Witnessing a dog fight is extremely unnerving and scary, especially when your dog is involved. As we know, dogs are designed with sharp teeth and strong jaws and can inflict a lot of damage in a short amount of time.
When a dog fight happens, most owners tend to freeze due to panic or attempt to grab their dogs collar with their hands to separate them. These are natural instincts and are also the two things you should not do in this situation.
Your first reaction should not be to abuse the other dog’s owner or scream at the dogs to separate them, as the loudness and intensity of your voice will likely only fuel their aggression.
You should never, ever attempt to reach in and grab their collars.
This is a sure-fire way to get yourself bitten, and this is not because the dog wants to attack you, it likely doesn’t even realise who you are. At that point in time, they are in the heat of the moment and are defending themselves against anything that tries to attack or grab them.
The absolute first thing you must do is… STOP!
Pause for a few seconds to gather yourself, and then proceed with the following, depending on if you are alone or with someone else.
WHEN THERE ARE 2 PEOPLE, FOLLOW THESE STEPS:
- Take a few seconds to gather yourself
- Communicate with the other person (they are not mind readers, and will likely do the opposite if you have not discussed what your plan is!)
- Both people need to simultaneously grab the hind legs of each dog
- Simultaneously pull each dog back and away from each other
- Keep moving backwards to create as much space between the dogs as possible
- Whilst moving backwards, turn them in a FAST circle. Turning them in a circle gives them something else to focus on other than the fight and will decrease the chance of them biting you.
- Keep moving away and in circles, until one dog is locked away in a separate yard or area if possible
- If you can not separate them into different areas, then keep moving back until you can grab their collar safely
- Walk away and assess any damage when you are both safe. If you release your dog too soon, he will turn back in and attempt to continue the fight.
WHEN YOU ARE ALONE, FOLLOW THESE STEPS:
- Take a few seconds to gather yourself
- Make a loop around your dogs flank with your lead
- Pull the dog backwards using the lead that is secured around his flank and tie it to a tree or anything close bythat will support his weight. This will move both dogs, which is ok at this point.
- Once one dog is secured, move behind the unrestrained dog and grab his hind legs and pull him back/away from the fight.
- As soon as they are separated, turn him in a FAST circle to distract him. Turning him in a circle gives him something else to focus on other than the fight and will decrease the chance of him biting you.
- Lock him away in a separate room, yard, pen or anywhere you can. You can also tie him up if that is your only option.
- When you approach the first dog you tied up, ensure you do it cautiously as he will still be fired up.
- When you and the dogs are safe, assess the damage
NOTE: These steps are a guide only and you must assess each situation yourself. Also, these steps are for a genuine fight. If the dogs are only growling, then these steps are not necessary and placing a pillow or object between them or a blanket over one, is often enough to diffuse the situation.
Before attempting to separate dogs, ensure it is a battle that you will win. Meaning, if you are a petite woman and there are two large dogs fighting, you may not have the physical strength to separate them and will run the risk of one of them turning on you. Separating a dog fight is dangerous and if not done correctly, you will likely be bitten. This is a situation that I hope you are never faced with, but if you are, be smart… if you don’t think you will be able to execute your plan effectively, then you may need to let them fight it out if you can not find help.
Sticking with these courtesy rules will help prevent fights:
- If you are not in an off-lead area, do not have your dog off-lead
- If you are in an off-lead area but someone else has their dog on the lead, do not let your dog go up unless you check with the owner first (Yes, I know this is an annoying situation but sometimes people are training their dog or trying to just get them used being in the same vicinity of other dogs)
- Keep control of your dog when on the lead. Do not let it run in front of your feet and the passerby’s in order to sniff their dogs behind
- Do not assume that every big dog is aggressive. Your dog will pick up on your tension and assume that there is something to be frightened of and fuel any anxiety.
- Talk to other dog owners.This seems to be the most forgotten one. If you are uncomfortable with how they are interacting, then move away or kindly ask them to call their dog back.
- Remember, they are dogs and they are not going to interact with a ‘hello, how is your day’, they are likely going to bowl each other over and smear saliva all over each other’s face and body. This is what being a dog and having is all about for them.
Dogs are never going to interact like humans, and will never talk/play with another dog if they do not like them, just because it is the polite thing to do. The more we learn about their behaviour, the happier we can all live with these beautiful creates in our lives.
I would love to hear any feedback or experiences that you have!