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How to (More Safely) Break Up a Dog Fight

Many of us have had the unfortunate and frightening experience of witnessing a dog fight, sometimes with our own dog involved. It's hard to know what to do in this situation when your adrenaline is pumping and things are happening so quickly. Naturally, it's better to prevent a dog fight from occurring if you can, but sometimes they happen. Here are a few tips on how to break up a dog fight - preferably without getting hurt yourself.

Don't get involved unless you have to.

Some dog fights sound a lot worse then they are, and are over with very quickly. It is ALWAYS dangerous to intervene in a dog fight, and no matter how careful or prepared you may think you are, there is always the potential of getting hurt.

Don't rely on any single way to break up the fight.

Remember that there's no single, tried-and-true method for breaking up a fight. Use what works, and be prepared with an alternative just in case the thing you try first doesn't work.

Get help if you can.

Having a second person to help will make things much easier. Call for help.

Do not place any part of your body in between the dogs.

This includes your hand, an arm or leg, and don't try to grab their collars and pull them apart. Dogs who are caught up in a fight will automatically bite whatever's in their way.

Use noise as a distraction.

Try not to scream, as this may excite the dogs even further. Instead, bang together two metal pots or garbage can lids or whatever loud, noisy object that may distract the dogs. If you have an air horn, use it. Sometimes an ultrasonic dog deterrent can also startle dogs enough to break up a fight.

Use water.

If you have ready access to a hose, spray cold water directly into the dogs' faces. Do not stop spraying until both dogs have backed off, and keep the spray between the dogs until the situation can be controlled.

If a hose isn't available, you can try using buckets of water instead.

Throw large blankets over the dogs' heads.

This may disorient them and stop the fight.

Try to insert a physical barrier between the dogs.

For example, use a big piece of plywood or a large chair. Do not step in between the dogs yourself!

Use the 'wheelbarrow' method.

If there's someone to help you, each of you can grab one dog by the hind legs and raise them off the ground, like a wheelbarrow. Back up slowly while turning in a circle. This will prevent the dog from whipping around and biting you, as he needs to concentrate on moving his paws so that he doesn't fall. Gradually pull him into a confined area where he will not be able to get to the other dog again. Don't let him go too soon - wait until he appears calm - or he may try to attack the other dog again, or may try to bite you. Both dogs must be confined before their legs are released, or you just might end up having the fight start all over again.

If you're by yourself, grab the hind legs of the attacking dog first and get him confined. Then go back for the other dog.

Since most of us wouldn't have access to water, plywood, air horns, blankets, etc... while we're out and about with our dogs, this 'wheelbarrow' method may end up being the one used.

Keep Yourself Safe!

A dog fight is a terribly stressful situation, but it's important to remain calm and focused. By keeping your composure you'll be able to minimize the risk to yourself and everyone involved (including the dogs). If you or anyone else is injured, go to the doctor to get it checked out even if you think it's minor. Likewise, if either of the dogs are injured they should be taken to the vet for an assessment and treatment. Please remember that intervening in any dog fight is always risky with a chance of injury, so don't take it lightly.

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