When a dog fight suddenly and surprisingly breaks out, it can be an incredibly frightening experience for humans and dogs alike. The sounds made, the teeth bared, the sheer speed by which dog fights usually happen – it’s all very unsettling. Although we don’t like to think about it, it’s important to remember that dog fights can occur anywhere: at the dog park, during a play date in your own yard, even during walks. So it’s advised to be prepared, and to know what works best and doesn’t work best when it comes to breaking up a dog fight. The most important things to remember are to stay calm and not put your hands in the middle of the fight!

Different people have different opinions about what to do to actually break up a fight, but all agree that you should never stick your hands in a dog fight, even if you are trying to break it up. Also, do not pull at your dog’s collar because it’s best to steer clear of the mouth area. Most dog bites occur because a person is trying to break up a dog fight, and the dog will turn around and redirect onto the hand. Please avoid this trap. There are other ways to get separate dogs such as getting a broom or piece of cardboard to stick in the middle of the fight. This great article by BentleyBarkz.com has some very helpful tips about what you should do and what you should never do when it comes to breaking up a canine quarrel.

Dogs fight for some reason or another, so it is almost never for “no reason” that the fight happens. Often it’s hard to pinpoint what the trigger may have been, but common culprits are battles over food, bones, toys, or prey instincts that kick in when a dog an off-leash dog attacks an on-leash dog. There are some pooches who also just don’t like other canines, and it’s best to know that about your dog so you can stay away from other pups, keeping your own dog and others safe. It can also be very helpful to learn to your dog’s communication signals, and those of other dogs. Dog fights usually happen after a series of signals and warnings that too often we guardians miss. Is one of the dogs growling or baring teeth? Are hackles up? Are tails low and in between the legs?  For a list of canine signals and postures to become familiar with, click here!

Last but not least, if you find that your pup is getting into regular scuffles, please consider seeking the help of a certified, professional, positive-reinforcement-based dog trainer nearby who can help you asses and manage the behavior.

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