It doesn’t mean your dog is a bad dog, but there can be some extreme consequences to dog fights. All too often, our instinct is to jump in and stop the fight. It’s a great instinct and can serve you well, however, if we are not careful about the way we get involved, we can quickly become the victim of the attack ourselves.
So what can you do?
1 - Try to stop the fight before it even happens!
Make sure to observe the body language of dogs. They don’t usually go straight to fighting, but give each other warning signs first. If those signs are ignored, then the fight can escalate quickly. These signs can be verbal, with low grumbling and growling or more physical, with stiffness of body, facial tension, freezing, direct staring, snarling and baring teeth. If you see any of these signs, step in quickly with a strong verbal correction to de-escalate the situation.
2 - If you have missed the window for prevention and the fight has begun, stay calm.
- If you have an object around that will help make a loud noise, you can attempt to throw it or bang it in an effort to cause enough distraction to stop the fight.
- If you have access to water, use it. It can be a spray from a hose, a glass of water or a squirt bottle with water and vinegar. You are looking to break the concentration.
- If you have access to a blanket or jacket, throw this over the dog with the most intensity. Again, you are looking to break the focus of the fight.
- If you have a leash available, you can loop it under the dog’s belly, as a sling, to help you pull up on the back legs like a wheelbarrow. This can help disengage the dogs.
- If you have someone else available to help, you can each grab the back legs of either dog and yank them away from each other. Be aware though, there is a possibility, if they are still super focused on the attack, that they can turn and bite at you, so leashes can be helpful here to avoid getting your hands in the mix.
- If you have nothing to use to break the focus, you can attempt to make a quick jab at the ribs of the aggressor, which will force the dog to open its mouth and let go of the other dog. This is about timing, so make sure to watch for a safe moment and act quickly.
DO NOT reach your hands into the mix by trying to grab at collars to yank dogs off of each other. Invariably, you will get attacked in the process. DO NOT put yourself in between the dogs. Make sure to stay behind the dog to attempt your intervention and avoid redirection of attack.
** This important blog post was written by our Lead Trainer: Mark Dunlap