Whole Dog Journal Tip of the Week: Breaking Up Dog Fights
There is no golden standard for breaking up a dogfight, but there are as many opinions as there are dog owners. My recommendation is to try a sudden aversive, such as a loud noise near the combatants as a first line of defense. Bang pots and pans or steel water dishes together while yelling. Cease the instant the dogs disengage.
If this doesn’t work (try for two or three seconds, then move on), the two most experienced people, wearing the animal control gloves, will each pull one dog off as follows:
1. Grip the base of the tail where it joins the body
2. Pull both dogs simultaneously quickly out and up, raising the rear quarters off the ground
3. Secure both dogs with leashes and assess for damage.
If this doesn’t work, use citronella and, if that doesn’t work, pepper spray. Other people present should be securing all dogs not involved in the fight.
The very last resort to consider is pulling dogs out by their collars or necks. This is because of the significant risk of an accidental or re-directed bite. This risk is even greater if you are without gloves, which offer some protection. Many of the worst bites are sustained putting hands into fights.
For more information on ways to separate aggressive dogs as well as ways to use behavior modification to retrain an aggressive dog, purchase Jean Donaldson’s FIGHT, A Practical Guide to Dog-Dog-Aggression.