How to Break up a Dogfight

You’re out walking your dog when suddenly an unleashed dog charges straight at you with a far from friendly attitude.  In fact, his teeth are barred and his hair bristling, and he’s making angry snarls and barks.  You don’t have time to get away; the other dog runs into your leashed dog, who, naturally, fights back to protect both you and himself.  Somehow, your dog manages to slip out of his collar, and a terrible fight ensues.  What should you do to break up this dogfight without getting hurt?

Even if your dog is very friendly, he is bound to fight back when challenged.  Also, dog fights can be started pretty much anywhere, even from your own backyard.  It’s time to get educated on how to prevent a dogfight and what to do if it ever happens.


Do you know the sings of aggressive behavior in dogs?  Barred teeth, growls, and barking are the basics, but also watch out for bristling hair, tails held as straight as a flag pole and/or slightly wagging, prolonged eye contact, ears held forward and alert, standing very tall, and lunging or running at you or your dog.  If you see a dog doing this, avoid him by slowly and calmly walking in the opposite direction, totally avoiding eye contact.  If you are able to get out of sight of the aggressive dog, do so.  Also, if your car is near, get into it to avoid attack.  If you are worried about being encountered by an unrestrained dog, it might be a good idea to carry some form of pepper spray, just in case.

How to Break up a Dogfight

Though it is always safer and easier to prevent a dogfight, sometimes it is inevitable.  If a fight should occur, here are several ways to stop it:

  • If you have or can get a blanket (a coat will work too), throw it over the dog who is doing the most damage in the fight.  If you have more than one blanket, throw them on both of the dogs.  This will confuse them, enabling you to grab your dog and escape.
  • If you’re lucky enough to be near a hose or be carrying a bottle of water, pour it on the dogs.  This will often confuse them and cool off tempers.
  • Lift the dog’s hind legs to confuse him.  Be aware, however, that this puts you in danger of being bit!
  • If you have a leash, make it into a noose and slip it onto the head of the dog who is being the most aggressive in the fight.  Give it a hard yank, which will cut off the dog’s breathing for a second.  This will also force the dog to open its mouth and release its hold.  You can also take a dog’s collar into your hands and give it a quick twist to gain the same effect.  Be aware, however, that this puts your hands where they could get bit, so be extremely cautious!
  • It isn’t often a good idea to hit or kick a fighting dog.  In his fury, the dog could lash out at you.
  •  Yelling can sometimes scare certain dogs, but discontinue it if it only serves to escalate aggression.  If you have something that can make a lot of noise handy (if you’re near your house, banging a spoon on a pot could help distract the dogs, enabling you to calmly escort your dog to safety), use that.

Hopefully, you will never have to break up a dogfight.  Do everything you can to prevent it, and, if you find your dog in the midst of one, remember the tips above on how to break it up.  Don’t forget, if you’re concerned about being encountered by an unleashed dog while on a walk, arm yourself with some form of pepper spray.

If your dog initiates fights, you need to consult a professional dog trainer immediately!  Not only is this dangerous for other dogs, it is also dangerous for you and others who try to pull your dog away from a fight, risking getting a nasty bite.

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About Sissy

Hi! I'm Sissy, a Toy Poodle. On Doggy Times I share articles about dog training, socialization, care, and health. Check out the Trick and Dog Breed Pages to learn more about your furry friend and how to train him/her.

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