When two dogs start fighting, whether they are two males, one male and a female or two females, it can be difficult to separate them. How do you stop a dog fight?
Avoid fighting beforehand
Before talking about separating two dogs fighting, you should know that there are several options to anticipate a dog fight.
#1 If your dog tends to be aggressive
One the one hand, if you know that your dog is more of a fighter, don't take any risks and keep him on a leash as much as possible. Also consider speaking to the owners whose dog is loose that your dog tends to be aggressive and that you would prefer that they keep their dog away to avoid the encounter.
It may not be what you wanted for your dog, but it will prevent:
- Fights – or at least you will be able to intervene more easily in case of a fight since you will have the advantage;
- Complaints from masters whose dogs are loose.
If you absolutely want to be able to untie your dog – which is legitimate – take the time to desensitize your dog to other dogs. There are several solutions for this:
- You can teach him the “Leave” order, which is intended to ask your dog to turn away from an item of interest (another dog, something to eat…);
- Ask for help from a dog behaviourist or a dog trainer. These professionals will help you understand your dog's reactions and desensitize him. An aggressive dog can be a frightened or stressed dog, for example. Professionals are helpful in reducing your dog's aggressiveness.
#2 If your dog is loose
On the other hand, if your dog isn't particularly aggressive but you have a tendency to let him loose, you should teach him to stay away from dogs on leashes – especially dogs that show signs of nervousness.
Indeed, as seen previously, a person whose dog is aggressive will logically tend to keep his dog on a leash and will verbalise the fact that he does not want your dog to come near.
Teach your dog the commands “Leave” and/or “Go around” so that he doesn't approach the dog that seems uneasy. You can also teach your dog the command “Stop” so that you can take the time to reattach him before both dogs pass each other – it will be particularly useful in the case of narrow paths and mandatory close crossings.
As a general rule, avoid hugging your dog. This can be uncomfortable for both the aggressive dog and your dog and can complicate the situation.
Stopping a dogfight
Fighting is inevitable – worse than that, it's already started. How do you stop a dogfight?
#1 The STOP order
Whether your dog is the attacker or the attacked one, try to remain as calm as possible and give a simple but firm order – such as “XX, Stop” (XX being the dog's name). Don't yell – or you'll get both dogs even more excited.
#2 Immobilize the two dogs
Grabbing only one of the two dogs is not a good solution: once the fight has started, there is no more attacker and attacked, both dogs are at full strength. By grabbing only one of the two dogs, you do not prevent the other dog from attacking and biting you or your dog.
However, if the other owner is also present, you can each grab your dog by his hind legs or ribs to pull him towards you and separate them. Calm them both down by pulling them apart and reattaching them.
If the other master is absent or if you are unable to stop the fight, try distraction. Here are some ideas:
- Drop an object to make noise and surprise the two dogs so they stop;
- Throw a blanket over their heads to blind them: both dogs will try to free themselves before thinking about continuing to fight (this is especially effective if you are at home and the two dogs fighting are yours);
- Throw cold water on their heads: again, this will surprise them and should pause their fight for a few moments.
#4 In last resort
If the other handler is unable to intervene, one of the dogs is in danger, and no other method works, it may be necessary, in last resort, for you to intervene by force.
The least dangerous – for the dog and for you – is to kick one of the two dogs in the butt. This should give you the opportunity to tie up the dog.
#5 What not to do!
During a fight between two dogs, you absolutely must not:
- Putt your arm in opposition: this is the first reflex of the master protector but it is certainly not a good reflex to have. It is the best way to get bitten by one of the two dogs.
- Catch your dog by the testicles – this advice is sometimes given! You risk being bitten and/or injuring your companion.
The most effective way to stop a dog fight is to prevent it from starting. If it does, there are several tricks that can work. Only use force and violence as a last resort if one of the two dogs is in danger.
Passionate about dogs since I was a child, I adopted my dog from a shelter 4 years ago. Thanks to her, I learned many things: the most adapted food, education, how to welcome a dog… I keep on discovering new things and share them with you here!