Dr. Sophia Yin gives some sage advice on breaking up a tussle between dogs. For more from Dr. Yin, find her on Facebook or at drsophiayin.com!
If you have a dog and he goes to the dog park, lives with doggie housemates, or otherwise socializes with other dogs, chances are that at some point you may need to break up a spat. These may range from low-level altercations with no real contact to a no-bites-spared brawl. So what should you do? First, realize that regardless of the amount of noise, most fights between unfamiliar dogs at the dog park or first fights between housemates are spit and drool matches. When bites are involved during these fights, dogs generally bite and release. So in the majority of cases we do not need to worry about prying the jaws open or getting dogs to actually release.
Instead, our major concern is just getting the dogs apart and to do so without getting bitten. The number one way to avoid being bitten is to avoid trying to grab the head or neck area. Frequently while trying to grab the front end or getting in the between the dogs, the humans accidentally get bitten. Or in the heat of the moment a dog actually turns and redirects aggression to the person pulling them away. The safest method to get the dogs apart is to grab them by the rear end and quickly pull them away. In other cases, because of your positioning in relation to the dog or because they are moving around too quickly, you may need to shove one away by placing your foot on their rib cage and pushing. This is safer than bending over and trying to push with your hands. It may also allow you to use your hands to grasp the other dog if you don’t have someone else to help.
Other methods for separating dogs include spraying them with water, placing a board or object between them, or banging a noisy object near them. These techniques are all meant to distract them. Other surprisingly benign distractions may work too, says Melissa Morris, a dog trainer who recounts the case of her mom’s dog. “Her shepherd, Ruby, attacked a visiting yellow lab. Ruby grabbed the lab's neck and wouldn't let go. My mom was yelling at Ruby. My brother-in-law was there and punched Ruby in the head, trying to get her to let go. All that did is hurt his hand! My mom was holding a newspaper and lightly hit Ruby on the head with it (newspaper was not rolled up). That distracted Ruby and she let go.”
In another situation Melissa recalls, “When my neighbor's pit bull attacked the chow that was walking by their house and wouldn't let go, they tried yelling, kicking the dog, turning the hose on him, none of that worked. But when they opened the car door and said, ‘Let's go bye bye, he let go and jumped in the car.’
These two situations highlight that creativity may win over force. Also consider using a spray deterrent such as citronella (Direct Stop or Spray Shield) or pepper spray. They can work in some cases too. Just remember—in all cases avoid actions that will cause the dog to redirect it’s aggression to you or even unintentionally lead to a bite.
What to Do Once the Dogs Are Apart
Once you have the dogs apart you should pay attention—does your dog want to keep fighting or does he immediately calm down or try to get away? The one who wants to continue fighting will require more work to modify the behavior in the future. In either case, you’ll want to understand why a fight occurred instead of just assuming it was a fluke or hoping the same type of situation won’t occur again. A majority of the dog aggression behavior cases involving bites that I treat have a history of getting into low level spats which over time developed into more dangerous fights. Many fights can be prevented simply by noticing when one dog is tense around another and calling the two dogs apart before there’s trouble and then rewarding your dog for good behavior.
To learn how to recognize signs that your dog is anxious and may be ready to get to a fight reach Chapter 1 in this free online book: Low Stress Handling and Behavior Modification of Dogs and Cats. To learn how to teach a really good "come when called," read this blog and watch this video.
If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.
‘Hey, watch it! That hurts.’
Do dogs bite when they are in pain? Yes, they do. The pain that your dog feels due to sickness or injury can cause him to chomp on you. Sometimes, dealing with the agony caused by a fracture or a disease can be tough and confusing for the dog.
Since he does not understand where the pain comes from or what causes it, if you touch him, he might end up thinking that you are the reason for it.
- If your dog is exhibiting signs of being hurt or sick, avoid touching him.
- Instruct children to stay away or leave the room. Children may want to soothe the dog’s pain by petting it, and the dog might unintentionally react aggressively.
Breaking Up Dog Fights in a Shelter Setting
Jacque Lynn Schultz, CPDT
Breaking Up Dog Fights in a Shelter Setting
If you house more than one dog in your facility, there is a potential for a dogfight to occur. While prevention is essential, having an action plan and the proper tools on hand will be invaluable if, despite all precautions, a dogfight breaks out.
How to Avoid Fights
Some dog breeds are more pack-friendly than others are. Hounds, sporting dogs and many toy breeds are quite good around other dogs – both their own breed and others. Terriers, some spitz breeds (Akitas, Chows), and guarding breeds are often combative with other dogs, particularly those of their own sex. That said, there are always individual exceptions. Genetics, maternal nurturing, litter experience and early socialization all contribute to dog-to-dog social behavior.
The safest course is to kennel adult dogs in separate cages unless they came in together as bonded companions. If space limits demand that cages be double occupancy, avoid the following volatile combinations: a female in heat with another adult female (It goes without saying she should not be caged with an intact male either.) two dominant adult males two unneutered males near a female in season a second dog in the kennel with a cage-aggressive dog a second dog with an easy-to-arouse dog or a second dog with a dog who guards its possessions.
Always remove dogs from cages on leashes or kennel ropes. Do not allow dogs to run loose in kennel rooms, as they will arouse the other caged dogs. Aroused dogs are more likely to direct their aggressive energies towards whoever is available. When passing another handler and dog face-to-face, make sure the dogs are both on the outside of their handlers to avoid contact.
If your shelter exercises dogs in groups, the make-up of the playgroup should be carefully considered. Dogs of similar play styles, ages and sizes should be grouped together – except when this would result in a highly aroused pack. For instance, once pit bulls reach late adolescence (> 15months, some even younger), they should not be in same sex, same breed groupings. However, they may do fine in a playgroup including Boxers, retriever mixes and other sturdy, hard-playing social dogs. All playgroups need proper supervision. No fewer than 2 animal handlers should be on hand, so that if a fight breaks out, it can be quashed immediately. Better still, experienced handler/observers should actively monitor play and identify dogs that need to be redirected or removed before fights erupt.
When Dogs Fight
Not all dogfights are the same. Some fights among male dogs employ much posturing – lots of noise and spit flying everywhere — but little real injury. While females don’t fight as frequently as males, they are likely to do serious damage when they do engage. Fights between mixed sexes aren’t common but may result when a mature female reprimands a younger male upstart and he doesn’t offer the appropriate submissive response. There are predatory attacks meant to quickly dispatch a smaller animal. And then there are the bloodbaths where two dogs engage in mortal combat.
In light skirmishes, a booming “cut that out!” or a blast of the citronella aerosol spray Direct Stop! may stop the action before it gets heated. (Anyone chaperoning a play group should always have a can of Direct Stop! on hand.) Unfortunately, more serious fights may demand more painful intervention. Smelling salts, pepper spray or a blast from a pressure hose (without detergent, please) may stop a serous fight. When considering pepper spray, keep in mind that it may inflame aggression in some cases and can be detrimental to the handler if breathed in. Shouting or a bucket of water thrown on the competitors will not have any effect on serious aggression. In some cases, even the aforementioned tools will be ineffective. Only the separation of the two combatants will ensure the battle ends.
Any time humans get near fighting dogs, humans can get seriously bitten. Most dogs in fight mode will strike out at anything within their reach – even the people with which they usually have a good relationship. There is no failsafe method of breaking up a dogfight. To engage is to take on a certain amount of risk to personal safety. However, the method that appears safest requires two handlers to simultaneously grab the rear legs of the combatants and lift their rear ends up off the ground while moving backward in an arc away from the other dog. Instead of twisting around and redirecting aggression toward the handler, the dogs will be forced to focus on sidestepping with their front feet to keep their chins from hitting the ground. Move the dogs to different rooms or cages, making sure more than chain link separates the two opponents. These dogs should never have access to one another again, as they are likely to resume where they left off.
Should you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having to break up a fight alone, start by getting a slip leash around the loin (waist) of one of the fighters, tighten it and then tie the leash to a fence, cage door or other immovable object. Second, grab the rear legs of the second dog and lift up and move away in a backward arc until he can be secured. Then, return to the first dog and secure him.
Always wait until the dogs have settled down before attempting to assess injuries unless bleeding is profuse and injuries appear life threatening. Muzzle the dog with the leash, rolled gauze or whatever is readily available before handling any dog in pain or you may end up another victim of the melee.
Breaking Up a Pit Bull Fight
Unlike other dogs, the traditional fighting pit bull should not redirect his aggression toward people when in the heat of battle. (The same may not be true of the urban street fighter.) The use of a break stick is often necessary to “break” the pit bull’s hold on his adversary. A break stick is an 8-10 inch wooden lever, a little thicker than a broomstick with a pointed end. (Break sticks are available for purchase at (www.pbrc.net/breaksticks.html). In order to use one effectively, the dog must be straddled and the collar grabbed, at which point the break stick can be inserted ½ – 1-½ inches into the dog’s mouth just behind the molars. This will open the mouth enough to remove the flesh of the opponent. This is very risky and should only be attempted when there are two experienced handlers working in concert to break up the fight.
By Jacque Lynn Schultz, CPDT
ASPCA Companion Animal Programs Advisor
National Shelter Outreach
© ASPCA, 2004
What Is the Best Way to Stop a Dog Fight?
A few days ago in Surrey, British Columbia, four women received severe dog bite injuries requiring medical treatment. These injuries were sustained inside their home, while trying to stop a fight between three of their own dogs who were described as pit bulls. Since Surrey is only a short distance from Vancouver, where I live, I was not surprised when my mailbox lit up with requests for interviews and comments from the local media. I accepted a few of these and found that most of the interviewers obviously had an agenda.
Typically the interview would begin with something like this: "Dr. Coren, are these attacks more evidence that pit bulls are a dangerous breed of dog that should be banned?"
I found myself repeatedly saying something on the order of, "You shouldn't turn this into a pit bull issue—it's not a pit bull issue. The problem here is that there was a dog fight and the people who lived with the dogs didn't know how to deal with the problem. They acted instinctively, and they got themselves hurt. These kinds of injuries could have occurred if you were intervening in a dogfight between any large or strong breed of dog, even normally placid breeds like Labrador retrievers or Golden retrievers. If you try to intercede in a dogfight and you don't know what you're doing, you are most likely going to get hurt yourself. It has not been too many years since Queen Elizabeth had to have a number of stitches on her hand for injuries which resulted when she tried to break up the fight between two of her Corgis."
From the puzzled looks that I got from most of these interviewers it became clear that none of them had the faintest clue as to how you actually break up a dogfight. When I quizzed a couple of them, they seemed to feel that the best way was to shout "No!" at the fighters as loudly as possible and then grab the dogs by the collar and pull them apart. This is actually what is recommended by one popular TV dog "expert." It is also the worst thing that you can do, and it is exactly the behavior that got these women severely bitten. Yelling at the dogs often adds to the stress and arousal levels that led to the fight in the first place, and this can actually ratchet up the degree of aggression. Reaching into the battle, especially by placing your hand or body between the dogs, can result in injuries. These are often inflicted by your own dog. This is simply because the dogs are in what they interpret as a struggle for survival. If they see you at all, they will not process you as their loving family member, but just another aggressor who is entering the fray.
The first thing you have to do is to stay calm. Evaluate the situation and read what the dogs are saying. Generally speaking you can let loud dog arguments take care of themselves. If dogs are roaring and snarling at the tops of their lungs (especially if there are barks mixed into the sound array), it means that the dogs are basically "trash talking" to each other. The more flashy and noisy the argument is, the less likely you'll need to get involved. In most cases if you leave the dogs to their own devices they probably won't hurt each other, or at most will leave a few small punctures around the face, ears and neck. Such arguments might last only a minute or so from start to finish (although because your own adrenaline will be surging as you watch, it will certainly seem to be a lot longer). Once the dogs break off, they usually shake out their bodies and reconcile, or just attend to something else as though nothing had happened.
Serious dogfights are usually quiet, or the aggressor may be quiet while the victim dog screams. It is only a serious fight that may require your intervention. And it is in those situations that you are placing yourself in jeopardy, so think carefully before you act.
If you are outside, a jet of water from a garden hose has been shown to be an effective way to distract the dogs long enough so that you can get them under control. If you're in the house, a bucket or large pot of water can also be used although it is less effective. Don't worry about the mess it's easier to clean up water than blood.
Don't waste your time screaming at the dogs. It hardly ever works. A truly loud sound, like that of an air horn, can sometimes bring the fight to a halt, but most of us don't wander around carrying air horns.
A number of dog trainers have suggested that shoving a board or sheet of plywood between the two dogs may help, but that seems incredibly difficult to me. Besides, unless the dogs have chosen to start the fight in your home workshop, where you going to find the board?
One method of physical intervention that does work is to use a blanket or sacrifice a jacket or a coat. If you toss it over the fighters—one over each works best—it will muffle the outside stimuli and cut off the sight of each dog's opponent, and thus reduce the arousal level. Because it provides a physical barrier as well as containment of the dog, the blanket will also cushion the effect of teeth on skin while the humans reach in and physically separate the dogs by picking up or moving away the wrapped combatants.
The safest way to break up a dogfight requires two people. Each person grabs the back feet of a dog and then lifts the dog up like a wheelbarrow, so that only the front legs are on the ground. (If you are desperate you can lift the dog by its tail, although that is less secure and may damage the dog's tail or bladder.) Both of you now pull the dogs apart. It is critical not to release the dogs at this point or the fight will begin again. It is also important to start turning in a circle or slowly swinging the dogs in a circle while you back away from the other dog. Remember you've metaphorically got a tiger by the tail, and you have to keep moving to keep the dog from curling and coming back and biting the person holding its legs. When you move or circle, the dog has to sidestep with its front feet or he will fall on his chin. If you slowly continue to back up and circle the dog can't do any damage to you. However to ensure that the fight will not begin all over again when you release the dogs, at least one of them needs to be dragged into an enclosure such as another room, a kennel, or a yard. If you don't do this, there is a high probability that the dog will either return to the fight or try to turn and attack the person who held its feet.
If you are by yourself, things get dicey. Sometimes, if one of the dogs is a clear aggressor and the other is clearly the victim, using the wheelbarrow lift that I described above on the aggressor can break up the fight long enough so that the underdog has a chance to run away. However if you can't determine that the scene will actually play out this way, your goal is still to break up the fight without getting hurt. So first get a leash (even if that means allowing the fight to continue while you were doing this). The dogs are almost always locked onto one another, so this gives you a chance to walk up and loop the leash around the lower hindquarters are of the dog that is on top. You do this by threading the leash through the handle. Now slowly back away while you drag the dog to a fence or some other secure object that you can tie the leash to. Your aim here is to effectively create an anchor for one of the dogs. Once that dog is anchored you can walk around and grab the back legs of the second dog (using the wheelbarrow technique) and pull it away from the dog that is tied up. Remember to back up and circle while you drag the dog into another room before you release its back legs. Then return to the dog that you've anchored to the fence and put him or her into another room.
Do not immediately try to check the dogs for injuries — they are too aroused at this point and may turn on you when you approach or touch them. Wait until they calm down (which also gives you a chance to sit down and take a stiff drink).
Remember that breaking up a serious dogfight can be dangerous. Also remember that most of the time dogs will come out of a dog argument often uninjured. That means that if you keep out of it, you will remain uninjured as well.
Stanley Coren is the author of many books including: Gods, Ghosts and Black Dogs The Wisdom of Dogs Do Dogs Dream? Born to Bark The Modern Dog Why Do Dogs Have Wet Noses? The Pawprints of History How Dogs Think How To Speak Dog Why We Love the Dogs We Do What Do Dogs Know? The Intelligence of Dogs Why Does My Dog Act That Way? Understanding Dogs for Dummies Sleep Thieves The Left-hander Syndrome
Copyright SC Psychological Enterprises Ltd. May not be reprinted or reposted without permission
Stanley Coren you are always the voice of reason when it comes to dogs. Do you have a favorite dog charity? I would like to donate a small gift on your behalf to celebrate the good you do.
The best way is to use s fire extinguisher I think it's the loud one that fires out s mist for electrical fires
I have 5 Boxers .Two males of the said pack often fight. Its a real nightmare and almost imposible making them stop. I WILL follow your advice. I never thought that could work. So I will be ready for next time it happens!!
Raising Multiple Dogs
Can you please consider writing an article on "Pack Management" or raising multiple dogs in a household?
Some trainers have recommended establishing a hierarchy of dominance, and others simply recommend consistent training of each individual dog in the group. In my home, raising two border collie/lab/mix brothers, at dinner for example, both dogs are trained to sit and wait for us to tell them they can begin eating, and we always set down Walter's bowl before Vick's. After dinner, they are directed to sit, and Walter's leash is attached a moment before Vick's, and when we come back inside, Walter's leash is detached a moment before Vick's. Is it better to maintain an established order in this way, or is it better to vary it?
Thank you for sharing your wisdom and experience with canine psychology.
I would beg to differ here.
Perhaps the very first rule is, do not do anything until you are positioned and ready to do it.
Yes, a garden hose is safe and will stop many fights, but not the serious ones unless you know how to use it. The same for a bucket of water. I had to grab the hose from one person when it had no effect and, once you fully cover their eyes/nose/mouth with the water, it took all of 3 seconds to stop the fight.
A board or piece of plywood seems incredibly difficult to you? There I'll agree with Sophia Yin, that anything usable as a barrier will often interrupt a dog fight long enough for you to gain some control, and is far safer than many other options.
Don't waste your time screaming, it hardly ever works? Well, that's like what I said about the water hose above. If you run around the dogs screaming, you might as well save your breath. However, if at the start of a non-serious fight, I walk over and give a sharp yell and clap directly over the dogs, it will many times stop the issue. How often does it really work? With hundreds of attempts with shelter dogs, over 80% of the time. Some people carrying air horns had no better results. Especially those who used the air horn wrong.
Throw a blanket on them? Well, if that were a serious fight, I'd run like hell, as blocking vision with no physical constraint is about the most dangerous thing you could do. If you threw a blanket over my head, it certainly would not reduce my arousal level. And grabbing a dog with a blanket on him means he'll blindly react to the pressure.
On the back leg lift, are you forgetting that some dogs will do a bite-and-hold? That pulling back during that may seriously injure or kill one of the dogs? And that when pulling back you always move opposite to the dog's head. When done properly it's a fairly safe approach, but will not always work and often requires two people.
Yes, most dog fights are little more than mild altercations, which they will either settle by themselves, or which can be easily broken up. And unless you attend to your own safety first, you can't help the dog.
I must say that the wheelbarrow method did not work whenever I have tried it. Covering their heads with jackets, loud noises to distract or copious amounts of water have worked!
Thank God the wheel barrow
Thank God the wheel barrow has always worked for me.
Dog "fight" advice, good stuff!
Bravo to you Dr. Coren for providing insight and proper management to those involved witnessing dog-related altercations. Hopefully folks will remember some of these steps, should a nasty situation break out.
Always found bucket of preferably cold water over their heads most effective. Think it's a mixture of shock and a second or two of difficulty breathing that makes them hesitate. Only ever been bitten by two dogs, not seriously, they were a toy poodle and a Yorkshire terrier.
What about sonic repellants? or pepper spray?
I was wondering about the best way to protect myself from aggressive dogs when hiking or biking. I've seen videos of something called "Dazer" that is a sonic repellant, that seems to work really well. But I've also heard of a pepper spray called "Halt!" that postal carriers use.
Are either of these good, or is one better than the other? I would think that if either of them or both of them protect people from aggressive dog attacks, they would also break up a dog fight?
Dazer and pepper spray
I have no personal experience with "Dazer" so I can't comment on it, however pepper sprays, although they are effective, do have a major downside. If the pepper spray gets into the dogs' eyes it is quite caustic and can cause permanent damage.
So if you don't mind
So if you don't mind explaining, what is the best way to protect yourself from aggressive dogs when hiking or biking? I couldn't even count all the times I've turned the corner on a trail and startled a dog, hiking off leash in a park with a "dogs on leash" sign at the entrance, only to have the owner make some dismissive comment when they become aggressive, or be entirely absent or unresponsive. A friend of mine insists in this situation I should continue and act like the dog doesn't exist, and another that I should stop and not move until the owner gets the dog. I have friends that insist they go into their house first so I don't startle their dog, can't imagine what suddenly hiking around a corner in the woods could trigger. Do they make doggie tasers? Just kidding, sort of.
Re: So if you don't mind
I have dealt with this many times. So many people get jealous of your dog or how well trained it is. Other dogs get jealous of the relationship you and your dog may have. In these simple quarrels I have found that simply getting between the attacking dog and your dog and ignoring them as you hastily get on your way often works. Be on your way quickly as if you don't have time to deal with they nonsense. A dog will usually not persist on an attack of another do from the rear if the dog is just ignoring it. Ignore the offended owner because you have your own schedule and priorities and better things to do. But in order to do this you have to have control of your dog (obedience trained) and on a control (6 foot) leash. But this has always worked for me. I don't want a dog that turns to be mean to other dogs or people and I don't want a dog with scars on it's face.
Breaking up dog fights
In general very good advice,but remind yourself. there is not 1 way to break up fights. There are several ways. what works for one. does not work for another (set of dogs).
Besides bitch fights are so extreme and fierce. they will kill each other. really.
If you know 2.bitches are fighting especially.siblings or family of each other. Do not wait, intervene asap. Getting their behind legs is a good idea indeed. prevent eye contact between the dogs asap. Separate. let them cool off. if they fight too often they remember. so in casenof bitches/siblings do not wait and prevent if possible.
"there is not 1 way to break
"there is not 1 way to break up fights. There are several ways. what works for one. does not work for another (set of dogs)."
Came here to say this. The pulling the dogs away by the collar (disparaged in this article) is the fastest and therefore safest and best method in some cases. But impossible in some others. I do know of people getting injured and bitten using the wheelbarrow method. And if the dogs are latched on, it simply doesn't work. Anyway, there is no one method that works in every case, and there is no method that is completely safe for the humans.
This article seems NOT AT ALL practical to me. How would it be possible to grab a dogs back legs, in the moment when aggression is happening. my dog is a labernese (Bernese/lab mix - 80 lbs) is strong and exhilarated with extra adrenaline pulsing through her veins. there is NO WAY, I would be able to grab her back legs. Also. on the odd occasion when some aggressive behaviour is happening, it is surely not in my own backyard, rather when we are walking in a public space or in an off leash dog park, where water hoses, and bull horns are not readily available. I would be very interested to read an article about pack mentality. In my neighbourhood, there is an off-leash area where many neighbours walk their dogs. My dog has grown up with some of these dogs (all between 2-3 years of age) and when a new dog come into this area, and not all are friendly, our dogs have developed a pack mentality. On occasion there have been a few scuffles. what do we do in this case?
Kimberlee, on leg lifts to stop fights you do have a point. I've easily done that with a 120# Rottie, but it's nearly impossible with a 6# Chihuahua. Next, air horns are not the same as "bull" horns. You can carry an air horn in your back pocket, or on a belt clip.
On dog Pack Mentality you can read thousands of articles on the web, although none have any basis in science. We often have new dogs coming into the dog park, and most others initially crowd around to meet them. But there's no hint of anything like a "pack", and occasional scuffles are between individual dogs. What you do then is to look for the people who are actively watching and managing their dogs, and ask them for advise.
Caretaking 'pets' when humans can't even caretake their own?
Few people are responsible enough to have pets.
And those that are are likely more concerned with helping other humans.
If 'pet owners' think that it is enough to feed or put a roof over your pet with the occasional 'walk' and while it gives you unconditional love (prolly their approach to children, too), they are clearly still suffering from the effects of complex ptsd from their own abusive childhoods.
I see so many dog owners who clearly are so broken that they project all their unfulfilled attachment needs onto their confused pets.
Are there not greater concerns to be addressed?
When there are no abused children in this world, only then should we even consider the possibility of 'having pets.'
The hubris and speciesism of humans knows no bounds.
Humans and pets
Nate H., it sounds to me like YOUR hubris knows no bounds.
Best way to stop a dogfight is probably some AAA guns and Anti Aircraft launchers tbh
Interesting read. I never thought about this before.
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I have worked with packs of dogs for 22 years now. I can say from experience this is the best advice I have read for breaking up dog fights. I have used all of these methods, (very rarely fortunately) and I have found that they all work in the right context. I have been bitten 3 times over the years, never by a bully breed. I would add, if you happen to have perfume, mouthwash or strong essential oils, you can try a few big drops quickly and carefully right under the combatants noses. They break up really fast and peacefully, always looking very confused and a little "what the heck was that?!"
I stopped a german
I stopped a german shorthaired pointer that was built like a freight train from killing a yorkie by grabbing her collar and holding her, or trying to. I don't know what the owner was doing. He was actually rolling around on the ground. The yorkie was severely injured but lived, and the pointer was euthanized. Turned out she had killed a small dog before. After this I developed a severe fear of dogs and really believe that a lot of dogs are just attacks waiting to happen. Reality is the average owner isn't educated or even responsible and doesn't live in a vacuum where nothing will ever antagonize their dog. Attacks happen, usually when there aren't any blankets, garden hoses, or persons who know how to pick up a huge dog by its back legs without being bitten around. When it happened I was very upset and talked to people about it, and was shocked by how common it was. A few people I knew had even been severely bitten by dogs.
I think a dog is a weapon
I have a friend, who is a breeder of standard poodles, take this view:
"A dog is a loaded weapon". This is a good analogy.
He governs himself and his dogs appropriately.
Thank you for trying to set media straight that it was not a pit bull thing. I have a household of unpaved labs and knock on wood, it's been a while, but I have fights. Often with no indication on what starts it but I'm assuming they are trying to determine who is pack leader. I currently have three but had four and they are mother daughter pairs. My yellow lab would get into a fight between my two mother's as if she was protecting hers as she always went after the other. Breaking up three home alone was always a challenge. Unfortunately it was filled with me screaming and grabbing scruff of a neck and pulling them apart. In the future I plan on trying not to yell and use the blanket approach.
Again, thank you for pointing out that pit bulls are not the only dogs that fight.
I read an article by a dog
I read an article by a dog trainer who was saying that things can be extra tough for lab owners, since other people always assume that the labs are friendly based on breed alone. So other people will try to force the lab and its owner into dog interactions that they might not be comfortable with. Do you find this to be the case?
As a pitbull owner, I certainly don't like people jumping to negative conclusions about my dog, but there is an upside to the fact that they automatically respect him, after all he is extremely selective in regards to large male dogs, However, he really really loves tiny dogs. (But sometimes their owners are afraid of him, even when it is obvious that he and the little dog really love each other).
Oh, it's a breed thing. Look up human/animal fatalities and serious maulings, you will see one breed sticking out over and over. This is horrible advice. Pit bulls require a device called a breakstick, it's breed specific equipment to "unlock" a determined mind that won't let go.
If for some reason only a dog bred for bloodsport will do, you better get a breakstick, learn how to use it, and have it ready go for that moment when pibble goes pit bull.
Better advice, if you must have a pit bull, it should be the sole dog and it need not be around other dogs. This is advice from a pit bull advocacy. Look it up.
"a breed thing"?
Would you mind telling from what source you are getting this information? I DID look it up, because I do realize that there are breed specific traits that one should consider before deciding if a particular dog is right for you and wanted to know more about what I might be getting into when a staffy looking critter became our responsibility. Nearly everything you said is wrong, myths that are expressly debunked on nearly every authoritative website about pitbulls. (And actually most of the animals described as such aren't that specific breed at all, but often a mutt with some bully breed genetics that give them a stocky build, wide head, or other commonly associated feature of many different terriers that are often mislabeled as pitbulls in the first place, but that notwithstanding, the myths are still not true regardless of what common trait they might share.)
The original purpose of the breed was not bloodsport at all, but specifically for minding children! They were used as "nanny dogs" because they were loyal and gentle and intelligent, and beyond everything determined to a fault. The trait that made them attractive as fighters is called "gameness" and means that once the chosen task is at hand, it is met with fierce determination that it be completed. That determination is greater motive than most regular deterrents such as danger or threat or even grave injury. BUT that objective might be anything at all, from retrieval to protection or whatever. This fierce dedication is the reason they are formidable, not because they have some supernaturally strong jaws or other nonsense. They are simply strong dogs who are just as dangerous as other strong dogs are if you end up in a physical contest with one.
Your post is full of the same hysterical nonsense that has been sensationalized and erroneously hyped in media reports for years and any advocacy group website will provide correct factual information directly refuting these unfair stereotypical accusations.
I think that most of the time people are the problem when the dog is just doing what it knows to do. When it goes badly its usually because of something the dog or the person had been taught by another idiot who has no idea what they are talking about. Or something that was correct in how it was explained but badly applied by an idiot. Or something that was incorrectly interpreted by an idiot in general.
I am very glad I bothered to research before committing to raise our square headed mutt, or I might have contributed to the dangerous misinformation pool myself by inadvertently telegraphing signals of insecurity to a sensitive animal who might try to protect me from my own nervousness by attacking anything nearby that he might assume to be the cause of it. Fortunately, for him and everyone else around me, I have better sense and did my homework first and now know that I will never have that problem because I know myself and my dog and how to deal with his given traits.
People would run into far less trouble by arming themselves with information from more than one source, and weighing the qualifications of each before choosing which to trust. Its a shame that dogs get the blame for the dumb things people cause.
I used a cattle prod to break up a fight between my Airedale and Lab. It only took a second and I never had to use it again.
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I will start with a warning. Unless you have a lot of experience do not try and break up a dog fight by yourself. Never step in the middle of two loving pets and try and grab them by the collar to stop a dog fight. If you try this, the chances of you being badly bitten are extremely high. People don't understand that 2 animals in the middle of a fight are in survival drive. If they see you at all, they don't look at you as their loving owner. When you charge in and grab them they either react out of a fight reflex and bite, or they see you as another aggressor. When they are in fight or flight mode they will bite you. You can take that to the bank.
The safest way to break up a dogfight requires 2 people. Each person grabs the back feet of one of the dogs. The dog back feet are then picked up like a wheelbarrow. With the legs up, both dogs are then pulled apart.
Once the dog fight is broken up and the dogs pulled apart it is critical that the people do not release the dogs or the dog fight will begin again. The two people need to start turning in a circle, or slowly swinging the dogs in a circle while they back away from the other dog. This stops the dog from curling and coming back and biting the person holding their legs.
By circling the dog has to sidestep with its front feet or it will fall on its chin. As long as you slowly continue to back and circle, the dog cannot do any damage to you. To insure that the fight will not begin all over again when you release the dogs, one of the dogs needs to be dragged into an enclosure (i.e. a kennel, the garage, another room) before the dog is released. If you do not do this, the dogs will often charge back and start fighting again or if you release the dog to quickly the dog will turn and attack the person who had his feet.
Dog fights are a very dangerous thing to try and break up alone. You should never rush in and try and grab the dogs to pull them apart. They are in high "fight drive" and are not thinking clearly when fighting. If someone grabs them they will bite without even thinking about who or what they are biting. This is how your loving pet can dog bite the living crap out of you in about a second and a half.
In reality it probably doesn't even know it's biting you. I compare it to a bar fight. If a person comes up behind 2 guys fighting and just reaches out and grabs the shoulder of one of the combatants most of the time the fighter is going to turn and throw a punch without even looking at who or what he is hitting. This is because his adrenaline in pumping and he is in "fight drive".
The worst case scenario is that you are alone when a serious fight breaks out. There are a couple things that you must keep in mind:
- Keep your cool you have a job to do.
- Do not waste time screaming at the dogs. It hardly ever works.
- Your goal is still the same you must break up the fight without getting hurt.
- Go get a leash (allow the fight to continue while you do this).
- Dogs are almost always locked onto one another. Walk up and loop the leash around the back loin of the dog by either threading the leash through the handle or use the clip. I prefer the thread method.
- Now slowly back away and drag the dog to a fence or to an object that you can tie the leash to. By doing this, you effectively create an anchor for one of the dogs.
- Then walk around and grab the back legs of the second dog and drag it away from the dog that is tied up. Remember to turn and circle as they release.
- Drag the dog into a dog pen or another room before you release the back legs.
- Go back and take the dog off the fence and put him or her into a dog kennel.
- Sit down and have a stiff drink (or two).
A point I would like to make is that if you see two dogs out there squaring off through body posturing (i.e. one dog with stiff legs and tail straight up in the air putting his head over the shoulders of the other to show dominance) do not run out there screaming "NO NO NO. " Most of the time this is going to trigger the fight. A lot of times dogs will posture and one will give in and back away. They settle their dominance issue without a battle. I NEVER, NEVER, NEVER recommend testing this situation. It's not worth the fight that erupts if you are wrong. But I can tell you of a couple of situations at my kennel where I went outside and 2 males were loose that I would have thought would fight to the death. Obviously they determined that today is not the day to argue. I also know that had I gone out screaming before they settled it themselves there would have been a nasty fight.
If you have 2 dogs that you are trying to get to live together it’s best to make them wear muzzles all the time. They are not expensive but very effective for this work.
With muzzles on you can test your training and if the dogs become aggressive you can safely step in and correct the dogs. It's important to make sure the muzzles are properly fit and on securely. It's also a good idea to have the dogs wear 18-inch draglines.
When one of the dogs even acts like it is going to challenge the other dog you need to INSTANTLY get after that dog. Your the pack leader and pack leaders are the ones who determine when to fight or be aggressive.
A last word of warning. If you or someone you are with gets bitten and has to go to the emergency room, the most common treatment is to leave the dog bite wounds open so they can drain. They normally should not be stitched. The only time most doctors will stitch up a dog bite is if it's on the face. By closing the wound there is a much higher chance of infection. If the doctor that you see wants to stitch normal puncture wounds, ask for a second opinion. Because of my experience with police dogs I knew better than to allow my hospitals Physician Assistants to stitch my employee. I voiced my concern but she insisted on stitching. I should have asked for a doctor's opinion. The wounds got infected and we had him back in the emergency room (at a different hospital) 2 days later. They took the stitches out, inserted packing and put him on "IV's" with antibiotics.