break up dog fight

Most Common Techniques To Break Up a Dog Fight

The break up of a dog fight can be an alarming and distressing experience for anyone involved. In such high-stress situations, our instinctive reaction may be to scream and rush headlong into the fray with our hands, attempting to separate the combative canines.

However, it is crucial to recognize that this impulsive response can inadvertently result in severe injuries, not only to ourselves but also to the dogs engaged in the altercation. Every responsible dog owner should be equipped with the knowledge of how to break up a dog fight in a manner that prioritizes safety for all parties involved and minimizes the risk of exacerbating injuries.

When confronted with a dog fight, having a well-thought-out plan in place allows you to channel the surge of adrenaline into a swift and efficient separation process. When attempting to break up a dog fight, many individuals make mistakes, often grappling with their dog’s aggression and bearing injuries to their hands, arms or legs.

The techniques outlined below are specifically designed to not only safeguard your physical well-being but also to prevent exacerbating the injuries sustained by the dogs involved.

Understanding the Three Distinct Types of Dog Fights

The effectiveness of your response to a dog fight hinges on identifying the specific type of altercation at hand. Below, we delineate these three types of dog fights, with the caveat that such confrontations can evolve from one type to another if left unaddressed.

Dog fights can erupt in a variety of settings, including among dogs sharing the same household (intrahousehold aggression), encounters between unfamiliar dogs at the dog park, incidents at dog daycares, shelters, or confrontations between off-leash and leashed dogs.

The triggers for these clashes are diverse, often revolving around resource-related factors, such as food, treats, toys, or people. Tackling resource guarding tendencies in dogs early on is crucial. In some cases, dog fights may stem from a failure to interpret or respect another dog’s communication, particularly when early socialization opportunities were missed.

  1. No to Low-Contact ‘Scuffle’

This category of dog fight is characterized by a cacophony of noise, with ample snarling, growling, and barking. What distinguishes these scuffles is the fact that the dogs involved tend to avoid full-on biting and, as such, there is little to no actual bite contact.

The positive aspect here is that the ability to vocalize usually indicates that the dog’s mouth is not occupied with the other canine. These skirmishes can typically be quelled using hands-off techniques.

  1. Bite-Release ‘Scissor’ Fight

In this type of dog fight, bite attempts are common, but the dogs refrain from latching onto each other in a grab-and-hold manner.

Bite contact may occur, but the aggressor releases before making further attempts. Resolving these fights often commences with hands-off techniques but may necessitate a transition to hands-on separation options if the situation escalates.

  1. Bite-Hold ‘Grab’ Fight

The most severe of dog fights, these confrontations involve dogs who bite and firmly hold onto their opponent. They may either maintain their grip or shake the other dog.

While growling may persist, these fights are generally quieter than the other two types since the dogs’ mouths are preoccupied. Halting such conflicts usually requires immediate intervention through high-level hands-on techniques, often with the assistance of at least one additional person.

Comprehensive Strategies to Break Up a Dog Fight

Dealing with a dog fight is undoubtedly a harrowing experience, and the choice of intervention techniques can significantly impact the outcome. To ensure the safety of both humans and dogs, it is crucial to understand and apply appropriate hands-off and hands-on techniques for diffusing these intense situations.

Hands-Off Techniques:

Evaluate and Take a Breath:

In the event of a dog fight, it’s vital to first assess the situation and pause to formulate a plan. Recognizing the type of fight occurring helps determine the most effective approach, whether it necessitates hands-off or hands-on techniques. Consider what tools are nearby and whether you require assistance from someone nearby.

Urgency is particularly crucial when significant size disparities exist between the fighting dogs or when one dog has a firm grip on another’s airway or major blood supply.

Make a Loud Sound:

Employ a loud, commanding shout but avoid screaming, clap your hands, pound on walls, or create any loud noise to startle the dogs and encourage them to separate. Other sound-producing options include an air horn, a shaker can or jug, a can of compressed air, or clanging pots and pans together. Keep in mind the potential impact of loud sounds on human and animal hearing.

Water Spray:

Use a spray bottle, water hose, or even emptying a dog water bowl or water bottle on the dogs to disrupt their fight. The shock of water may startle them apart. Ensure that the spray bottle has a stream setting for effective use.

Physical Block Board:

Insert a large object between the fighting dogs, such as a dog gate, sturdy dog cot, chair, trash can, or plywood board. Livestock sorting boards, equipped with handles, are ideal for separating animals and are recommended for use in shelters or day cares.

If no substantial item is available, cautiously use a large shaker jug (filled with pebbles or pennies) to create a barrier, avoiding potential redirected bites.

Hands-On Techniques:

Leashed Separation:

Caution: Avoid this technique for bite-hold fights, as it could exacerbate injuries.

Employ leashes to separate the dogs. If leashes are not already attached to the dogs, secure a slip lead and loop it over one dog’s neck or around their body in front of their hind legs. If you are alone, pull one dog away and secure them to a fence or post before repeating the process with the other dog. Be mindful of the risk of redirected bites during this process.

Wheelbarrow Separation:

Caution: This technique should not be used for bite-hold fights.

This method requires two individuals. If alone, attempt it only if you can securely tether one dog to a fence or post with a leash. Both handlers grasp the dogs from directly behind, holding them at the top and inside of their hind legs. Lift the dogs like a wheelbarrow, turning them away from each other.

Gain better control with leashes and separate the dogs in different areas. Remember, the choice of technique should be tailored to the specific situation and the type of fight taking place. In all cases, prioritize the safety of all parties involved, and consider consulting a certified canine behavior consultant for assistance in understanding the root causes of dog fights and implementing preventive measures.

Understanding the Significance of Control Position

In order to safely break up a dog fight, you should first get to know the concept of “control position“. This strategic posture empowers you to effectively manage the situation while minimizing risks to yourself and the involved dogs. Let’s delve into a detailed explanation of the control position and its alternative form to ensure a comprehensive understanding.

The Control Position:

The control position entails positioning yourself such that you straddle the dog’s body, aligning your legs with their body, and both facing the same direction. Your legs should be situated in front of their hips but behind their ribs. With your hands, securely grasp the back of their neck by the scruff, and if available, hold onto their collar as well.

It is crucial to rely on the scruff for grip, as collars can potentially break, whereas scruffs do not. In the control position, you wield control over the dog’s body using your legs and manage their head with your hands. This dual control approach serves multiple purposes, including preventing redirected bites toward yourself and impeding the dog’s ability to engage in further biting attempts against the other dog once they are separated.

Alternative Control Position:

For specific scenarios involving small or very large dogs, or when you may not feel entirely comfortable straddling the dog with both legs, an alternative control position can be employed. In this variation, one of your hands maintains a firm grip on the collar/scruff of the dog while keeping that arm locked straight. Simultaneously, your other arm reaches for the dog’s back leg or hock (ankle) on the same side.

This alternative approach ensures that you still exert control over the dog’s head and body, despite not adopting the conventional control position. It offers flexibility in accommodating diverse dog sizes and individual comfort levels. Comprehending and effectively utilizing the control position and its alternative empowers you to break up a dog fight with greater safety and control.

These techniques prioritize the welfare of all parties involved, safeguarding against potential harm while facilitating a swift resolution to the altercation.

Effective Techniques for Managing Bite-Hold Fights

In the challenging context of bite-hold dog fights, where one dog maintains a firm grip on another, specialized techniques are required to ensure a safe and controlled separation. These methods are intended for use only in bite-hold situations, and they assume the application of the control position.

  1. Deterrent Spray to Release:

In bite-hold fights, commence by assuming the control position. Directly spray citronella spray into the nose and mouth of the dog that is biting. The distinctive smell and taste of citronella can prompt the biting dog to release its grip. As soon as the bite is released, promptly move the dogs away from each other while staying in the control position until both are securely restrained.

  1. “Feed” the Bite:

For bite-hold fights, this technique is ideally executed with two individuals: one to control the dog being bitten and the other to manage the biting dog. From the control position, gently push the biting dog’s mouth INTO the bite while concurrently keeping the victim dog steady or guiding them into the bite. Upon the release of the bite, swiftly separate the dogs, maintaining the control position until they are both secure.

  1. Use a Bite Stick (‘Break Stick’):

Exclusive to bite-hold situations, this method necessitates assuming the control position. Insert the pointed end of the bite stick behind the biting dog’s front canine teeth, taking advantage of the natural gap present. Avoid attempting to insert it between the back molars, as there is insufficient space.

Once inserted, wiggle the break stick in as much as possible. Then, rotate the break stick forward or backward, akin to revving a motorcycle engine, to induce the release of the bite. As soon as the mouth opens, immediately move the dogs apart, all while maintaining the control position until both are safely secured.

Ideally, when utilizing a break stick, there should be at least two individuals involved in separating the fighting dogs. One person assumes the control position over the victim dog, another takes the control position over the aggressing dog, and operates the break stick.

If available, a third person can enhance control and coordination in this crucial process, ensuring the safety of everyone involved. These specialized techniques are reserved for bite-hold fights, emphasizing safety and control throughout the separation process. By employing these methods judiciously and with the necessary precautions, you can effectively manage such challenging situations while safeguarding the well-being of both humans and dogs.

After You Break Up a Dog Fight : Ensuring Safety and Well-being

A dog fight is a distressing situation, and immediate actions following such an incident are vital for the well-being of all parties involved. Here’s a comprehensive guide on what to do after a dog fight, emphasizing safety, wound assessment, and behavioral considerations:

  1. Immediate Separation:

Immediately separate the dogs into their respective secure areas. This separation serves multiple purposes, allowing you to:

Assess Injuries: Use this time to evaluate if either or both dogs require veterinary care. Even seemingly minor puncture wounds or skin lacerations necessitate prompt attention to prevent infection. If the puncture is manageable, you can flush and bandage it. In such cases, you might avoid an emergency vet visit and instead schedule an appointment with your regular veterinarian for care.

Monitor Healing: For mild abrasions, follow proper wound care at home. However, if the affected area doesn’t exhibit improvement within a few days or worsens (becoming painful, swollen, warm, or moist), consider seeking veterinary assistance.

Attend to Dog’s Health: If a dog appears to be in pain, even without apparent physical wounds or experiences breathing difficulties, seek immediate veterinary care.

Attend to Human Injuries: If you or anyone else sustained injuries while intervening in the dog fight, seek immediate medical attention. This is especially crucial if you’re immunocompromised due to the elevated risk of infection from a dog bite. Inform the doctor that the injury resulted from a dog bite and ensure you have proof of rabies vaccination for the involved dog(s).

  1. Removal of Trigger Items:

Use the initial separation period to identify and remove any items that may have triggered the altercation. Consider whether adjustments to your management strategies are necessary to prevent future conflicts.

  1. Decompression Time:

Depending on the intensity of the fight, allowing the dogs time to decompress is valuable. This period enables the stress hormone cortisol in their bodies to return to normal levels. Pay close attention to their body language when considering reintegrating them.

If there are signs of tension or discomfort in the presence of the other dog, it may be best to keep them separated and consult with a certified canine behavior consultant for guidance.

  1. Avoid Punishment:

Never resort to punishing either dog for their involvement in the fight. Punishment is ineffective and can lead to negative emotional responses, increased stress, and a heightened risk of future aggression and fights. Instead, focus on positive reinforcement and behavior modification techniques to address underlying issues.

What to Avoid When Intervening in a Dog Fight

To break up a dog fight means that you’ll find yourself in a high-stress situation, and making the right decisions is crucial for everyone’s safety. Here’s a comprehensive list of actions to avoid when breaking up a dog fight, emphasizing safe and effective methods:

  1. Do Not Insert Your Hands:

Never attempt to put your hands directly between two fighting dogs. Avoid using your hands to pry open a dog’s jaw, and refrain from using your legs to step in between the fighting dogs or block one dog from the other.

Instead, opt for safer alternatives like leashes, blocking boards, or the control position to separate the dogs without risking serious injury. It’s essential to recognize that dog bites can result in severe, long-lasting injuries that may have debilitating effects. Losing a finger or suffering nerve damage is a situation best avoided.

  1. Avoid Kicking or Hitting:

Refrain from resorting to physical violence such as punching, kicking, or hitting the dogs in an attempt to make them let go. This approach is rarely effective and can worsen the situation. While it might deter a dog displaying aggressive behavior towards you or your dog, it could escalate the fight or lead to a redirected bite towards you.

To illustrate the ineffectiveness of physical aggression, consider a video of a dog fight between street dogs in another country. Despite the involvement of police officers and others using techniques like kicking, hitting, and even tasering the dogs, the fight persists. This serves as a stark reminder that using pain to separate fighting dogs can have adverse consequences.

When breaking up a dog fight, prioritize safe and non-aggressive methods. Avoid putting your hands or legs in harm’s way and refrain from using physical violence, as these actions can lead to further complications and risks. Instead, employ proven techniques that prioritize safety for both the dogs and yourself.

Creating a Comprehensive Dog Fight Kit: Ensuring Preparedness

Being prepared for unexpected dog fights is crucial, whether you’re a dog owner concerned about conflicts at home, an instructor leading group training sessions, or working in a dog-related field.

To enhance safety and effectiveness, consider assembling a comprehensive dog fight kit. If you operate a large facility, having multiple kits readily accessible in different areas is advisable. Here’s a list of essential items to include in your dog fight kit:

  1. Slip Leashes: These versatile leashes are essential for gaining control of dogs quickly and safely.
  2. Water Spray Bottle: Use a spray bottle to deploy water as a deterrent during fights.
  3. Shaker Cans or Jugs: These can be shaken to create a loud noise, potentially startling fighting dogs.
  4. Air Horn: An air horn is an effective tool for making a loud and attention-grabbing noise in emergency situations.
  5. Carabiner: Keep carabiners handy for attaching leashes to fences or posts. They can also be clipped to your dog’s leash handle or treat pouch belt for easy access.
  6. Deterrent Sprays: Consider using deterrent sprays like Spray Shield to discourage aggressive behavior.
  7. Break Stick: A break stick, available from sources like ACES and Barry’s Break Sticks, is a specialized tool used to safely separate dogs in a fight.
  8. Sorting Board: Also known as a Pig board, Livestock board, or Block Board, this item can help create a barrier between fighting dogs.
  9. Bite Gloves: Protect yourself with bite gloves, which offer dexterity while keeping your hands safe.

If you’re concerned about off-leash dogs potentially attacking your dog during walks or training sessions, consider keeping a mini fight kit with you. This portable kit can be a lifesaver in unexpected situations. In your treat pouch or bag, carry extra slip leads, citronella spray, and any other necessary items for quick response and control.

By maintaining a well-equipped dog fight kit, you can enhance safety and readiness in various dog-related environments, ensuring a swift and effective response in case of emergencies.

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