How to Break Up a Dog Fight Alone

don't break up a dog fight alone, if at all possibleEver wonder how to break up a dog fight alone? My advice is DON’T DO IT! Most of the time people incur serious injuries 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. But 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.


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Let me Explain

Most people see two fighting dogs 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. dog bite injury

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 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! dog body language

Sometimes the fights between dogs from the same family 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 fighting dogs almost can’t hear or don’t care about anything else going on in their environment. They won’t 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.

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 aggressor

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…

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 fight injuries

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!

Dog to Dog Aggression

Dog-to-dog aggression is a very common form of aggression in dogs. Its root can usually be traced back to poor socialization; a dog who was poorly socialized as a puppy may be aggressive.

The same applies to dogs who were in isolation as a puppy and continued to be socially neglected as time wore on.

When it comes to dog to dog aggression one of my favorite animal training quotes says. And the same can be said about dogs…

dog on dog aggressionOne of the most important things you can do to help your dog NOT be dog-to-dog aggressive is to make sure he is properly socialized as a pup, and not fearful around other dogs.

Most people think that proper socialization is just letting your dog hang out with other dogs, like by taking them to a dog park.

But what they often fail to realize is what types of dogs usually go to dog parks?

ANSWER: Other dogs who also need socialization!!!

So, if you’ve got a dog who is dog-to-dog aggressive, don’t think that just dumping him into a dog park is going to help you – it won’t.

Here’s why…

From our experience, dogs who are antisocial actually have a very specific problem.

They don’t know how to read the body posture and cues being given by other dogs, and this makes them more likely to be fearful and overreact with aggression, because they are essentially blind to “getting a read” on how other dogs are feeling about them.

As you can imagine, if you couldn’t tell the difference between whether another dog wanted to play with you or bite you, that would make it pretty hard to be a confident dog in a social setting, wouldn’t it?positive reinforcement

Because you wouldn’t know how to read other dogs, you’d be full of social anxiety about whether how you were behaving was being accepted or rejected by the other members of your pack.

A properly socialized dog does not have this problem, because it has learned how to read eye, body, posture, and tail wagging cues; which researchers believe is the non-verbal language dogs have evolved to communicate with each other from the wild.

Unsocialized dogs simply haven’t learned this language yet; that’s why they struggle to get along with dogs who have.

If you feel like your dog is bad at reading other dog’s social cues, we have a Socialization Course that helps dogs learn how to read other dogs.

Invest In a Dog Walking or Daycare Provider

We always recommend to new puppy owners that they invest the extra money into finding a local doggy daycare, dog walker or pet sitter that has pre-screened their dogs as ‘dog friendly,’ where you can expose your dog to proper socialization.

When you bring your dog to a doggy daycare facility where they can interact with a whole pack of other friendly dogs, here’s the beautiful thing that happens…

  • Your dog will have a desire to do something, let’s say it’s to wrestle with another dog
  • There will be some dogs who want to wrestle at that moment, and…
  • There will be some dogs who don’t want to wrestle at that moment
  • Your dog will attempt to wrestle with one of them and will either be met with a “NOPE” response from that other dog (with some sort of avoidance response) or your dog will be met with a “SURE! Let’s Play!” response.


Over the course of a week, your dog’s behavior towards other dogs will be continuously met with a variety of social body cues that you or I could NEVER hope to teach him. These are cues only taught by other dogs. And if he’s met by negativity there is almost undoubtedly another dog in the pack who’d be happy to play.

Only in this type of environment can your dog quickly learn how to tell the difference in body language between dogs who want to be left alone, and dogs who want to play; and this allows them to learn how to read social cues and start to respect how other dogs want to be play

But if your dog is like a social ‘bull in a china shop,’ and thinks everyone should want to play with him, when you introduce him to dogs that aren’t as willing to play… (where your dog continues to try to play, oblivious to the other dog’s social cues that they don’t want to play)… your dog is going to end up getting bitten over and over again… and will start to think that all other dogs are bad.

So please, when getting your dog around other dogs, do it in a pack environment, that way at least one dog in the pack will want to play rough, and your dog will learn how to tell the difference between the one dog who wants to play and the others who don’t.

So that’s step one ?

Signs of Stress

Get To Know Your Pup's Signs of Stress

  • Shaking
  • Stiffening of the bodydog bearing teeth
  • Dilated pupils
  • Being able to see the whites of the eyes
  • Tail tucking
  • Showing teeth
  • Avoidance or walking/running away
  • Choosing to lay as far away as possible
  • Rolling over with the belly exposed
  • Barking, Growling or crying


If you see a multitude or mixture of these behaviors get your pup out of the situation, but don’t coddle, hold, or fawn over your pup when he is scared.  Simply back up to a more comfortable area so that you can offer calming signs and the ability to reward your pup, never leave on a bad note while petting and cooing to your puppy, this will be misconstrued as praising your pup for his fears.

How to Handle Dog to Dog Anxiety

If your dog already has too much anxiety around other dogs or is an OVERREACTIVE dog when around other dogs (like if he’s lunging, barking or snapping at every dog he sees), then here’s what you want to do.

Don’t allow your dog to get too ramped up around other halter collar

When passing by other dogs on a walk, use devices like a head halter to prevent your dog from getting too amped up and charging off.

It’s a great tool for preventing your dog’s anxiety around other dogs from growing as you take your dog for walks. However, head halters won’t fix your dog’s anxiety, they just prevent it from getting worse.

To attack the root of your dog’s dog-to-dog anxiety, or over-excitement…


Play THIS game with your dog

It’s called the Look Away Game, and it shows you how to teach your dog to control his over-excited or over-anxious, impulsive emotions and behavior when near or around other dogs.

This exercise is the first step to un-training dog-to-dog aggression.

The Look Away Game trains your dog to make eye contact with you when he sees other things like dogs, cats, squirrels, or deer out in his world (note how the trainer in this video doesn’t have to use punishment to get her dog to learn this behavior).

After you watch this video, make sure you download this FREE training exercise that shows you the next steps you need to learn when helping your dog learn to behave around other dogs.


Teaching an Aggressive Dog to Socialize

This is a tricky statement; because as Inigo Montoya says “I do not think it means what you think it means.” When people speak of socializing an aggressive dog, they often mean turning it loose with other dogs, or that is their goal. Many people tell me that they take their dog aggressive dog to the dog park so that he can learn to get along with all dogs.

I’d just like to say, “YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG.” I want my aggressive dog, or my client’s aggressive dog, to simply learn to coexist with his trigger in the environment without any aggressive display. My current Malinois doesn’t like people, and he doesn’t really like other dogs, but you can’t tell that by looking at him.

I have taught him “coping mechanisms” around things he doesn’t like. He doesn’t need to go into an aggressive display. I recognize when he is uncomfortable, and I relieve his stress by giving him something to do and think about.

He also trusts me not to stress him out.puppy behavior training

For instance, I wouldn’t toss him in a dog park and expect him to socialize, and I don’t force him to allow people to pet him. If I did those things, I would have a dog who couldn’t trust me. Then his only coping mechanism would be aggression and using his teeth.

After all, he can’t talk and tell me, or others, how he is feeling. I must get familiar with his body language and levels of stress, and work together to decrease them, not make them worse. So, stop forcing your dog to do things he doesn’t want to do when it comes to socialization.

If he is growling, snarling, hackling, lunging, and trying to get away, trust what he is trying to tell you; HE IS UNCOMFORTABLE! I can’t tell you how often people will say “he lunges and barks at people or dogs on leash” but once he meets them… I’m thinking, “EGADS!!” Why is he meeting them if those are the behaviors you are describing?

This is how people and other dogs get bitten. Just because he hasn’t attacked a person or another dog yet, doesn’t mean that he won’t! I only allow a dog who is happily wagging his tail at about mid body (not too high, because that is a dominant wag, and not too low, because that is a scared wag) to openly socialize with another dog or person. Find out more about tail wags here

train your dogHe needs to trust you not to expose him or force him into bad situations. Without trust, you won’t have successful training, because he feels like he has to defend himself and take care of himself. I mean, you wouldn’t be able to accomplish a task if you were in a situation and you were afraid something bad would happen to you, and you didn’t trust the person you were with to take care of you.

In other words, I am going to drive you to the bad part of town and give you a math test to take. My brother is a police officer so I wouldn’t have any trouble doing this task if he was with me. I wouldn’t, however, be able to do this if I was with the coworker that doesn’t like me.

It is crucial that your dog trusts you. If you want him to ignore the “danger” he perceives, and perform obedience tasks, he has to trust that you can take care of him and you!

The Reward

And, the reward for successfully functioning around his trigger must be greater than the distraction itself! I will also want a hungry dog! If I am going to work on something as important as changing aggressive feelings, I am going to want to ensure that my dog is hungry. A hungry dog is a motivated dog!

Then the rewards that I use are more meaningful. If I took you to the buffet and let you eat till you were full, offering you a candy bar to pick up a snake or let a spider crawl on you probably wouldn’t be effective. If you were hungry and had missed a meal or two, you would probably be more motivated!

Now it is your job to teach your dog how to function around his trigger.reward positive dog behavior

He doesn’t have to be “petted” by people if he doesn’t like people.

He merely has to be able to be around them without an aggressive display.

He doesn’t have to “play” at the dog park or with other dogs.

He merely has to be able to walk past other dogs without losing his cool.

Once you know what your dog needs, being able to trust you and being motivated to listen to you, you will be able to work on his aggression and socialization!



Want To Learn How To Eradicate Nearly ALL Your Dog's Aggressive Behaviors?

  Enroll in our 8-week MASTER-CLASS on Emotional Re-calibration Training (ERT) specifically for Over-reactive, Fearful and Aggressive dogs.

Click here to enroll in the MASTER-CLASS

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  1. Cindy says:

    Great information. I am going to send this link to my helpers. It will be really useful in our boarding program.


    Carole Reply:

    My favorite item is my AIR HORN. I own a naturally dog aggressive breed. The air horn is so loud that even a dog deeply involved in a fight will be distracted long enough to allow the other dog to be removed. One of my dogs had a tight grip on another dog’s throat. With the downed dog already gasping for breathe and turning blue, my air horn gave me just enough time to rescue him from the temporarily frightened aggressor.


    julie Reply:

    thank you for your advice i do have 3 dogs all different personalities molly is the leader when im not there but the boys do try hard to push it hooch has just started showing aggression against other dogs but im quick to see it i feel his energy really well but still, is a worry i like free hands with my dogs but cant trust hooch yet he is young and new to my little pack thanks again .


  2. Victoria says:

    This is great! Thank you for this info; i take my dog to the dog park and I know something like this is bound to happen. Also knowing me I would just jump into a fight. Now I’ll take a second to think if i want to get involved or not. Thanks! Love these articles.


    mike Reply:

    Why would you take the dog to a park to fight? Use your head.


  3. Michelle says:

    This is very good advice.

    This worked for me though I did make a big mistake at first by trying grab a collar and was bitten but not seriously on the hand then I did the wheelbarrow thing by grabbing one of the dogs by the back legs and circling them back to the kennel.

    The last time there was a fight I didn’t try to stop it and tried to remain calm. They did stop on their own and neither had serious injuries. I do have pet insurance just in case. Both times I was alone and it really was scary but I realize as much as I love my dog that is something I have to extremely cautious about jumping in the middle of.


    Linda Reply:

    What kind of pet insurance do you have? There’s so many and many rip you off. What is the best all around insurance? Thanks so much.


    Barb Reply:

    I don’t know what insurance Linda bought, but after extensive research of all of the pet insurance companies and the pros and cons of just saving the money for pet emergencies, I decided to go with Trupanion. I think it had the best options for the least amount of money with a $500 deductible. My shih-tzu is only 1 year old and I haven’t had to use the insurance so I am not a reliable source on how easy or hard it is to make a claim. If you’ve heard bad things about Trupanion, please share.


    Candace Kowal Reply:

    I am also a fan of Trupanion. We had it for the last 10 years of my 12-yr old westie’s life. It has been a lifesaver. She had to have 2 ACL surgeries, 2 yrs apart, & then developed incurable, inoperable bladder cancer which took her from us in March. I miss my sweet little princess. I do have to tell you, we were always happy with Trupanion, & they pay fast.

    Barb Reply:

    @Candace. I’m so sorry about your dog. We do get attached, don’t we! Thanks for sharing your positive comments about Trupanion. Helps me even believe even more that I made the right choice.


    Dia;ne Reply:

    I just purchased pet insurance from “Best Friends Animal Society” Part of the premium goes to Best Friends for there wonderful work with homeless animals.


  4. Jeannie says:

    When my two beagles got into it, I threw the water from their water bowl on them and was able to get them separated from temporary shock, then we got them separated and that was that. If not for the water being right there, I am sure I would have jumped right in. Thanks for the advice, I will keep that in mind.


  5. Sheila Smith says:

    Another helpful maneuver is to throw a blanket or coat over the combatants which temporarily disorients them, protects you some from their teeth, and allows you to grab the hind legs.


  6. Suzanne Gerard says:

    I would not stick my hand into a dog fight but the only time I was walking my own dog and a hostile unleashed dog jumped from his porch and charged down at us, in my best “DO IT NOW!!!” voice, I said , “SIT!!!” To my amazement both did. By then the owner of the unleashed dog had arrived to take his protector back to the porch but now with his leash.


  7. Minette says:

    I am soooo sorry 🙁

    I wish you a speedy recovery!


  8. Cyndiecas says:

    I have a Rotty who is small animal aggressive. Cats, dogs, bunnies, etc…
    Last week he went under the fence in the back from& attacked a small dog. This small dog is aggressive also and started the fight by barking at him on the other side of the fence. The fence belongs to the city as the area behind is a housing project. I took the woman & her dog to the emergency vet, paid the bill, drove them around to places they needed to go. Then I get a letter from a lawyer. She’s suing me.
    I’m crazy over this. She didn’t get but a scratch; her dog is bruised but fine. I did everything I could. Now I’m putting up a privacy fence so I don’t have to go through this again. I’ve got a lawyer called myself & have to emailed pictures of the defective fence which I asked the housing authority to fix for years because I have 2 Chihuahuas who get under it. I never in my wildest dreams thought my Rott would get under
    this dog bit me & attacked my dog a year ago. I have a scar on my ankle. I didn’t file a report, I simply changed my way & never went by them again.
    People always seem to disappoint me. My way is do unto others….not sue.


    Gail Reply:

    That certainly is a disappointing outcome when you have done all you could do. Beware that we live in a society where people are being encouraged (by lawyers looking for income) to sue any time they possibly can. However sometimes they just get a huge bill from a solicitor for their trouble and the case is dismissed. Be hard to feel good about that person again. Try not to lose faith in human nature though because not everyone puts an easy dollar before being gracious.


    Sandy O Reply:

    WOW!!! THAT is crazy. Sometimes I think some people are just looking for a way to sue others, thinking it is easy money :o(

    Dogs are dogs and things like this just do happen because that is what they are.

    It seems to me that she has very little chance to win because of how you handled it (and even paid the vet bill!) AND now are taking measures to prevent it from happening again.

    I really would like to hear how it turns out for you.

    GOOD LUCK! Sandy O


    Tracey Reply:


    I just saw a case like yours on one of the TV judge shows a couple of weeks ago. The person who owned the dog who bit the one suing paid for the medical bills etc, but the guy had other people telling him to sue for damages. The judge could plainly see that the person who had been bitten was out to get money for nothing, and she ruled in favor of the person who owned the dog. I believe the person who owned the dog was planning on counter-suing for his lawyer fees and court costs before he contacted the Judge show, which is something you may want to ask your lawyer about.


    Marilyn Reply:

    This is so sad, but dogs, even ones you think are good can start fights. I have had many dogs throughout the years but few problems. I now have a very big dog who started to get aggressive to other dogs, cats and anyone walking across the street a few months after I got him (he was dumped on me). Dog trainer said is a good trainable dog, but needs to know who is boss. It is working, but I still do not entirely trust him while around other dogs so we are taking it slow and easy there. A little sniffing while both on leash and then stop. Anyway Cindie’s comment drives one thing home hard – if you have a dog, you need to have shots and license – AND HOMEWONERS OR RENTERS INSURANCE. It would help in a suit – which is probably what the plantiff is hoping for. On fences, normally, if a fence is on the property line, then the first one to want it fixed pays for it. Perhaps, you should get the fence fixed or put cinder blocks or boards over the damage to prevent escapes. Good luck.


  9. amber says:

    My mom tried to stop a fight at 4am and got the tip of her finger bitten completely off sh
    e had to have several skin graphs done


  10. Jerome says:

    Thanks for the advice very very useful. hopefully i may not need it but you never know, especially if i go to the park.


  11. carol young says:

    That sounds great advice as I have a pug puppy and look after another just over a year old and they do not leave each other for a second the youngest is mine and she bites the other continually on the neck which has left her with open wounds that needed antibiotics, she is also biting me on the toes, hands, fingers face and gets her teeth into my clothes and pulls, when I try to stop her it makes her worse and she doesnt let go, I am covered in bite marks and scratches and the bites are really sore as she breaks the skin. If you can give any advice for me that would be much appreciated.


    sos Reply:

    Carol Young…. the best thing that you can do is surrender your dog(s) to a a local Animal Rescue Group as your post indicates that you do not know how to train or control the dogs that are in your care. The behavior that you describe is enough in itself to have them taken away from you or even possibly destroyed if local authorities deem them vicious. I am sure that they are not, but when you publicly post things on the Internet, it is open to interpretation. Please, please, please contact your local Animal Rescue Group and ask for assistance….Animal Rescue Groups specialize in taking on animals that can no longer be safely handled by or cared for by their owners. The fact that your pups have “covered you in bite marks and scratches” indicates that you have not control over these pups.

    I urge you to surrender them to a local Animal Rescue Group that can provide care and services that can rehabilitate them for a new home where they will not pose such a risk for such aggression and personal injury.


    GaylaT Reply:

    You better get that youngster into a training program in a hurry. At a year old his pattern for adulthood is well advanced. He has learned he is top dog and reminds you and the other dog over and over. Evidently it’s working well for him but ask yourself how it’s working for you. Every day you allow this behavior it is more inbedded into who he is and who he is is not a nice fun dog to be around. You are on a site for dog training so my advice is to sign up asap. Little dogs do a lot of damage and if he does it to you why would he not do it to a friend or neighbor? You have your work cut out for you. Good luck.


  12. Gwen says:

    All I can say is lucky!!
    Maybe you should go by a lotto ticket today.


  13. Sandy O says:

    The info in this article is quite interesting and helpful…but…for my situation it does not really seem to apply.

    I have a male doxie (7 years old) and a male & female chihuahua (9 & 8 years old). The doxie was the last dog we got, who we try to keep as the omega of the 3 we have for the very reason I will describe.

    In the past 3-4 years, one quite recently, the doxie attached my male chihuahua. The chihuahua ran to get away each time since he really has no chance in fighting back (by now he has lost most of his teeth).

    Twice the doxie ended up getting the chihuahua by the throat and started shaking him. It is very hard to get the doxie to let go because he has such a strong jaw. The last time he had the chihuahua cornered before getting a hold of him, but get a hold of him he did. I ended up grabbing the doxie by the tail and raising my arm up as high as I could. He still went bonkers trying to get the chihuahua after he dropped from the shock of me picking him up. This went on for a good couple of minutes as he was actually fighting in the air as if he was still in the physical fight. I think I may have even broke his tale.

    The first time there was really no harm, the second time some really bad scratching and a small spot of blood on his uper shoulders, the last time he had some shallow puncture wound on his throat.

    I make sure I am always near them when in the house (actually, they always follow me around) and are crated at night and when I am not at home to keep them safe. When outside roaming the yard, I try to keep a watch, but generally, they don’t get into each others way since the yard is big enough.

    Always, except for these 3 times, the doxie will just walk away from the chihuahua when the chihuahua grumples at him or even “hip chucks” him. Neither of which I allow and the chihuahua always stops when I tell him to, which I do right away just in case the doxie gets fed up with it.

    I’m not sure about how to prevent these situations. I am pretty sure, since the damage escaclated with each attack, that the chihuahua will get severely injured if it happens again.

    Sad thinking about it…Sandy O


    Minette Reply:

    Some dogs simply need to be kept separate if you expect to keep both.


    Sandy O Reply:

    Thank you for replying to my comment :o)

    I am not sure I could get rid of one of them after all these years :o(

    Additionally, the doxie appears to be dog agressive, definatley had to stop bring him to the dog park after he turned 1 or 2.

    The chi has been marking the house since we got him 8 years ago. He was abused by his first owners until we took him in just after his 1st birthday. I can’t imagine anyone would wanted to take in a dog who does that! Well…except for us, appearantly (rolling eyes here) LOL and a wink

    Thank you again :o)

    Sandy O


  14. Lois says:

    Great advice! I have always jumped in by grabbing my dogs tail and pulling him away. I see now how in the heat of the moment he could have easily turned and bittten me if he chose to. Grabbing the legs and having them lose their balance seems such a better method.


  15. Edra says:

    As a child not 10 years old, I stopped a few dog fights without injury, each between my grandmother’s unaltered male and another. SHEER LUCK AND GUARDIAN ANGELS! I can only guess that Timothy sensed I was unsafe. Luckily I learned better before I got bitten.


  16. Elizabeth Carpenter says:

    Thank you for this information. I have been told to grab the tail and pull backwards. It seemed to me that the dog could swing around and bite.
    This wheelbarrel style sounds to be a much safer way to break them up.
    I hope to never have to use it but great info if I need it.


  17. Stella says:

    I built a boarding kennel and ran it for 20 years. Before that, I
    worked part-time as a bartender. I had occasion to break up a number of fights (fewer dog fights than bar fights). One thing I found to
    be effective is cold water – whether from a hose, water bucket, or pitcher of ice water. Though not always available, it can quickly
    defuse a hot situation.


    Minette Reply:

    Although water is not always readily available, if it is I spray genitals…water on their heads is not usually enough to break up a serious dog fight! But sometimes a spray to the belly or testicles will!


    Jim Flood Reply:

    I hope we are talking about the dogs here 😀


    Minette Reply:

    bahahaha you could also try on the owner 😉 I know sometimes I would like to 😉

  18. Robert says:

    I heard carrying a pepper spray or simply packs of pepper was the safast way to break up a dog fight.Any thoughts?


  19. Anne says:

    I usually pour a bucket or jug of water on the dogs and it stops the fight instantly.


    Petros Reply:

    YES! I always thought this was the best way to stop fighting dogs and I have ALWAYS observed it to bring instant results! In fact I thought this was the advice being given to everyone! Would welcome comment from author of this article.


    Minette Reply:

    Well, I hope EVERYONE is doing this!

    But what we think of as common knowledge in “this business” is not always something the average dog owner knows 😉

    I think this is the safest way and almost always works!

    Water, noise, pepper can help sometimes but sometimes you don’t have these things available or if the dogs are really into the fight they don’t work at all!


  20. Helene says:

    I heard that carrying a pepper spray or packs of pepper was the safest way to break a dog fight….any thoughts?


    Sue Reply:


    Pepper Spray has been very effective but there are considerations like wind direction, others in the area and do on. Pepper packets I am not so sure about. Since Pepper Spray is actually a much more potent substance-Capsaicine not pepper, I would not expect regular pepper to work. I have also had postive results carrying Bear Spray, which I also carry with me for Bear and Mountain Lion. Just remember if there is wind, anyone and anything down wind will also be sprayed. Also if you or your do are exposed do not rub the area just rinse with lots of running cool water.


  21. Vince Brunet says:

    Great info hope I never have to use it. Any thoghts on how to reduce or stop a dog from shedding hair.



    Nancy Lockner Reply:

    There is a product called missing link available at pet stores or online, It reduces shedding, I have 2 shorthair dogs who shed year round. Amount of shedding is reduced when used along with a good quality food. sometimes it is a allergy to ingredient in food being fed. I fed my dogs one national brand supposed to be great quality bought it at a local pet store. My oldest dog lost hair by handfulls. So change of food might help.


    Sandy O Reply:

    Ha ha ha…wouldn’t THAT be great!


  22. Fran says:

    Luckily, I’ve never had to use this information. My beagle is very tame, but the only time he gets scary is if I try to take a bone out of his mouth. Any ideas? Of course, I have total faith that he can chew anything safely, but I would prefer to know that I could get it from him if necessary. He does smell things that I never know are there.


  23. Judy J. says:

    I must say, very interesting. I will diffinitely remember that. Thanks so much for the info. Judy


  24. Julie says:

    A few weeks ago while walking my golden, a dog jumped a 6 ft. fence and attacked my dog. No warning–just went right for my dog and started biting. My dog is very submissive and only cried–didn’t fight back at all. The attack dog was totally focused on causing injury to my dog. As you said, my first reaction was to pull the dog’s collar and try to get him off my dog. Then I worried that if I got him off my dog, he might go after me. So I stopped and just started screaming for help. The owner finally heard me and came out of his house to pull his dog off mine and get him secured. Luckily, my dog had only a gash in his side and no other injuries that the vet could find. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever encountered. I’ve lived in my neighborhood for over 40 years and have never been afraid to walk my dog. I am now! I’ve started carrying pepper spray on our walks now. What do you think of that as a deterrent?


  25. Autumn says:

    How does circling keep you safer? Are you circling the dogs around each other, pivoting or making a full cirle with each dog individually?


    Sharon M Reply:

    The way you circle the dog is so the dogs head is facing away from the other dog, and then you move that dog out of the immediate area. The other dog will usually stop fighting. Try to grab the dog on top or who has ahold of the other dogs neck.


  26. Cheryl says:

    I am wondering what would happen if you used pepper spray? I walk my little dogs on leashes and am always worried about the other dogs that might be roaming, would the pepper spray stop something without permenently harming the dogs?


    Minette Reply:

    I use to carry a squirt bottle of hot sauce when I had a dog aggressive dog and use to walk her on a leash.

    Usually just a squirt in the general vicinity of an off leash dog was enough to make them stop and go the other way.

    Premier makes a dog STOP citronella spray.


    Cheryl Reply:

    I wasn’t thinking about a hot sauce but pepper spray for people or bear defence.


  27. Cecily says:

    What do you mean by circling the dogs backwards?


    Minette Reply:

    you walk backwards in a circular motion so that the dog doesn’t have the ability to whip backward toward you and bite you as easily.


    Jeff Reply:

    Yeah, I still don’t get what you mean by “circling backwards.” Can you be more specific?


    Minette Reply:

    As you pick the dog’s back feet up you walk backwards but in a circle and away from the other dog.

    This circle keeps the dog thrown off balance because he too has to cross his paws over paws in a circle; so it is less likely that he will whip backwards and bite you.

    It also helps to break his mindset; which is usually to get right back into the fight.

    If you just take the dog by his back legs and walk straight backwards, the dog can turn around and bite you more easily. By walking in a circle it is still possible, but will be much more difficult for him.

  28. Cathy Bunn says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! This article is very timely as my husband is recovering from our dogs getting into a terrible fight. He was bitten many times on his hands and forearms and is in PAIN! I have been bitten as well in the past and had to go to the urgent care for antibiotics. I so appreciate this advise and now know what to do when they do it again….and they will!


  29. Anne says:

    I have usually found that dumping a pail or jug of water on the dogs breaks-up the fight and leaves them confused. Water guns don’t work, they are just like poking 🙂


  30. Jeanne Carr says:

    Thank you so much for your Dog Smart Articles. I find myself looking forward to them. They are always imformative, easy to understand and very well thought out. Thanks Again.


    Minette Reply:

    Thank you Jeanne! I appreciate knowing that people enjoy the work I put into each article 🙂 I enjoy writing them!


  31. My son has Two Great Pyrs, a Bishon and a mixed bree. Your training secrets are eEmail is ; xcellent and common sense, Please add him to your mail list. His name is Peter R. Berry, . His email is; Thank you.

    Janet E.Berry


  32. Luann says:

    BLOW A BULLHORN Works at my dogpark They hear the noise and run opposite directions


  33. tannim says:

    hello. i love this information cause for me i ave 2 puppy’s at about 10 weeks old . i have not have a dog for at least 20 years so getting this information is get now i will not get hurt if i see my dogs in a dog fight i know what NOT to do and be safe for my self and for my puppy’s for when they get older. thanks for this and please keep up the information for dog owners.


  34. Carol says:

    I was the owner of 2 female chows the 2 did’t get along together they were sisters so I kept them seperated I had one tied to a fence the other on was 20 feet tied to a cable dog leash that one chewed threw it and went after the other one I grabbed the leash and pulled the aggressive one into the hallway she had a hold on the other dog,she finally let go, the aggresive one had no cuts on her the other one had cuts on her neck I was a nervious wreck I had to find a home for one of them I wasn’t about to go through that again.


  35. Teddie says:

    What a great tip! I wish I knew this trick about 12 years ago. I was dog sitting my sister’s Dobermans (3 of them) for the summer. One of the males slipped inside and started a fight with the other male. I thought they were going to fight to the death!

    I got the female doberman secured in her crate pretty fast, 1. to keep her safe, 2, so I could figure out how to break up the fight. Of course I tried grabbing a collar, only to get bit a few times in the process. Luckily, They didn’t do any damage, but I do have scares on my hands.

    Thankfully, there were some contract workers across the street. I went running over there to get help. And thankfully neither dog was injured too bad. just a few bite marks on each dog. but, there was little blood splatters all over the living room and kitchen.

    That was certainly one dog experience I will never forget!


    Minette Reply:

    Dog fights can be terrifying! Especially if more than one of your dogs is involved!!


  36. Cuz says:

    This really works!!! I have done it before. I had 2 Chow brothers, they used to get along great. Then, one of them got sick & had to have some surgery. After I brought him back home, they were very aggressive towards each other. I thought it might be just at first because he smelled differtly because of the medication, but even after he was back to 100%, they still fought. So, this is exactly what I did. Nobody ever told me to do this, but it was the only way I could see to break them up without getting in the middle of it. One had a leash on which I grabbed & hooked over the gate latch, them I grabbed the other’s hind legs and walked him backwards into the house. Very scary, but I only got a couple of scratches and no bites. I ended up giving away one of my babes because I was afraid they would hurt each other or somebody else.


  37. Podie says:

    I think it is helpful if you can identify the aggressor. That’s the one you start with when you grab the rear and pull backwards. I’ve seen this done successfully. The dog who was attacked fought back, but when the aggressor was pulled away, the second dog did not follow. Then, both dogs walked stiffly away.


  38. Stephen says:

    One thing that you can do at home is a good old garden hose. My two Aussies went to fighting and once that stream of water hit them, it was all over. The face and muzzle is a good place to aim for. Plus you can stand a good ways away and let them have it. Works for me. Now when they act up, they heard the valve being turned on and the fight is over.


  39. One or two folding metal chairs forced between the dogs OFTENTIMES breaks up the fight without getting the hands near the fighting dogs.

    Attempting to break up a fight, when I did not have a metal folding chair, I got severely bitten by both dogs on both hands. A tendon severed was not properly corrected and I’ve lost at least 70% of one finger. I was luckier with the right hand – I’m right handed.


  40. lisa says:

    my yorkie always starts the fighting first with my daughter female pom.. b4 i could seperate them in different rooms for about 20-30 minutes then all will be fine, then about 3 yrs ago they got into a major fight and my yorkie want hasnt let it go, if she see’s or hears kyla’s name she want to fight, both dogs has been fixed plus we have another female also fixed and my yorkie dont bother her, and my yorkie get along with other femsles so i dont knoe ehat else to do.. what can i do so they can be in the same room?… I REally need UR HELP ON THIS.plz me back asap


    Minette Reply:

    Not all dogs can safely live together in the same house/same room.

    Many dogs will fight, some to the death or dismemberment of the other.

    It is about what you can control and what you can’t and what you are comfortable with.

    Some people keep dogs like this and have separate “shifts” one dog inside…one dog outside etc. And, some people have to rehome dogs that want to kill each other.

    Not all dogs can get along!

    contact a veterinary behaviorist if you are having problems and you want to work them out, they are the only ones that can come out and see the aggression and the problems with your dog specifically.

    I can’t see your dogs, so I can’t give you specific advice on aggression that could get you and your dogs severely injured!


  41. Violet James says:

    Thank you so much for this advice. When i was walking my two very young dogs, a Border Collie and a Maltese terrier I was confronted by two very angry big dogs,I pushed my dogs behind me and shouted STAY with the flat side of my hand in the air. They skidded to a stop, and shaking i told their owner that they should be on leashes. I’m 72yrs and wouldn’t stand a chance.


  42. Teressa says:

    This is very good information but I also know from experience that you can spray water on them if you have a hose around..


  43. Kane says:

    Interesting article. I have two dogs male staffy x pitbull and female mastiff x i believe is pitbull although the owners told me staffy when i got her as a pup. They are nearly 3 and have grown up together love each other and hate being sepperated.

    They have had two fights both pretty horrific. The first was about 3 months ago just before we moved interstate. We were at the park i had finished throwing the ball for them i had the female sitting with the leash on her she had dropped the ball. The male came over and i went to put the leash on him but she attacked him i had tryed getting behind both and pulling them of i was unsuccessful. They would fight for a few minutes then have a breather and go back again i continued to try to seperate them had no luck finally the last time they were on the road i yelled at them to go home.

    They had blood all over them and so did i blood had dripped on the pavement at home i had to scrub went back to the park grabbed the leads and everything and spoke to the neighbour who was screaming while they were fighting. I had to clean all the blood of them and the wounds the female had a bad wound on her leg that took about a month to heal.

    A week later i moved interstate they couldnt fly straight away the male had a ear infection. So i didnt see them for a bit over a month. when they got here i would walk them together one day i let them of the lead at the park with no ball i had decided their would be no balls because they got jealous.

    This time i had the male sitting with the lead on him and then when the female came over he attacked her. Same thing again i didnt have water tryed to pull them apart this one didnt last as long. But the damage to the female was worse this time took her to the vet she had two deep wounds one on her neck and one on her chest the vet said she was very lucky if it was a cm to the left a main vein or something could have been punctured that was a month ago she is still healing.

    Now i walk them seperatley and let them of individually at the park they are fine. I have been using the ball to throw for them they are fine its just hard seperating them when i go for a walk they cry and howl but i dont want them to hurt each other and would hate to have to seperate them.

    Other than these fights they are the most beautiful dogs. People always comment on how well behaved they are their not even 3 yet and so well trained its just their is jealousy or something? they have never attacked another dog or fought at home they no better than that.

    I know their will be people who want to comment on the fact that they are pitbulls and yes the damage they can do is scary. But their are dogs that attack humans and dogs alot more frequently its just the media that has put the spotlight on pitbull. actually look up the stats and you will be suprised.

    When i was a kid i got bitten on the head by a rottwheiler and had to have stitches in my head. Another time i was walking my mums dog a ridgeback and two german sheppards attacked it the owner had to pick up them and throw them in big green bins. Before our ridgeback we had a bullterrier that got attacked by our neighbours german sheppard who bit its ear of.

    My Grandma has two staffys and i often take my dogs their when i visit and when i have inspections i take my dogs their overnight. My grandma addores my dogs and often comments on their beautiful personalities and how well behaved they are. Especially my male she wants to steal him she doesnt know that they are crossed pitbull she shares this belief that they are all bad news and “hates” them thanks to the media, one day i will tell her im sure she will change her tune.

    Anyways, if anyone has any suggestions on what i could do to be able to walk my dogs together again?
    My female sometimes does show a little bit of aggression to other dogs if they bark at her which needs to be fixed to?


  44. eve says:

    A large dog attacked my small dog when we were out walking. The large dog came out of his yard and across a wide street and an island to reach us. The owner was screaming for him to come back but otherwise couldn’t control him. The dog had my smaller dog by her waist and began to shake. I reached down to grab her and the large dog bit me in the hand – I ended up having plastic surgery on that hand and my small dog spent a day and a night in the hospital and was laid up for weeos. Of course, I was afraid to walk my dog for months. I asked the large dog’s owner’s insurance company to pay my hospital and medical bills and my dog’s vet bill. The insurance company paid my bills but refused to pay the vet bill so, after a couple of years I sued them and recovered my actual losses. Please don’t always blame lawyers, when dealing with insurance companies you usually have to sue them if you want them to pay for your losses.


  45. Cathy says:

    If you have access to a hose, use that to spray both dogs. That will work most of the time. I have no idea how you got that lease around that dog’s waist (in one of your photos) without getting bit. Pretty amazing!


  46. Whisperingsage says:

    Carry a pocket tazer, this is the only thing that effects my dear loving pit bull, who still loves to fight. And I am always alone. If the other dog is a really small one like a toy breed, you will HAVE to get involved or the small one can be killed. We all should be able to remember some idiot small dog who challenged a large one. Our family had several small dogs and they always had the Small man’s syndrome. Shock the big one. Before pocket tazers, I just had to take a shovel to my own dog and hit him as hard in the head as I could. (his head was fine) He was attacking a dog being walked in front of my property, a large breed, but mine was a pit bull my mother had lovingly decided I needed. She had this infatuation with this breed for the last 24 years. I now have to deal with her three legged but still fighting pit bull, who is a love to me but a terror on everyone else.


  47. Betty says:

    Almost 20 years ago, when I was living out in Ohio, I adopted two unneutered male dogs. One was a chow and the other was a bearded collie. They got in 2 fights. In the last one, the chow had the collies muzzle in his mouth so the collie couldn’t breath. I grabbed a big metal pan lid or bowl(can’t remember exactly what it was now) and shoved it in the chows face and pushed till he let go. I was not hurt at all. Once they were separated, I kept pushing the chow away and got the collie out of there. They both went to the vet to have their bites treated and I had them both neutered. One of my neighbors admired the chow, so I wound up giving it to him. A few years later I was living in Iowa and those neighbors had to move and either find a new home for Charlie the chow or take him to the shelter. They called me and told me the situation and asked if I wanted him back. I said “Yes”, so they drove all the way out to my home in Iowa with him and left him with me. The collie and chow never fought anymore. I have a 130 lb neutered male black lab, a 75 lb spayed female Staffordshire Terrier (“pitbull”), and a 50 lb spayed female beagle-terrior mix (She looks and jumps like a Jack Russell). They all get along fine. I’d never try to have two unneutered animals of any kind again.


  48. Beth says:

    we adopted a 2 yr old Lab/pitbull in Feb. 2012.. she is spayed, has her shots, and we have had her thru intermediate training. she is great with just me and my spouse. when company comes over, we put her into the bedroom and close the door. she barks for about 10 -15 minutes, then calms. we give company treats to give to her then let her out of the bedroom. she is calm then, accepts the treats and usually lays down. however, if someone goes to the bath room, when they come out again she starts in all over barking. I hold her, hold her mouth, tell her to stop. it is scarry. any suggestions? In addition, she does not like other dogs. when walking her it is a struggle to keep her quite and undercontrol around other dogs. once we pass the other dog she calms down and heels again. I carry a whistle and sometimes that stops her, but not always. have I bitten off more than I can chew?


    Minette Reply:

    Keep her on a leash, she needs to be controlled and taught her boundaries. Your guests don’t need to be threatened!! And holding her mouth is liable to make her worse! Use a gentle leader if you need when people come over but do not grab her face!


  49. Wendy says:

    I’m just home from 10 days in the hospital form a dog bite to my hand. Our two male Rat Terriers went at each other and I was bit trying to break up the fight. The wound was deep and became infected as did the wounds to the younger dogs face. We are both on the mend now, but tough lesson learned. In the aftermath, we decided to have the younger male neutered in hopes that it would at least slow some of the fighting.


    Minette Reply:

    I would neuter them both!!


  50. India says:

    The most effective way I’ve found to put two dogs apart is throw a bucket of water at them! Only throwback is you need a tap near. And a bucket. But it works great!


  51. 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.


  52. 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.


  53. 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.


  54. 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.


  55. 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.


  56. 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.


  57. 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


  58. 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.


  59. 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.


  60. Pam says:

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


  61. 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.


  62. 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.


  63. Minette says:

    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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