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How to Safely Breakup a Dog Fight

We recently had a pet owner come into our clinic who's dog got into a fight with another dog she was babysitting.  She tried to break up the fight and in the turmoil, not only did she get badly injured, but also her dog.

Understand that even the best tempered dog's behavior can unpredictably change given the right environment and circumstances. When your dog is in public, you cannot completely control the environment. You need to know how to respond.

If you take your dog out in public, knowing how to safely break up a fight is your responsibility as the pet owner. This knowledge protects yourself, your dog and also other people. Be prepared to safely take control of any situation.

  • Always be prepared for a fight. When you allow your dog to play with other dogs, when you go to the dog park, a hike, or any where dogs commune together make sure you have safety equipment readily available.
  • DO NOT USE ANY PART OF YOUR BODY TO BREAK UP A FIGHT. Do not use your hands, feet, or legs!
  • A popular method of breaking up a fight is to pull the dogs apart by their back legs. We do not recommend this method. When doing this, you put yourself in the perfect position for the dog to reach around and bite your hand. Remember, when their adrenalin is pumping dogs move very quickly! They will be able to bite you hand before you can move.

1. Create a distraction

  • Yell, scream their names, clap, bang something
  • Tools to carry with you to create a distraction (i.e.whistle, blow horn, noise maker such as rocks in an aluminum can, etc.)

2. Use an inanimate object (or water) to separate the dogs

  • Anything!
  • chair, back pack, cot
  • Blanket, jacket, t-shirt
  • Water gun or bottle that sprays

Always be aware of your environment. Look around and have an object in mind before something happens. Once distracted, grab the collar and immediately slip a leash around their neck.

Safety equipment you should always have on your person

  • Noise maker. Any of the objects listed above. A whistle works very well and is easy to hang on to.
  • Slip leash that can easily be placed around a dog’s neck quickly. If your dog (or someone else’s dog) is off leash you need to be able to restrain them quickly. A leash that latches to the collar will not be helpful in a fight.