How To Break Up A Dog Fight

Call Today!
Sam Basso
PHOENIX , AZ AREA: (602) 708-4531
OR, if you are out of this area, inquire about a telephone or e-Lesson
Email: [email protected]

How do you break up a dog fight? Here is my general game plan:

1.) there is no safe way to break up a fight. A person or dog can get hurt. So, the objective to minimize risks and damages. if a dog comes at you, feed them something to bite, like a jacket, shirt, purse, etc. If you can’t handle the risk, then don’t get involved. I can’t write an article that addresses every precaution, so you do this at your own peril.
2.) you have to take control of your emotions. Getting angry, yelling, getting hysterical will add to the fight. A clear head is necessary… and very hard to maintain. Hitting a dog will make the dog more aggressive.
3.) you have to take control of the scene immediately. There is no way to anticipate every scene, however. No two incidents will be the same. Experience and judgment matter.
4.) get minors out of the area. Command them to leave, physically remove them if necessary. Give calm instructions to those around you.
5.) If you have help, get any surrounding dogs away from the fight. A crowd adds to the fight.
6.) Three general principles to stop a fight; a.) Startle: sometimes spraying a hose, dropping pans, etc. will cause a brief pause; b.) Physical barrier: sometimes you can insert something between the dogs, such as a baby gate or sheet of plywood; c.) Release: have adults grab each dog by the hind legs, lift the dogs back feet off the ground, and if that isn’t working try flipping them upside down… this sometimes causes the dogs to release their bite; or if a dog is locked on to another dog, the pit fighters would use a large wooden screwdriver to pry the jaws apart. Once apart, lead them away, check for injuries and get them treated professionally. Take photos. Get names and phone numbers.
7.) Locked: if locked onto a person or animal, if you just pull you’ll cause even more tearing and injuries that won’t heal properly. There is a nerve point behind the jaw at the base of the ear that can be jabbed with a thumb which can cause a dog’s jaw to pop open. I’ve seen it done but have never done it. As a last resort, you can choke out a dog to make them pass out, using a leash. Sometimes calming the situation causes a dog to let go, too. A dog that has been trained to release on command is better able to let go, such as a police dog.
8.) Cool Down: People make the mistake of putting dogs back together too soon after a fight to see if they can make friends again… which never works. There needs to be a cool down, just like after people have fought.
9.) Take Responsibility: if you piss off the other person, then you get a lawsuit. If you act responsibly and remorseful, and offer to pay, that seems to be the best strategy. Obey the law. Get a lawyer if it is going to get into a legal battle.
That’s my general game plan. It can change depending upon the circumstances, so you can’t set this stuff in stone. Wisdom and experience are the best defenses.
I advise if you are going to an off leash park, to wait about 10 minutes outside the fence. Size up the people and the dogs first. Leave if you see tension, or the people look like low lifes, or the dogs are not getting along happily.

A lot of dog fights are because of stress. If you can’t get the dogs to be relaxed around one another, then you can’t do an introduction. Sometimes the stress can’t be fixed, such as if there are 10 dogs living in a home. Crowding activates territoriality. A territory is where an animal lives and obtains its life resources. In times of famine or over population, wild animals will fight and force the weaker ones off the turf to go find their own territory. But, in a home, they are trapped behind 4 walls so they fight and can kill one another. For some dogs, 2 is a crowd. There are other reasons for stress, but this is an example. A good, professional dog behaviorist should be able to advise you more specifically.

Sam Basso is a professional dog trainer and behaviorist, in the Phoenix/ Scottsdale metropolitan area. He’s known for being fun, kind, intelligent, and humane. Sam Basso has a unique personal touch. He has appeared on his own TV show, been a guest radio expert, gives seminars, publishes a dog related blog, does rescue volunteering, and is active in promoting animal welfare and fair dog laws.