When you see two dogs begin fighting right in front of you, what do you do to break it up?
- a) Shout ‘No!’
- b) Throw something at the fighting dogs.
- c) Pull one or both dogs apart by the collar.
If you have done any of these choices, you probably know which one is more effective. And that is letter b, which is basically distracting canine fighters to take the steam off their brawl. But that is not the only way to break up a dogfight, especially when the encounter is very intense.
Before we talk about the most effective way to stop a dogfight, let us take a look at what you should not do. We’ll also discuss how to read the signs that tell you that a fight is coming. Knowing these signs will help you effectively break up a canine scuffle within the shortest time possible. This way, you protect your furry friend from being harmed by or aggressively engaging with other pooches.
NEVER Do These During a Dogfight
As mentioned, screaming at fighting hounds and pulling them away by the neck are bad ideas. The added noise can agitate them further and even intensify the brawl. If the fight is very serious and intense, both dogs will not hear you at all. They are concentrating on each other and have become oblivious to everything around them.
Also, pulling them apart will only get you injured. It is akin to joining the fight and making it a three-way encounter instead.
- Don’t use yourself as a shield and jump in between the brawling pooches. You will get bitten yourself. Always remember that when dogs are highly aroused, they are less able to notice anything else around them, including their owners. Their whole attention is on the main cause of their aggression.
- Don’t panic. Canine pets can sense your energy and even draw from it. As such, panicking will only make the altercation worse as it boosts the fighters’ agitation.
- Don’t handle the dogfight alone as much as possible. When the other pooch is not yours, there will be two of you trying to end the fight. But when the riot is between your own dogs, you should get someone else to help you calm them down. However, there is a way to break up a fight safely on your own. We will get to that later in this piece. As much as possible, you should have an extra hand in stopping a dogfight.
How to Spot the Signs and Prevent a Fight
Prevention is better than a full-blown situation. If you see the following signs, take action before it escalates to a full-blown brawl:
- Lip licking
- Snarling or showing nearly all teeth (which sometimes get mistaken for a smile)
- Deep growling
- Crouching, tail tucking, backing away, or other submissive positions
- Turning the head away with flattened ears
- Rigid tail and body
- Whale eye look (dog’s eye is still on the target whilst turning his head to another direction; the whites of the eyes are more visible; this typically means that the dog feels anxious, frightened, or threatened)
When you notice many or all of these signs in your dog, take him away from the cause of his aggression. Move him to another place or put a barrier. You can also distract him with a toy.
RELATED: The Smart Pet Owner’s Guide to Dog Body Language
The Safe Way to Stop a Dogfight Quickly
When a canine scuffle breaks out:
1) Take deep breaths and stay calm.
You need a clear head to assess the situation and identify whether it’s just a canine argument or a full-blown fight. If you are dealing with the situation alone, you need to determine the attacker or the more aggressive pooch. He is the one you need to take care of first.
2) Distract the fighters.
The safest way is to throw a jacket, blanket, or some other cloth that can effectively cover their eyes. If the cloth is not very wide, throw one on each dog. If the fight is outdoors, you can hose both pets to break their frenzy. Indoors, you can throw a bucket of water on them. You can also spray some citronella or vinegar right above them to distract them. If your dog had a bad experience in a dogfight, it might be a good idea to carry an air horn with you during walks.
3) Pull the dogs apart using the wheelbarrow method.
Once they’re distracted, work on pulling them apart by their back legs right away. This process must be done for both fighters at the same time. Stand behind the dog, grab his back legs, and hold them up. This throws the pet off balance and makes him let go of his bite. The top pooch should be the one pulled away first.
Then, carefully walk backwards following a circular pattern. This helps disorient the dog and prevent him from turning around and attacking you instead.
If your dog tends to display aggressive behaviours, as detailed in the list of signs, train him out of them. You should also avoid aggressive play with him (e.g., tug of war). This will help prevent future fights.
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