their instinct is to run in the middle and take both dogs by the collar and try to separate them.

Frequently, this only irritates the fighting dogs and one or both of them may spin around and bite you in the hand or arm and then resume fighting.

Even your own dog is likely to bite you because he is caught up in the moment and doesn’t even realize he is biting you.

Getting bit in the hand or forearm commonly requires reconstructive surgery.  The bones and tendons in the hand and forearm are very sensitive and it takes what seems like very little damage to do permanent impairment to your hand and your ability to grasp and hold onto things.

Various people rely on their hands to help them make a living, whether you are a dog groomer, computer programmer, or even a writer or cook your living could depend on your ability to utilize your hands normally.

I once had a friend that was a K9 officer in the Air Force, one of the guys that recently converted to K9 had dropped his hand while catching a dog (on a bite suit) and the dog locked onto his hand ripping and tearing and then jumped up to his forearm.  He needed reconstructive surgeries and would require a lifetime of physical therapy.  He was only in his 20s.  I have always worried about how he would be able to make a living and support his family but I am thankful he was in the military as most of it will be covered in some way.

Even if you are lucky, when you are bitten and don’t require a lifetime of surgeries and physical therapy; you will still incur the pain and trauma of a dog bite neither of which is fun!

But I Know You Are Going to Do it Anyway….

I can tell you horror story after horror story and some people will still get involved.

So I will give you the tricks of the trade that I have learned over the years.

The first is to weigh your danger.  Don’t just jump into any dog fight!  And, sometimes the fights between family member dogs can be worse than those between previously unknown dogs; because of the pent up hostility and previous knowledge of behavior.

Don’t waste your breath yelling.  The two dogs that are fighting almost can’t hear or don’t care about anything else going on in their environment.  They won’t even hear or acknowledge you.

Adding pain in the form of hitting or shocking the dogs will often escalate the fight and make it worse, so don’t hit them with anything or expect a shock collar to work.

Be Careful at Dog Parks

Breaking up a dog fight usually requires two calm people…

If you are not as calm as possible the dogs can feed off of your fear and energy.

Take a breath and be as calm as possible before jumping into the situation.

Next each person should get behind each dog (hopefully their own dog) and lift up the dogs’ hind legs and begin to circle the dogs backwards and hopefully out of the fight.

The picking up of the back legs usually throws both dogs off balance and they release their grips on one another for a brief moment.

Do Not let them go once they release their grips!!  They will just run back together and fight again.

Continue circling with their back legs lifted toward an exit, a fence or a kennel area where you and the dog can be safe.

This continued circling keeps you safer; if you don’t let go because the dog will have trouble getting a grip on you, because if he swings around backwards he is likely to fall on his face, if he is still worked up from the fight.  Once in the secured area the dog can be released as long as you are not going to be bitten.

If this is not your dog and/or he is still agitated make sure you can enlist the help of another person to leash  or utilize a rabies pole to keep the dog at a distance.

If You Are Alone…

You will Have to Secure the Dog Yourself if You are Alone

If you are alone you will have to tie a leash around one dog’s mid section or back leg securely and then drag both dogs (still fighting) with that leash toward a place where you can securely fasten the leash..a tree or a fence.  Next you will have to go to the unleashed dog, lift his back legs and begin circling him out of the fight.

There is a chance for significant more damage to you when you are alone!  Be very, very cautious!

Once the dogs are safely secured you may begin to assess the damage.

I recommend wrapping their snouts with their leashes because a dog in pain, even your own dog, will bite.  This will allow you to assess any damage stop the bleeding and get the dogs to a vet.

Apply pressure to wounds to stop the bleeding.

Always keep a list of veterinarians and emergency vets handy, either marked in your phone or listed in your car, just in case.

Arm yourself with knowledge, but always take your own safety into consideration FIRST!

There are 100 Comments

  1. guadalupe says:

    what do you have to do if you have two dogs one is really small and the other one is medium and the medium is always trying to bite and pull and sit on the little one please tell me.


  2. Rose says:

    My dog Blue,which is a pointer boxer mix, ran out of our gate and into our nabor’s up the road.’who lets their dogs run freely around the street’. Their gate was open and so my dog and their dog got into a fight. I stepped in and got a lil to close and the dog bit me in the Shin, (luckily I had shin gaurds on because I was about to go to soccer practise). The dog finally retreated but my dog tried to go after it, but I pretty much tackled him (kinda stupid thing to do). luckily he realized it was me and sat. And those people still haven’t learned to close their gate. My dog no longer tries to run out of the gate thankfully. The dog had gotten his leg a little torn, but their was not really any damage luckily.


  3. Gryphon says:

    I haven’t had the occasion to separate fighting dogs but have wondered how I would react in such a situation. Your advice I’ll keep in the back of my mind for just such a day. That said, it still seems an unadvised to break up a dogfight. Just too many risks involved. Better to treat your dogs resultant damage that to face significant damage yourself. Tough call to be sure, though.


  4. Sammy says:

    I go to the dog park all the time and although my two tiny chihuahua’s are well behaved I have had to break up other peoples dog fights. I always did it the wrong way. Straight for the collar. I never got really injured though, thankfully. So this is good to know.


  5. jeannette says:

    Thanks for this great information. It comes late for my two fingers, only lost tips but, the one is very painful even years later. The last fight where I got bit came from my neighbor trying to help me stop a dog fight. Lost the tip of another finger. Still do not have all my feeling back but, sure looks better. Next time I will use these techniques. Thanks again for this information.


  6. Jennifer says:

    This works. I used to have two dogs that would get into it sometimes, and this is the method we used. Very effective.


  7. Grace says:

    I used to have a giant border collie mix and a med sized brown dog . The border collie was the alpha dog and whenever my kids would pet the brown dog , the bc would get so mad and start a fight. They were always inside when the altercations would start so I would immediately grab my heavy duty laundry basket and put it over the smaller brown dog to protect her then have one of my kids hold the basket down. While I grabbed the bc and took her outside. Releasing the brown dog ,I then waited for about 5 minutes and let the bc inside. They would active nothing happened


  8. Judi says:

    If dogs are really fighting water hose doesn’t work. Had a female german shepherd less than 1 year she attacked my 4 year old spade female shepherd would not stop had spray nozzle on hard spray right up her nose and mouth don’t know how she was breathing but she would not let go. finally got a 2×4 jamed in her mouth and pryed it open and beat her with another. Spent 700 dollars on my 4 year old. 2 days later she attacked my 4 year old male shepherd. Found her a home with no other dogs. My dogs were completely obedient trained. so when I yelled the other dogs stopped fighting back. I had one other female shepherd who was 5 yrs old and attacked another of my dogs I had only had the female for a couple of months but she would not let go until I pryed her mouth open and yelled for help from my friend to drag her off. These attacks happened in my back yard for no reason. The dog she attacked was a neutered male about 18 months old he weighed 140 lbs and had very long heavy fur so he was not hurt. When I yelled he just laid down and let her chew on him. I still love german shepherds but don’t blame pit bulls for not letting go. But obedient training is a must. When I yell no they had better stop what ever they are doing.


  9. sue says:

    My two dogs have not gotten along since one was a puppy. Im not sure who the aggressor is but theyll fight to the death. I made the expensive mistake of not securing the latch on ones crate when I was taking out the other. I was alone and it was next to impossible to separate them. Water doesnt work, neither does noise. I finally grabbed their leashes and looped them around their necks and choked them until they let go and I could throw one out the door. I have a puncture on my hand from prying open their mouths but how could i let them kill each other? I took the more injured one to the er and she required stitches. The other had some punctures that ill follow up on at my regular vet. One of the dogs isnt people or dog friendly except for I or my husband. I think its due to severe anxiety. I would almost get rid of her but surely she’d have to be put to sleep. It can be very difficult to keep two dogs separate at all times. I feel bad about my stupid mistake.


  10. Pam says:

    Great info…I would have never thought of these ways to break up a dog fight!! THANK YOU! :>


  11. Tru dy says:

    I have 3 dogs. Two standard poodles 4 & 5 yrs old. 1 rhodesian mix who is 10 yrs old. The 10 yr old always picks on the 5 yr old poodle. He plays gatekeeper and will not let him enter a room. The 5 yr old just stays away most of the time, however, when the 5 yr old is sitting with me the 10 yr old has attacked him and I got bit in the hand. Not too bad, but very painful for several weeks. The 5 yr old sometimes tries to go after the 10 yr old, when he has had enough bullying, and the 4 yr old jumps in to stop it. almost like he is saying “are you nuts”. The 10 yr old weighs 81 lbs, the 5 yr old weighs 47 lbs. I know the 10 yr old is the “alpha” guy, but do not like the way he treats the poodles. I hope I can keep the peace.


  12. Tina says:

    This article helped me one day. My Bull Terrier was attacked by two other dogs as I have just entered the dog park. Luckily, nothing more happened, but the owners of the other dogs were rather smoke a cigarette.


  13. alicia m says:

    I have two dogs that have recently been i 4 fights they hate eqach other after loving each other for 2 years so we seperate them. Well my husband jumps between them every time like a idiot, but i grab back legs and pull one but they locked their jaws but finally seperated my ? is today i was alone and they started they are so trying to kill each other they are every where there is no way to get a rope around ones waist any other ideas?


    Minette Reply:

    Keep them totally separate. Otherwise as you say they are going to kill each other… at that point there is not much you can do


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