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How to Break up a Dogfight Without Getting Hurt (3 Tips)

Written by: Rachel Giordano

Last Updated on May 1, 2024 by Dogster Team

dogs fighting

How to Break up a Dogfight Without Getting Hurt (3 Tips)

Dogfights can be scary, and they most definitely happen. They can happen quickly, making you panic about what to do. Sometimes, a dogfight can be downright dangerous, especially if the dogs are large or giant breeds. In any event, your instinct is to step in and break it up so your pup doesn’t get hurt, but you need to do this safely. Nonetheless, an important question to ask is how do you break up a dogfight without getting hurt? We should mention that to keep yourself safe, do not get in between two fighting dogs. Try creating a distraction or using an object to separate the dogs from a safe distance.

In this guide, we’ll list the three ways to safely break up a dogfight to prevent injury to yourself and the dogs involved. We’ll also discuss how to prevent them in the first place.


The 3 Tips to Break Up a Dogfight

1. Create a Distraction

Dog whistle training
Image Credit: Jari Hindstroem, Shutterstock

First and foremost, rather than jumping between dogs fighting and potentially injuring yourself, create a distraction. For example, make a loud noise with a whistle or air horn. But what if you don’t have those items? If the dogfight is happening inside your home, try banging a couple of pots together. The loud noise will distract the dogs long enough to diffuse the situation.

If you don’t have anything to make a loud noise with, try throwing a blanket, sheet, or even a jacket over the dogs’ faces to prevent the dogs from seeing each other. If the dogs can’t see each other, you’ll have time to remove your dog from the fight.

2. Use an Object for Separation

Using a garbage can lid, a piece of plywood, a broom, or anything else you can get your hands on in the heat of the moment will work. Avoid using something that could hurt the dogs, and always refrain from getting your arms and hands close to the dogs’ mouths.

Never put your hands or face near the dogs’ mouths. The goal is to safely separate the dogs from each other without injuring them or yourself. If you don’t have an object handy, try spraying the dogs with a water hose; this may separate them long enough to get your dog to safety.

3.  Use the Wheelbarrow Method

For this technique to work, you need two people. When a fight ensues, one person grabs the back legs of one dog, and the other person grabs the other dog’s back legs. Keep in mind that this technique is not the safest or ideal, but it may be your only option at the time.

Our advice for using this technique is not to use it unless you’re an experienced dog handler. There’s a chance the dog may turn its aggression on you, which could lead to serious injury.


How to Prevent Dog Fights at a Dog Park

Man and woman breaking up a dog fight at the park
Image Credit: fotosparrow, Shutterstock

Unfortunately, not all dog parents have properly socialized their dogs to play nicely with other dogs, and that’s a risk you take when going to a dog park. Some dog parks have separate areas for large and small dogs, which is ideal for smaller dogs. When there are separate areas, the little guys don’t have to worry about getting into a fight with a big dog; this scenario could be disastrous and even cause death.

Not all dog parks are a bad idea, but before putting your dog inside a dog park, you may want to scope it out first. For example, when are the busiest times of day at the dog park? Would early morning or late afternoon be a better time to avoid a ton of dogs?

We’ve mentioned using an air horn to separate dogs in a fight, and if you frequent dog parks, it’s a good idea to keep one handy, just in case. Keep your dog on a leash when you first enter a dog park to get a feel for any other dogs already in the park. That way, if something is off, you can remove your dog easily and quickly.

How to Prevent Dog Fights at Home

Owning two or more dogs can increase the chance of dogfights, especially if one dog is more dominant than the other. Some dogs are more territorial, and a fight might break out over a favorite tennis ball or some other toy. It’s wise to remove an object that can cause aggression to avoid a fight. You should also feed the dogs either in separate rooms or on opposite sides of a room to prevent food aggression.

Is It a Rough Play or a Fight Ensuing?

two american bulldogs fighting
Image Credit: Zeralein99, Shutterstock

Understanding a dog’s body language is vital in knowing when to intervene before a dogfight can happen in the first place. Sometimes, dogs may be engaging in rough play, but that doesn’t mean a fight is about to happen.

Signs and behaviors that tell if the dog is just playing are as follows:
  • An open-mouthed grin
  • A bow with the backend up in the air
  • Bouncy movements
  • Play-growling
  • Falling down to expose the belly
  • Taking turns chasing each other
Signs to look for that may indicate a fight ensuing are the following:
  • Stiff body movement/predatory
  • Hair on back is raised
  • Closed lip with a growl
  • Snarling showing teeth
  • Pinned ears (the ears are flat against the head)
  • The other dog is trying to get away/showing stress


In Conclusion

Dog fights are scary when they happen, but if you know how to spot the signs, or better yet, learn how to avoid a dogfight ensuing altogether, you can save your dog and yourself potential harm or serious injury.

Remember to scope out any dog park initially before allowing your dog inside, and observe body language to ensure no aggression is present. Always carry something you can safely use to break up a dogfight, such as an air horn. If you have more than one dog in your home, feed on opposite sides of the room and remove any toys or objects that can cause territorial aggression.

Featured Image Credit: Dmussman, Shutterstock

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