How to Break up a Dog Fight

I witnessed my first dog fight in an agility class. I was 17 years old, and was taking my parent’s obnoxious adolescent Labrador to classes, which I earned through apprentice work with the trainer. One of the other dogs in class disliked my dog’s bouncy, oblivious body language, so she pulled the leash out of her owner’s hands and jumped him as he exited the tunnel. He fought back loudly, and I stood in shock for what seemed like forever (but was really only a few seconds) before the trainer pulled the attacking dog away from my dog by her back legs. There were no injuries other than a tiny scratch on my dog’s flank, but I was horrified.

Since that incident, I’ve broken up my share of dog fights. Between shelter playgroups, loose dogs on neighborhood walks, and a revolving door of foster dogs, I’ve unfortunately had plenty of experience breaking up fights safely and effectively (and even more experience in preventing fights in the first place).

b rosen

Educating yourself about how to safely and effectively end a dog fight is incredibly important. Trying to break up a dog fight without the knowledge of how to do so safely can get you bitten, or could even cause the dogs to redirect and attack you. While most fights will end fairly quickly on their own, more serious fights that are not stopped could end in serious injury or even death to the participants. While rare, I’ve seen a handful of cases in which two unsupervised dogs fought badly with no one around to break them up, resulting in gruesome injuries or the death of one or both dogs.

It’s important to understand that any dog can fight. Dogs don’t have lawyers or letters to the editor, so they solve their problems with ritualized body language that can escalate to using their teeth. Some breeds (such as terriers, who were specifically selected for aggression towards other animals) may be more prone to fighting, but all dogs will fight if they are pushed far enough by another dog. Much like people, each dog’s individual temperament will contribute to their likelihood of getting in fights with others. Some of us are quite patient, with long fuses, while others are more hot-blooded and likely to spark up at the slightest insult. Know your dog, and keep him or her out of situations that could provoke a fight.

In addition to knowing what to do to prevent a fight, it’s helpful to know how your dog is likely to fight. Some dogs will fight by biting and releasing multiple times, while other dogs tend to bite and hang on. If you have a dog who will bite and hold, you’ll want to invest in something called a bite stick, which can be used to open a dog’s mouth enough that he can be pulled off his victim with minimal injury. Learn how to use the bite stick and keep it with you when your dog will be around others.

If you witness a dog fight, the first step is to take a moment to take stock of safety factors. If there are children or other vulnerable people nearby, remove them first. Other dogs who may join in the fight or who could be redirected on should also be removed. You will then need to decide whether you want to try to break up the fight, understanding that attempting to break up a fight could cause one or both of the dogs to bite or attack you. While scary, noisy fights tend to be less intense than silent fights. If one or both dogs is fighting silently, they are likely intent on doing serious damage or are fighting for their lives.

If you decide to break up the fight, it’s helpful to start with interventions that don’t require you to approach or touch the fighting dogs. Try making a loud noise by yelling, smacking the wall, or hitting a metal pan with a spoon – anything noisy will do. We have an air horn in our fight kit at my training center, which is loud and startling enough that it breaks up most fights at least long enough for the dogs to be separated.

If making a loud noise doesn’t work, startling the dogs using water or spray can sometimes stop a fight. Spray Shield is a citronella spray that can safely be used on dogs. If you don’t have any on hand, you can try upending a water bowl over the dogs or using a hose (or the hose attachment from your sink if you’re indoors).

For dogs who need to be physically separated, there are several options. If possible, try inserting something in between the dogs, such as a chair, board, or even a couch cushion. The goal is to physically separate them without putting yourself at risk. If the dogs are near a door, you can push them towards the door using the nearest solid object, then close the door between them.

If you absolutely must physically separate the dogs, keep your hands away from their mouths. Don’t grab for their collars or scruffs. Instead, grab one of the dogs where his back legs meet his torso and lift his back end off the ground, pulling him back away from the other dog. Pull him in a circle, continuing to lift his back end, until he calms down enough to realize what’s going on so that he’s unable to reach you with his mouth.

Once you’ve got the fighting dogs separated, give everyone some time to calm down before checking them over for injuries.

Have you ever had to break up a dog fight? What did you do? Share your stories, tips, tricks, and questions in the comments section below!

253 responses to “How to Break up a Dog Fight

  1. I have worked with dogs – every breed, size and attitude – for many years and the only surefire way to force a dog to release (break sticks do not always work and sometimes can even break teeth or jaws) is to – prepare to be grossed out – stick a finger in the dogs anus. I have used this method more times than I would like to admit but it has worked every single time. Granted, you then have to contend with the issue of the fight possibly continuing, but at least you have immediately and utterly changed the mindset of at least one of the dogs involved. And that is usually enough to give you the advantage to get things back under control. And then it’s time to wash your hands…

    • This is my default. I domt even bother trying anything else anymore. Finger in the butt has never failed me so I dont even bother trying other things since theres such a minimal chance it wont work. Everyone thinks im crazy but id rather bet a poopy finger and end the fight early than try other less invasive methods, have the dogs get more injured, and the result to finger in the butt anyway. Basically what it comes down to is I would rather be covered in crap than blood. Im glad im not the only one who does this.

    • I’ve used this a few times, walking dogs at the shelter..

    • yes… the finger although gross is extremely effective.
      a long time ago and very slight women confirmation judge who bred Dobie’s told me to use a co2 charger (like for a soda siphon). She said if she was alone and had to break up a fight that was the only safe way to do it. the co2 would make the dogs black out momentatary letting her seperate them safely

    • omg! I’m dying LOL Alesia that made me laugh! Thanks! :) I was totally not expecting something like that. I’m sure it works, I know it would on my dog! He doesn’t like ANYthing back there LOL

  2. At my shelter, we were taught to break up fights by looping a leash around the hindquarters of each dog. If there were two people, pull them away. If only one person, pull one dog to a door handle or other device s/he could be hooked to then pull the other dog away.
    Grabbing the back legs is a good idea!

  3. This whole thread has been very informative-thanks

  4. My dog got in a fight with another and my grandmother calmly walked over and threw water on them. Which stopped them instantly it was like “what the hell” that gave me chance to distract and then grab him.

  5. I have two Yorkie females that after 5 years together decided to kill each other. I can tell you that water does not work. Nor does a loud sound. We tried air horns and it doesn’t faze them. We also tried lifting up their back legs, also doesn’t work. I haven’t tried the finger in the anus yet. When Yorkies attack, it’s vicious. They fight to the death! I’ve been bit too many times. I’ve never had dogs in my life that attack each other. Don’t know what started this but I’ve had to give one away. Life was too stressful with these two.

    • Wow that’s crazy Suzanne – My mother is up in age and she has 1 but my sister had moved in with her after my dad had passed from Cancer – she has 2 of her own and my mother also has another so that’s 4 total – I hope to god nothing happens between the dog’s they all get along fine – now let’s pray it stay’s that way.. Sorry to hear about your dog’s I have 2 myself not Yorkie’s & I can’t imagine living without them.

  6. Water is the best if you have it. The problem I see is when a dog bites and hangs on, pulling the dogs apart without getting the biter to release causes tearing of the other dog’s flesh. While not necessarily life-threatening, it can be expensive to treat. One dog I know does this simply as a dominance thing and once he lets go the the other dog is perfectly ok.

  7. I’m sorry but yelling while there’s a fight only makes it worse. Spraying them with water does nothing. Also all dogs let go to regrip, they are not alligators/crocidilles who don’t. But what do u do if your alone with 2 dogs get one apart but the other is still attacking?

    • I agree with you on the water and yelling (for many not all dogs though). I once had to break up 2 dogs attacking a third dog all by myself in a small yard. It was really scary because every time I got two separated the third would jump in and it would start all over. I found shoving/kicking the dogs backwards with my foot to be safe and successful in separating them, I then focused on the more aggressive dog who seemed to be more intent on continuing the fight and grabbed hold of his collar which I then twisted like a tourniquet enough that the dog broke out of the violent trance that had come over him and calmed down.

    • Haley, that is my question exactly!!! I’ve ended up in the ER myself too many times…even had to have emergency surgery on my ulna…it was crushed! I’ve tried water, air horn, dog pepper spray, broom, etc. to no avail. They are 10 years old now, and I’m not sure if I can deal with the next fight. I think about the finger in the anus, but again, if this works on one, how do you stop the other from aggressing???

    • if I’m alone, I’ll grab SOMETHING, like a chair, or a baby gate, a pole, whatever the heck is handy, and use it as a barrier to fend off the more aggressive dog(s) while i shuffle/sidestep the other dog to something with a better barrier, such as another room (with a door), or outside. Then repeat for the remaining dogs. The human getting worked up and yelling does nothing but fuel an already over-the-top situation. If they’re already THAT crazed, their brain has gone bye bye and all you can do is separate them until they calm down. Each one in its own space. Check for injuries one by one when they are calm again.

  8. I usually grab the tail of the aggressor. And drag them away! Usually I then scream at them as the pack leader and they usually back down. Next time I will try the anus. Every other thing has never worked for me. I do try to keep an eye on body language and usually there is always one that’s always the instigator. Thanks! I aprreciate these insights.

  9. Gross but I also heard finger in the butt

  10. Let’s face it dogs are animals and I have 3 darling pitty,hound,lab mixes and I still keep close watch on one that is more aggressive and I keep a watchful eye on her always she was treated and trained no different than the other two other than I have to put her in her place with a firm hold on the back of her neck and a equally firm No…I have never had to pull her away just the firm hand and a firm voice….but when she is out of her terf she is afraid of everything and hides behind me ….I have never had a bad experience with a large dog just a small terrier

  11. I have what is called a “breaking stick”: my husband made it and it works extremely well. You insert it in the stronger dog’s back teeth as to open the dog’s jaw.

    • How do you put a stick in a dogs mouth or between teeth (I don’t exactly understand what to do) when they are completely holding on with their teeth to one other?

  12. As the owner of 5 pitties who are wonderful, I do keep a cattle prod on hand just in case. You never know what may provoke one and then the others will choose who to side with. The only reason I keep the cattle prod is for my sense of security as I can not stand dogs fighting( and if it ever happened it would be me and them) It really ticks me off when I am walking a couple of mine and someone has their dog just strolling around unleashed. I know that mine are well behaved but once again you never know what will provoke them, so another good thing to have is a stun gun……just the sound of the thing straightens them right up. I have never needed either, but it is good to have especially if you run into wild animals during your walks. 15 years ago I did have to use the prod on two of my females who were best friends for over six years and then one day…..boom…..instant fight! I ran and got the prod and one went one way and the other went another way. It really does not hurt them, it just stuns them out their mindset of fighting!

    • omg you americans! So many weapons available to you to casually carry around! Having a stun gun or cattle prod would be illegal and an arrestable offence in the UK.I will pack a glove in future though for the bum tip!

      • Ah yes. We colonialist realize that the cost of freedom is quite substantial, and that the Tree of Liberty is sustained from time to time by the blood of tyrants.

    • Electrically shocking the combatants only intensifies the fight- in the heat of battle they assume the sharp discomfort felt was naturally inflicted by the opposing K9, and therefore it simply escalates the engagement. It’s probably the least advisable option, unless you introduce a charge sufficient to “taze” or immobilize one or both combatants. Again introduce OC or Bear Spray to summarily defuse the brawl. It’s about a thousand times more effective that showering them with a bit of water- I’ve yet to find a species that is allergic or physiologically affected by a quantity of H2o thrown on their hide (not to mention they are a bit preoccupied by the death match at hand).

  13. i own 2 female bullmastiffs, they were friends for 3yrs, one day they decided they hated each other and have been trying to kill each other ever since. i keep them separated, but occasionally they find a way to get to each other, the only thing i’ve found to keep 2 120lb dogs apart is throwing a towel or blanket over each one’s head so they can’t see each other and dragging them apart..these are not little fights, they are death matches, there will always be some kind of injuries, sometimes small, sometimes not so small…keep vigilant, when their tails are straight up and their bodies stiffen, a fight is the next step

  14. Patricia Stewart

    One of My Dogs have cancer and When she started with the chemo the vet forget to say she could be aggressive :((( She and My other dog fought a lot then. I just pulled them in the skin in the neck and I still do if need to and they are both over 30kg Thanks for all the tips!!!

    • Pulling at the neck collar will over time make things worse I am a dog trainer it is seen by the dog as a sing of aggressive and could pervocke the dog to bit you grabbing the hindend will work as long as you do so safely good luck and be careful

  15. I have 2 rescued female pitbulls both around 50 pounds a piece. One was a bait/ fighting dog and the other was a throw away mom. They do not like each other when we’re in the house. We have a male too, same size, but they both love him. Before we have them their own separate rooms the females used to be kept together and got in several vicious fights. One girl would latch onto the others face, of neck then look to use all her neck muscles and tear. Loud noises, yellling makes things worse, and gets the gentle male riled up and wanting to fight too. Water didn’t phase them, nor did pulling legs, or anything butthole related. When one had the other locked in I had no choice but to shove my hand into her mouth to get her to stop biting. When she let go the other girl would continue to try to bite and I would get bit by her if I was alone breaking up the fight. When they bite down pretty much just the front half of teeth connect so there are little openings on the sides of the mouth where I’d jamb my fingers then when she starts opening just make a fist and jam it down her throat so she can’t tear you of catch a finger. You make the decision to risk yourself for the safety of the dogs.

    • Some people need just one dog especially big dogs. Being in the house is against their nature anyway. My Dad was a trainer of dogs. He loved animals and especially dogs. He always said don’t ever get a big dog if you don’t have room for them to run and get rid of pent up energy. Small dogs are house dogs and don’t get as aggressive. Think before you let your heart tell you to take a Pit Bull in a 3 room apartment.

      • You really might want to reevaluate your last statement.

        In my experience, small dogs are consistently more aggressive than large dogs. I have a large dog who has been attacked by multiple small dogs entirely unprovoked. Many small breeds are vicious. People over-breed them and fail to train them– this results in little hoards of vicious aggressive dogs.

        Btw, I would trust a pit over a Chihuahua any day of the week. Pitties are arguably the sweetest most affectionate breed I have ever had the pleasure of interacting with (and I’ve interacted with countless breeds).

  16. sure thing pulling the back legs keep your hand far from the teeth but instead of breaking the fight will increase the damage that the bite-hold is causing already, imagine catching your arm in some pliers and just pull out (without opening the tool). the best way to avoid more damage is to pin down the dogs (or at least the dominant one) by the neck, right behind the jaw, teeth are at the other end of the jaw, so as long as you keep a grip on the collar or skin, the dog won’t be able to reach you and will rather calm down while is in a submissive position. needless to say is not easy but have been working every single time for me.
    i have worked with many pits with behavioral issues and avoiding for them to get hurt before they get rehabilitated is always my priority

    • Domanting a dog in a fight is only going to get the dog to bite you if you have a tineness ball handy that is all you need all you have to do is hit the bitting dog right bettween the eyes they will let go fast there just like humans getting hit in the nose

  17. I have 3 standards all males and the one in the middle is very pushy. He is the one who is liable to go crazy. He is very pushy and tends to have testosterone problems. We took them to a trainer cause we didn’t want our grandchildren to witness this it’s very scary. My husband has tried to break it up with the oldest one and the middle one but to no avail. We have tried all the above and he has gotten bitten they are In a zone that no one can break. The trainer said getting him off of the property even just for a ride seems to calm him down. When he is with other dogs at day care he seems fine. This happens everyone once and a while and I usually see it coming he has signs. we are at home all day with they have the invisable fence and the trainer thinks he needs to get out and socialize with other dogs. We have been taking lessons on how to calm him down when we see the his coming on. Good luck it doesn’t happen all the it I me but when it does it’s horrible.

  18. Please, can you cite your sources for this in your story?

    “Some breeds (such as terriers, who were specifically selected for aggression towards other animals) may be more prone to fighting,…”

    • I think that it is common knowledge that different dogs were bred to do different things. Some dogs were bred to bait bulls, others to flush badgers out of holes. These breed traits are of course going to need to be taken into consideration while training and supervising the dog. I am not saying that there are bad dogs and good dogs– only that you have to know your dog in terms of individual personalities and breed tendency. One can be politically correct in regards to dog breeds to the extent that they are willfully unwise. People who are willfully unwise should not own dogs IMO. To own a dog you need to be responsible to the community as well as to the dog.

    • This seems like a perfectly reasonable request given that one breed was singled out there. If a breed is going to be so blatantly profiled, I’d like to see the scientific research supporting such a claim.

      • The phrase “some breeds” does not single out any breed in particular. Indeed, it is a general statement.

      • Also– I think that all dogs are capable of doing harm under the wrong conditions.

    • I agree, temperament testing studies of large numbers of dogs by breed has shown time and time again that terriers aren’t more people or dog aggressive because of breed. As the proud mom of 3 ‘pitbulls’ and a small dog that was my grandmother’s I can tell you breed has very little to do with it. The little one is the only aggressive dog in our home.

      • If you are going to refer to the article, you should quote it correctly. The article does not stop at “some breeds” as you say, it goes on to specifically single out “terriers” which, by definition is NOT, as you stated, general. Please tell me why you would choose to attempt to defend the author’s ignorant profiling with some ignorance of your own?


  20. Also, keep in mind that dogs can go through several generations over a short amount of time. Some jerk who is breeding dogs to fight may be able to accomplish his goal of breeding a highly aggressive litter of puppies in a matter of years, in less than a decade. I know that the pc police will be out to get me for saying this, but if you get one of these puppies you could have an unstable animal. Generally speaking, I like pitbulls. I think that they are loyal and lovely dogs. However, because of these jerks, this breed of dog is suffering.

  21. Just had a fight happen with my 2 big rescue dogs the other morning in our garage….happens about once a yr between the 2…grabbed the garden hose and sprayed them..they instantly stopped and looked at me…like “why did you so that.”

  22. When my boys fight, water doesn’t work. We still try using water, but it just has never worked. It seems to sometimes fuel their fight, instead. Yelling or making some loud noise doesn’t work either. I guess I just have to let my dogs fight it out, which is so hard for me to do and watch. When they lock up, it’s almost like they want to kill each other. Fortunately, the worst injuries i’ve seen were some seriously open wounds, but nothing that didn’t heal up on their own.
    I have a few girls who fight. 2 of my girls seem to jump the other 2 girls whenever they get the chance. The 2 that get attacked are now permanent residents in my kitchen and, for a long while, refused to even go outside. I can still say, “Outside?” and they’ll sometimes run into the crate, they’re so scared. It pains me to know they’re so afraid, but I don’t know what else to do. However, when they have locked up, picking the one up from behind seemed to have worked. The one aggressor is small enough that I can pick her up completely and carry her away. She kept kicking her feet for awhile, and I got scratched on my side, but she eventually stopped being in attack mode. The other aggressor is too heavy to lift, but a firm smack to the hind end will distract her long enough most of the time.
    I think girls fight differently than boys, for the most part. Or at least have a different mentality. This is a generalization I have made from my experience with my 7 dogs (3 boys, 4 girls, a couple of whom are opportunists on occasion and will join a fight on the winning side).

  23. Usually water works,but,we had a silent fight between an Am Bull and a Pit,Since the Am bull,was larger I went for her first,tried grabbing the tail,and the hind legs,totally lifting her off the ground,didnt work.So I walked over her,straddling her and grabbed her by her cheeks and pinched hard while saying No.She let go,and turned to me,and rolled on her back.The Pit,took off,with an almost torn off ear.It was their first fight,as they had always played together before.We have to keep them separate now.Watching them,I now understand,it is the Pit who instigates the fights,she is acting all playful,when the other dog wants to play,she shows her teeth then stiffens up,only with larger dogs.

  24. If everything else fails and it’s a really brutal fight then you grab one’s collar and choke them out. But everyone is forgetting the big picture here – train your dogs, work with them, know their issues, learn to read body language (especially your own dog’s body language) if you are going to be around dogs a lot, let them know that you are alpha and let them think that if you step in you could do worse than the other dog (in their mind, cause you really can’t). The key is learning the signs to step in and stop it before it starts.

  25. We have two bull terriers, one a rescue that has mental issues that we were unaware of. He’s extremely antagonistic to his older “sister” and they have turned on each other several times. When they bite, they don’t let go… their jaws are so strong. Our girl hates water, but throwing it on them doesn’t work, they don’t even notice it. We’ve heard hitting them with a wiffle ball bat could possibly work…no pain, just a really loud noise. Fortunately, we haven’t had to try it yet.

  26. Really REALLY great advice. I have a foster dog now, and while she’s incredibly sweet with children and her human buddies, she has a thing against dogs (at least when we pass them) so I’ve tried slow introductions (which worked incredibly well at Christmas with two shitzus and a pomeranian). For whatever reason, she gets overly excited outside and I always worry about taking her to a dog park for this exact reason. I never would have thought to try making loud noises/using water, but it makes complete sense and a great idea so as not to get directly into the fray. Thanks so much for this! You have an awesome blog here, btw, I’ve stopped in quite a few times and always learn something new :)

  27. I have worked with large powerful dogs for years Rottweilers, saint bernards, mastiffs & paticularly pit bulls are my weakness. You gave great advice in my opinion. I’ve found that certain dogs especially the pitts the loud noices havnt been as effective but just a regular water bottle you can pick up from anywhere will quite ofetn do the trick. A bite stick is a MUST have with the pit bulls!!! but honestly I’ve had less fights with the pitties then some other breeds despite what people may think but they are the fights that usually take more drastic measures to seperate them & the back leg grab is definitly the safest approach with any dog.

  28. Nicole Starrick

    My border is just like that .she and my pit/ ambull get into it all the time it can be one or the other. resource guarding they are loud I stop him quik he knows who’s boss the border on the other hand will try to keep it going he outwieghs her by 50lds

  29. We recently had a huge fight – one of our pittie girls cornered a raccoon on the front porch and had it by the abdomen, belly up, while our other pittie girl was trying to get in on the action. Yelling did NOT work, since each girl was concentrating HARD on that racooon, but we were able to wheelbarrow-pull off the first girl and get her inside while I concentrated on the other girl with the raccoon in her mouth. I was able to move her to the edge of the porch, grab the hose and turn the water on and she released the raccoon, who ran off with NO visible injuries! When we examined each girl the one we pulled off first had a very minor scratch on her front leg, while the girl with the raccoon in her mouth had some superficial facial scratches. NO bite wounds, no puncture wounds, we lucked out. The couple of arguments our girls have had over treats have been quickly taken care of by grabbing the hind quarters and pulling apart.

  30. Karen Lee Kimbrough

    A 10 lb yorkie once picked up my 2 lb chihuahua with the kill grip to shake and break his neck. I picked up the yorkie by his hind quarters which broke his grip. The yorkie’s owner was furious with me but I saw no option.

  31. Just wanted to say in cristina’s defense, she said terriers. She did not specifically point out pitbulls but everyone went straight to that. There are other breeds that are terriers. Boston Terrier, Yorkshire terrier, Cairn terrier, Jack Russell terrier, etc. Just saying.

    • I have a JRT who thinks he can take on ANY dog ANY size.

    • The meanest dog I ever owned was a Cairn Terror. She ripped my finger to the bone. She seemed to be mentally disturbed– maybe she had some sort of chemical imbalance or disease. We were never quite sure and eventually she died of Cushings disease (which causes dogs to become aggressive). As for pitbulls, I do not need a defense. It is just practical science. Border collies that are bred to be good sheep herders do not necessarily make good pets and vice versa. Hunting dogs, farm dogs– they tend to be more aggressive than your couch potato dog. Dogs are bred for any number of activities– some of which require gentle natures, some of which require braver natures. Wolf Hounds were historically aggressive, now they are big suckers– presumably because breeding tends to favor pet dogs as opposed to wolf hunters. The sad truth is that the pitbull breed is to some extent impacted by dog fighting. The aggressive dogs are mated together to produce aggressive puppies– non-aggressive results of this breeding are discarded as bait dogs and are thus killed before they can breed. The aggressive dogs that win fights are prized, the more submissive dogs are killed. The net result is increasing aggression in each subsequent generation. This is not to say that pitbulls are not wonderful dogs– there are many wonderful pet pitbulls out there. However, we have to be practical and not ignore this factor when handling these dogs and including them in our families. It is not the dogs’ fault that there are jerks in this world– these poor dogs lead miserable lives and rescues who work to stop this activity and preserve these dogs are the true heroes of the rescue world. Also, we can not assume that some other sort of dog is automatically gentle.

      • By the way–my dogs occasionally squabble over food. For these minor battles nothing works quicker than water. I just dump their water dish over their cranky brindled heads.

    • My 18 lb JRT will take on anything,anybody anytime.She laid into my 76lb Am Bull,for taking her stick,she was playing with.Just had to clap my hands to get them to stop.

  32. I break up a fight by putting a slip lead around the ‘waist’ of one dog and securing it to something solid, like the oil intake valve for my home heating oil (this is outside). With one dog secure, I do the same to the second dog and pull them off and into the house or a separate room. The most important thing is to NOT panic, STIFLE your impulse to touch the collars (I learned the hard way), and understand that most times, it’s noise and a few scratches, even with pitbulls, which are the fights I have had to break up in my life.

  33. I have a Corgi who attacks things that squeak. He jumped on a dog that screamed, and I picked him up. He tends to let go when he feels his paws leave the floor. Loud noises excite him more, and water doesn’t work on him. I also can plug his nose if he grabs a hold. He can’t breathe well and lets go. When he does I pick him up.

  34. I had to twist my dogs balls to get him off of another dog. Not quite a finger up the anus but it worked that time

    • …that’s an incredibly clear indication that it’s time to get your dog fixed. Males are significantly, overwhelmingly more aggressive when they are still “intact”.

  35. was told never to have 2 males in the household…I have 2 males & 1 female; the female gets along with both males but when 2 males are together, they would fight. I’m sure one thinks he’s the boss or #1 but exactly how to train them NOT to fight. During first 2 yrs together, they were buddies & now they are not. Any reasons ?

    • It’s all about dominance! Had the same issue with my 2 males and once they fight they will always fight. It’s a make thing because females don’t tend to worry about dominance as much as males.

      • Sorry, but that’s just not true. Statistics show the highest rate of intra-pack aggression are between females–especially littermates raised in the same home. I can tell you that in my years as a trainer almost every case that has been brought to me of aggression against a dog in the same home has been between girls. Not to say it doesn’t happen between boys, because of course it does, but way more with girls.

  36. Pit Bull Princess

    I have 3 female American Pit Bull Terriers and 1 male. The females are all pretty dominant ( it is highly advised not to have more than 1 female in the house) but we are very experienced and involved in rescue. The only thing that works for us, is to cut off the breathing of one of the dogs. Water, noise, and lifting legs didn’t work at all for this tenacious breed. You have to twist the collar to literally cut off the dogs air, then the dog will rThis is a elease. Getting them to stay apart, involves tackling one to the ground so that they can not latch on again. This may seem extreme to some dog owners, however this is a very tenacious breed, you have to match the intensity of your dog.

    • Totally agree with your approach regarding pits. I’ve witnessed a very experienced pit owner stop his own dog by placing himself behind his dog, holding the hind between his knees while grabing the collar (hence, the dog couldn’t redirect an attack at all) and place his thumb on the throat pushing upward. The dog ( a VERY strong specimen) had no choice; he vomited, releasing his prey immediately.

  37. Idk… the author carries citronella spray in her “fight kit” (in addition to an air horn), but I’d advise to step it up to OC “oleoresin capsicum”-aka Pepper Spray. We are talking about breaking up a dog fight, not a mosquito fight. Give those jaws&paws a beak and eye-full of pepper, and it will def change their tune! Remember humans have only about 5 million scent receptors whereas the standard-issue German Shepard is equipped with 225 million. Hit ’em where it hurts if you are serious about defusing the fight.

    • I would be to scared that the pepper gets into my own eyes. The 3 times my 3 dogs were fighting I panicked, screamed like crazy (cant help it) and took the strongest girl by the collar to twist it. Its an automatic thing I seem to do. With the pepperspray it would not be possible using it correctly while holding a dog (with the strength of an elephant) meaning I have to let my dogs fight, get the spray, spray it around their head an get out of there myself?

  38. I grabbed both sides of my dogs lower mouth an inserted it her mouth which made her bite herself
    She let go.
    The other thing I have done is grabbed her by her throat an squeezed.
    She also let go then to.
    Both times she was the one being attacked!! I did what I had to do an what works on her.

  39. Sometimes shouting will help, depends on the dog and how focused they get when fighting. I had a pittie who was the sweetest thing — most of the time. Her first fight happened after I had driven her and my other dog 12 hours to my daughter’s house to visit. Everyone was tired and in a different place and when I went to give them food and water I set one bowl down and they both went for it and bam! I broke it up fast and there were only a few bites that I was able to treat myself by keeping them clean until they healed. The second time my son was trying to let her and our other two dogs out and they were crowded around the door and he pushed one with his knee and it landed on her causing her to fall so again, it was on! We tried water, pulling their back legs, banging objects loudly, nothing helped. I finally had to literally grab her mouth to pry it open to get the other dog loose, she was ripping her chest open. She came out with a few bites that I could treat. The other dog had surgery and a chest tube (about $1000 in vet fees). I had three hours in the ER cleaning out 20 plus puncture wounds and another couple of hours at the hand surgeons getting my pinkie finger sewn back on. I tried to find her another home without other pets or children. My daughter took her after that, but when she had a baby I took her back. I had nightmares about what she might do to the baby. Later we rescued an old hound dog that had very few teeth and was about 12 years old. They got on great from the start. She was very gentle with him and seemed to sense that he was old and feeble. Then one day while we were gone I had failed to crate her before we left and there was a fight. Not sure what started it but my whole house was a blood bath. He was in deep shock and his leg was barely hanging on. The vet and I decided he probably wouldn’t survive surgery so we put him down. After much soul searching I also had her put down. Dog fights can be very traumatic. My sons and I all suffer from PTSD from that fight and probably will for a long long time to come.

  40. From the “old wives ” tales book: If you’re going to carry a ‘fight kit’ around, think about adding a bag of flour. Works on the same principle of cutting off the air supply.

  41. We keep fire extinguishers in each room of the house and on the back porch. They are safe to use (i’ve checked) as long as you don’t spray directly in the dogs’ faces and the sound, and smell, startle them enough to break them up.

  42. Try not to confuse two different people. Amy and I are different. I responded because I think that people are accusing her of something that she has not committed. People seem to be able to tell anecdotal stories without the burden of evidence– why then are you people requiring the burden of evidence whenever someone says something even mildly negative about pitbulls? Sorry– but while they are good dogs for many people, there is a reason why insurance companies and the like place restrictions on certain breeds.

  43. Also Debbie– the first fight was bad enough! It was not a minor fight. My own dogs squabble over food, but never has any of these fights resulted in a puncture wound or any injury to either animal or to myself.

  44. I think it’s great that you’re trying to educate people, but I actually disagree with grabbing the dog by the hind legs. Most dogs are going to be faster than you and that gives them the perfect opportunity to turn around and bite you. I worked in a dog training place for a while and I’ve learned a lot about breaking up fights. There are a lot of dogs you’re going to have trouble picking up by the back legs. You do want to grab them by their collars or scruff and even get under the chin so they can’t turn their heads and then give them a correction while staying firm, and obviously don’t panic. If you’re going to panic, don’t break up a fight. But honestly you should go to a professional to ask about this.

  45. The author states,

    “In addition to knowing what to do to prevent a fight, it’s helpful to know how your dog is likely to fight. Some dogs will fight by biting and releasing multiple times, while other dogs tend to bite and hang on. If you have a dog who will bite and hold, you’ll want to invest in something called a bite stick…”

    Ok how exactly is one to know how his/her K9 is likely to fight?!? I asked my Lab about her fighting style, and she said she couldn’t disclose her technique because she would lose the element of surprise! Come on….

  46. I had two temp fosters, one american bulldog puppy (still a big girl) and another an Cattle dog (honestly never want another one of those around) and the cattle dog attacked the bully. She was trying to kill the puppy, not just fight it. I was alone with 3 of my own pits in the back room getting riled up. So I had to pick them both up by the collar and choke them. I pinned one against the wall while holding the collar and the other just hung in the air untill they ceased struggling. Crated the cattle dog, and attended to the wounds on the bulldog. It was a 5 minute fight. I did get injured on the belly but not bad. The cattle dog was minimally injured but the bulldog got the worst of it but was OK. Do not ever want to go thru that again.

  47. I’ve had to deal with several Pitbull fights and what I find that works the best is to snatch them by their hind legs and pull them apart. As we all know, pits have very strong jaws and the bite stick does not work so well with them so the best way I found to break them up is an air horn to distract them and then grab the back legs and pull as hard and as fast as you can. Never tried the finger trick though.

  48. My two intact rottie boys hate each other and will fight if given the opportunity. I have had two VERY bad fights between. They are primarily silent and serious. Both were my fault as I let my guard down and inadvertently let them come in contact with each other. Unfortunately when you are by yourself the hind leg thing does not work as you can only grab one dog and the other of course will take advantage of the other dog being “off balance”. The best I can do is get a barrier between them like a door to another room!! Unfortunately I have been bitten, the second time badly. I have to grab a dog and work them toward a door of another room. If I can get one dog in one room and the other dog in the other I just hold the door shut against them (usually their heads/Muzzles) until they let go and then I can shut the door between them. Both times the injuries to THEM were minor compared to the ones I got!! I try to be VERY careful to not let them come in contact…obviously!

  49. I broke all of the rules in this blog! I have a very aggressive 5 year old female chihuahua. She is the third chi we adopted at 6 weeks old and is def an Alpha. Our older female Alpha and her clash constantly & they have had a bunch of random fights over food bowls, sleeping spots, toys or if my other female is getting more attention. It usually happens with no growling or vocal warning and before I knew it, Cici was going for Peanut’s neck. I have screamed & that worked once. I have grabbed Cici’s (aggressor) head and pried her mouth open because she would no let go, I have spanked her, anything but what is recommended! even though they are a smaller breed (7-10 lbs), they both stand their ground and have many times tried to go at it again after my separating them. Blood has been drawn and it scares me that their eyes will be injured. We now keep them separated as much as possible, by child gates and never leave them alone together. We know food has to be separate, toys are only allowed when separate and when people are around giving attention and affection, we do not let them get near one another. At one point we considered finding Cici a new home where she could be the only companion but we love her; despite her attitude, and we know someone else might not be as patient as we are with her barking at strangers and noises and initially aggressive behaviors when company comes over. We have had her since she was a tiny baby and know its just her genetic makeup. She is loved here and we are very patient with her. We have also tried expensive bark collars, shock collars for small breeds etc. those have helped. We trained her to one and now she doesn’t even have to wear it, we just ask her if she Wants to wear her collar and she says “no” by calming down. I’m glad to know these tips now, because we have lots of dogs in our neighborhood and I run and walk frequently. I know I could never walk away from a fight. I feel more confident in knowing what to do in an emergency now! Thanks!

  50. This is probably the best article I have ever seen in regard to how to stop a dog fight. Extremely good advice. I worked at PetsHotel (Petsmart) where we had a full kennel, day care and group play service. As with humans, not all dogs will get along in a group play setting. Fortunately, I was able to stop all the fights I ever had to break up either by using water or a loud noise, thankfully with no injuries or very minor skin abrasions. We had citronella and an air horn at our disposal but I never needed to use them since the fights did not escalate that far. We were taught how to spot the sometimes subtle signs that something could be about to get ugly. Nipping that in the bud is extremely helpful, let me tell you. This article does cover what to do if things get more serious which is also extremely important to know for everyone’s safety. As one poster suggested, I have never tried the finger in the anus, but I probably would if things got really bad! LOL

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