4 Ways To Stop A Dog Fight
Witnessing a dogfight can be very scary. The most important thing to remember is keep yourself safe. Unfortunately there are no guarantees or sure-win solutions. However, in the unfortunate event your dog does get into a scuffle here are some suggestions.
- 1. Recognize precursors to aggression. This may be stating the obvious but there are many subtle cues your dog may be giving you that they feel uncomfortable or the approaching dog is a threat. Dogs communicate with each other through body language. Learn to read dogs body language. There are numerous books written on the subject, visit our recommended reading for some wonderful resources. Here are a few cues to look for.
- Freeze- A key that I often tell students when dogs meet and interact is watch for the ‘freeze’ displayed by dogs as something, whether it’s play or a fight will start with a ‘freeze’. During this action dogs will ‘freeze’ for a brief moment before they interact, it’s in this BRIEF moment that you can possibly diffuse the situation with a happy yell, clap of the hands, or whistle.
- Mouth- A dog that is about to bite will bare most of his teeth. A dog warning that they are about to bite will briefly show their front teeth as a warning and quickly move to baring all their teeth.
- Hackles raised & stiff body- The hackles refer to the hairs in between the dogs shoulder blades. If a dogs hackles are raised, as well as baring teeth, they are moving slowly, with a stiff body this dog possess a threat. Please note that dogs’ hackles may be raised due to excitement and play. However the combination of the above-mentioned sets the aggressive dog apart from the playful dog.
- Eyes and ears– An aggressive dog may stare down another dog. Their ears may be erect and forward as well as their skin on their head maybe tight and wrinkled.
2. Loud noise– In the past when I have gone hiking I would bring a air horn for the unfortunate event that we may run into dogs that pose a threat. Blowing the horn can distract the dogs just long enough to pull them away from one another. If the fight is in your home, you could drop several pots and pans on the floor to startle the dogs. You could also give a quick strong yell. However if your dog hears the stress in your voice it could signal them that this is a bad situation and they should protect you thus continue to fight.
3. Water– If a hose is close enough grab the hose and douse the dogs with water. If you are at the beach grab a bucket or cooler fill it with water and dump it on the dogs. A water bottle with lemon juice is also an alternative.
4. An object- Our instinct when a dogfight occurs is to jump in the middle and break it up ourselves. This is a sure way to get bit yourself. To keep yourself safe look around and grab a nearby object that you can either put in the middle of a fight such as, a chair or an object that you can toss on top of the dogs such as, a blanket or a towel to disorient them.
As mentioned above, there is no guarantee that any of these solutions will work. The key is to recognize precursors to aggression and redirect your dog. If you are in a household situation where your dogs fight management is the best solution until you can modify your dogs’ behavior. What is important is to keep yourself safe in this unfortunate situation.