Breaking Up (A Dog Fight) Is Hard to Do!
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….
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.
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…
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!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.