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The Safe Way to Break Up a Dog Fight

 by lucy on 30 Jun 2016 |
1 Comment(s)
Like CPR or the Heimlich Maneuver, breaking up a dogfight is one of those skills you hope you never use. The fact is, however, not all dogs get along. The best way to deal with a dogfight is to watch for warning signs and stop aggressive behavior before it escalates. Sometimes, however, a full-fledged fight is already underway.
Your first instinct when a fight breaks out between dogs is to reach into the scuffle and grab your dog by the scruff of his neck. This maneuver, however, is more likely to leave you injured than stop the clash. Instead, if you and another person are breaking up a fight together, you should each grab a dog’s back legs and raise them up, just like you would lift a friend’s legs while doing the “wheelbarrow” when you were a kid. Without the use of his back legs, your dog will have no choice but stand on his front legs, precluding any efforts to continue fighting. Back both dogs away slowly, continuing to hold their legs in the air while you move in a backwards arc that will prevent your dog from reaching around to bite you. Once the two dogs are safely separated, try holding your pet securely until he is calm. It will help to turn him so he’s facing away from the infringing dog and distract him from his tiff.
Breaking up a dogfight up solo is significantly more challenging and dangerous, but you can proceed with caution if necessary. First, get a leash and then slowly approach the more aggressive dog until you’re close enough to loop the leash around his midsection. You’ll want to catch the dog just in front of his back legs and slip the free end of the leash through its looped handle so you can pull the loop taut. You can then pull the dog backward until you find something to fasten him to, such as a telephone pole or fence post. At this point, shift your focus to the second dog and grab him from behind using the technique described above. Again, pull him at least 20 feet away from his adversary and restrain him until the dogs are calm or help arrives. In both cases, remember to remain calm and avoid screaming or panicking, which can further agitate the dogs.
Breaking up a dogfight is dangerous and should only be a last resort. The best way to prevent injuries to both you and your pet is to know the warning signs of a fight and prevent the kerfuffle before it happens. If your dog is “smiling;” cowering and looking away; licking his lips; yawning; turning away and flattening his ears; flicking or tucking his tail; or turning his head away from the threatening dog while keeping his eyes on him, you can be sure a fight is about to break out and you should separate the two dogs immediately.


Dana Harris - Comment
Dana Harris20 Aug 2016Reply
Great advice! I had a veterinary behavioral specialist advise this over 20 years ago and it is surely the most tried and true method I have used.

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