Sometimes dogs fight – it doesn’t happen very often but when they do you need to be very careful before breaking it up. It is quite common to get bitten, even by your own dog if you put your hands in.
When a fight occurs it is important that you approach the situation in the calmest way possible. Dogs are amazing creatures and can settle their differences largely without fighting. Dogs give off calming signals (appeasement signals) to help calm down situations and 9 times out of 10 the situation will diffuse.
When the Fight Occurs
There are a number of tactics that can be used in order to break up a fight, but it is important to remember that when a dog is fighting they are in that moment and not easily distracted. Yelling the dog’s name or screaming “NO” at him may not to have any effect.
Water –A simple solution is to throw water on them. A bucket of water is fine, but a garden hose is your best bet to effectively break up the fight.
Object Redirection – Dogs are easily distracted and objects they love can often distract them. Wedging an object between two fighting dogs can distract them enough to stop fighting. This should be done with extreme caution to avoid being drawn into the fight. The use of a broom handle or throwing a ball can sometimes be effective. You could throw in a rucksack or even your car keys – it may be enough to get them out of “the zone”
Pull Them Apart – If you are fortunate enough to have others around you, you may be able to pull the dogs apart. One person takes on one dog and pulls them apart by grasping onto the hind legs of the animal. Do not jerk the dogs apart because you could end up injuring their back legs in the process. With a firm hand pull the dogs far apart, but be careful because the dog can quickly whip around and come after you.
Prevention is always the best way to not have to worry about breaking up dog fights. If you pay attention to your dog and the surrounding dogs you can see the aggression in their body language. Most fights occur over territory and a dog standing up for his territory will have fixed eyes, stiff body and often lower their head and glare at the intruder.
Training is also a way to avoid a fight situation. A good recall is important as well as social skills and etiquette. Dogs require social skills just like humans do and depriving them of the vital social skills can leave them nervous and vulnerable to attack.
All fights may not be able to be prevented, but a little know how can save your dog from injury and allow him to be able to be around other dogs whilst out dog walking without incident.