Let’s face it, for most of us a dogfight is a very scary thing, especially when one of the dogs in the fight is our own. So what do you do? Here are some tips on how to break up a dogfight.

First, remember that in a dogfight, the dogs believe they are fighting for their lives. They are usually oblivious to what is going on around them, due to their focus on the event at hand. This is why yelling at them rarely works. And this is why you should proceed with great caution. All dogs have teeth, and in a dogfight, they use them (obvious, I know). It is important to remember that if you attempt to break up a dogfight, you yourself could get hurt, so be careful.

Second, stay calm. Yelling and screaming actually could elevate the stress level of the dogs and increase the energy they have focused on fighting. Staying calm will also allow you the opportunity to more clearly think of what you should or should not do.

Third, do not hit or kick the dogs as this could make matters worse. As stated above, this could raise the level of stress, making them fight harder. Also, if you hit or kick the dog, he/she may think that the hitting or kicking is coming from the other dog, causing them to fight even harder. Also, do not use cattle prods or shock collars, as some suggest. This also may cause the dog think the other dog is causing the “shock”, and increase the fight drive. Instead, try the following approaches:

Grab the dog(s) by the hind legs (preferably by the feet), and lift. This is an effective way to break up a dogfight because dogs get their strength and leverage from their rear legs. Raising the hind legs forces the dog to focus less on biting/fighting and more on balancing. Keep in mind, however, that doing this could cause the dog to turn its attention toward you. So, be careful. Once the dogs let go of each other, back them away from one another and don’t let go of them, or they may begin fighting again.

Grab the dog(s) by the collar and pull back. Remember to be cautious…the collar is awful close to the mouth! Once you are pulling back on the collar, if the dog doesn’t release from the other, begin twisting the collar in order to make it more difficult for the dog to breathe. If the dog is struggling to breathe, it will let go.

Use water to distract them. Sometimes pouring water on dogs or spraying them with a hose can distract them long enough to pull them apart. This, however, is not as effective as some of the other methods for breaking up a dogfight.

Find something to wedge between the dog’s teeth, like a strong, flat object. Just be sure not to get your hands too close to the dog’s mouth.

If there are people around, such as children, who cannot protect themselves, make sure to keep them at a safe distance. And of course, after you have stopped the fight, check the dogs for injuries, and seek medical attention, if necessary.

One final thought. Never try to break up a dogfight by yourself. It is simply too dangerous. Get someone to help you; dogfights can turn ugly in a hurry. Whatever method you choose to break up a dogfight, remain calm, have a partner and act quickly.

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