Breaking up a Dog Fight?


Reading Time: 10 minutes

Dog fights can be scary and dangerous. If you find yourself in a situation where two dogs are fighting, it is important to know how to break it up safely. This blog post will discuss the best way to break up a dog fight without getting hurt yourself!

Of course, it’s always better to prevent a dog fight than to have to break one up, so we’ll also talk about warning signs that a dog fight is about to break out, how to read dog body language, and more. Keep reading!

Why Do Dogs Fight?

There are many reasons why dogs may fight. It could be due to dominance, possessiveness, or even just a case of two dogs not liking each other. Intact dogs of the same gender will sometimes fight very aggressively – occasionally even to the death. Spaying and neutering will go some way toward curbing same-sex aggression. However, remember that if you have a naturally dominant dog, this will not alter his basic personality.

How Can I Tell if a Strange Dog Is Friendly?

There are a few things you can look for when determining if a dog is friendly. First, see if the dog is wagging its tail. This is usually a good sign that the dog is happy and wants to approach you. A dog’s tail can tell you other things, though – if it’s carried low, it might mean that the dog is afraid.

What Are the Signs of an Aggressive Dog?

The most common signs of an aggressive dog are the most obvious – growling, snarling, baring teeth, lunging, and biting. Take a look at the dog’s body language. If the dog’s hackles are raised or barking aggressively, this is usually a sign that the dog is not friendly.

However, not all dogs who exhibit these behaviors are necessarily ready to bite. Dogs may also show aggression when they feel threatened or scared, and they’d rather just go away than push the issue. If you’re unsure whether a dog is acting aggressively out of fear or aggression, it’s best to err on the side of caution and keep your distance.

If you’re out walking with your dog, and someone approaches with another dog, ask the person if it’s okay to socialize. If the owner says no, it is probably best just to turn and go in the opposite direction.

What if a Strange Dog Is Off-leash and the Owner Isn’t Present?

Unless the dog is displaying very obvious friendly behavior, again, go elsewhere. If he’s clearly not happy to see you and your dog, do everything you can to avoid a dog fight. Take a deep breath, remain calm, speak softly, avoid direct eye contact, and back away.

If your dog is small enough, remove him from danger by tossing him over a fence, into a nearby dumpster or truck bed, or even into a trash can if there’s nothing else available. You can retrieve him later.

If you have your phone with you, call 911. They can put you in touch with animal control and (if necessary) the police. Continue to speak softly. Avoid sudden movements, and try to get yourself to a place of safety.

What Can I Do if My Dogs Hate Each Other?

The sad fact is that most dog fights aren’t “stranger on stranger.” It’s usually a matter of personality conflicts in households with multiple dogs. These dangerous fights can be emotionally draining for the owner and, if not dealt with immediately, will continue to happen over and over.

Many dogs benefit from a few sessions with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist. However, if you have two dogs that just can’t seem to get along, your options are limited. You could keep them in separate rooms for the rest of their lives. You could muzzle them when they’re near each other. As a last resort, you could rehome one of the dogs.

What you can’t do is NOTHING. Otherwise, you’re just doomed to break up dog fights until one of the dogs involved dies. Not a great scenario, is it?

How Can I Break One Up if I Can’t Prevent a Dog Fight?

Before we go any further, I want to offer a huge disclaimer. I am absolutely NOT advising you to try to break up a dog fight. I am not telling you that there is any real way to break up a dog fight safely – if you try it, there is a very good chance that you will be hurt. If the dogs involved are large, you could sustain a very serious injury.

If you do wade in and try to break up two or more fighting dogs, and you get hurt, I take no responsibility. That said, I know that most people will intervene if they feel that their dog is in danger. I’ve done it myself, and have the scars to show for it.

I want to talk about several methods that are not safe – no way of trying to separate fighting dogs is truly safe – but will at least reduce the possibility of injury. We’ll start with the easiest methods and work up to the most difficult.

Most methods of separating fighting dogs are best achieved with two people, obviously because you’re usually dealing with two dogs. If you have to go it alone, it’s more difficult, but we’ll also talk about it. Additionally, having already touched on issues with unfamiliar dogs, I’m going to assume that if you’re trying to separate fighting dogs, they’ll be your own dogs.

Make a Loud Noise

You’re mistaken if you’ve ever thought that air horns are just used in transport trucks. Air horns can also be used to distract fighting dogs. But, of course, you can also try clapping your hands, blowing a whistle, or even cranking up that Ozzy Osbourne CD to max volume.

You have to keep in mind that this is a distraction that will work for mere seconds, just long enough for the dogs to go “What the hell?” so you can grab one and drag him off to safety in another room. Act quickly.

Throwing Water

This method of separating fighting dogs can be a double-edged sword. In some cases, the shock of cold water from a bucket or hose, or a squirt from a water bottle, will create a pause – but only a pause – in the dog fight. If the dogs are fully invested in the fight, though, each may perceive the other as the source of discomfort and behave even more aggressively.

Vinegar Spray

You can try using vinegar spray to break up a dog fight. Vinegar is an acidic substance, and when sprayed into the face of a dog, it will cause pain and irritation. However, this will often distract the dogs long enough for you to separate them safely.

If you do not have vinegar on hand, you can also use lemon juice, citronella spray, or hot sauce. However, these will work in a similar way to vinegar, causing irritation and pain when sprayed into the dog’s eyes.

These are “last resort” methods because they do cause serious pain and suffering. Once the fight is over, you’ll have to seek veterinary treatment for the affected dog or dogs. Please, only use this method if you’re concerned that the dogs are gearing up to fight to the death.

Use a Large Object

This is another “last resort” method that may or may not work to stop fighting. A friend of mine used it to good effect when her two Pomeranians were mixing it up. She simply waited for a break in the action, and while they were posturing, she shoved an empty freezer chest between them, grabbed one Pom, and put him in another room away from the other’s sight until they settled down.

Obviously, this method will not work to stop fighting with big dogs, who will simply jump over the freezer chest and resume savaging one another.

Use a Blanket

The theory here is, “What I can’t see won’t hurt me.” You can try throwing a blanket over the dogs, depriving them of the ability to see each other. If the dogs are small enough, you might be able to bundle one up in the blanket and take him away from his opponent.

The downside to this method is similar to that of the water method – either dog might panic and simply lash out – maybe at the other dog, or maybe at YOU.

Wheelbarrow Method

The wheelbarrow method is one of the best, least dangerous methods for breaking up fights between large dogs. It’s best achieved with two people, but one person can manage it if the situation is dire.

You use this method when the dogs are firmly latched on to one another. If you have a helper, then each of you will grab a dog’s hind legs, hold on, and lift them off the ground or floor. The dog will only be able to use his front legs, not the hind legs, and he won’t be able to turn his head far enough around to bite you. Then you will “wheelbarrow” him away from the other dog, keeping your arms firmly wrapped around his back legs. Eventually, one of the dogs will “unlatch,” and you can pull him away from the other dog.

With the wheelbarrow method, if you’re on your own, you need to try to get a leash on the collar of one of the dogs. Once you’ve done that, tie the leash to an immovable object like a stair rail or the knob of a closed door. Then, with that dog unable to move, you will go to the other dog and, holding his hind legs, wheelbarrow him away.

I need to point out here that when using the wheelbarrow method on large dogs, you’d better have a good handle on your own personal strength compared with that of your dogs. I tried it once, attempting to stop a dog fight between a Rottweiler and an English Mastiff.

I was on the Mastiff end. My friend, Joey, had the Rottie. Joey was shouting, “For God’s sake, Frank, hold that beast!” I’m no lightweight, but I was sitting on the floor, pulling back with every pound I had, and the Mastiff was still dragging me inexorably toward the Rottweiler! Fortunately, Joey was stronger and faster and managed to get the Rott to safety.

What’s the Final Word on Dealing With Fighting Dogs?

If you find yourself in the middle of a dog fight, there are some things you can do to break it up. The most important thing is to stay calm. If you panic, the dogs will sense your fear and may become more aggressive.

The first step is to try to get the dogs’ attention. Yelling or clapping your hands can sometimes startle them and make them stop fighting. If that doesn’t work, you can try spraying the dogs with water from a hose or throwing a blanket over them. Just be careful – you don’t want to make matters worse.

Once the dogs are separated, it’s important to keep them away from each other until they have calmed down. Otherwise, they may start fighting again. If you have to, put them in different rooms or tie them up on opposite sides of the yard.

And finally, remember that dealing with a dog fight is dangerous – you could get bitten yourself. So if at all possible, it’s best to let the professionals handle behavior issues that lead to dog fights.

It’s better to prevent dog fights than break them up. You don’t want to end up at a dog park, for instance, with a snarling, slavering monster on the end of the leash. So if you think you might have an aggressive dog and you can’t handle him on your own, see a dog trainer who can help you work toward achieving good behavior in your dog.

People Also Ask

Here are some other questions that people ask about dog fights and aggressive animals.

What Makes a Dog Aggressive?

There are a number of factors that contribute to how aggressive animals may be, including their breeding, socialization, and training. Some dog breeds are more likely to exhibit aggression than others; however, there is no one “most aggressive” breed.

What Dog Breed Is Most Likely to Bite?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no definitive answer to this question. However, they did release a report in 2000 that identified the breeds of dogs most commonly involved in biting incidents. These include Pit Bull types, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Huskies, Dobermans, and Chihuahuas.

Remember that these are all very popular breeds, so there will inevitably be more bite counts attributed to them. It has little to do with the nature of the breeds and everything to do with how many of them there are.

Can Dog Bites Get Infected?

Yes, they can get infected. If a dog bite breaks the skin, bacteria can enter the wound and cause an infection. That’s why it’s important to clean any dog bites immediately with soap and water. You should also see a doctor if the bite is deep or if you think there is a risk of infection. For more severe bites, you may need antibiotics to prevent infection.

Will My Dog Protect Me From Another Dog?

This is a common question that dog owners have. It’s understandable to want to know if your dog will defend you if another dog were to attack you. After all, your dog is your best friend, and you would hope that they would protect you in a time of need.

The answer to this question is not always black and white. There are a number of factors that will influence whether or not your dog will protect you from another dog. These include:

-The relationship between you and your dog. If you have a close bond with your dog, they are more likely to defend you in a time of need.

-The size of your dog. A smaller dog is less likely to be able to defend you against a larger dog.

-The temperament of your dog. A more aggressive dog is more likely to defend you than a timid dog.

-The training that your dog has received. A well-trained dog is more likely to respond appropriately in a situation where he may need to defend you.

Ultimately, whether or not your dog will protect you from another dog is something that can’t be determined definitively. However, if you have a close relationship with your dog and he is well-trained, then you have a better chance of him defending you in a time of need. Trust your gut and go with your instinct when it comes to your dog’s ability to protect you. He will usually always have your back, no matter what.

How Can I Tell if My Dog Loves Me?

There are a few ways to tell if your dog loves you. One is how he looks at you. A dog who loves you will usually have a soft, relaxed gaze. He may also lean into you when you pet them or rest his head on your lap.

Of course, the best way to tell if your dog loves you is simply by spending time with him. A dog who loves you will be happy to see you, want to be near you, and enjoy spending time with you. So if you want to know if your dog loves you, just spend some time together and see how he acts!


I hope that you have enjoyed this post. I also hope that you will never have to break up a dog fight. I’ve done it, and I can assure you that it’s not an experience that I would like to repeat. If you find yourself in that situation, please be very careful.

Always try for prevention first. Look for the warning signs that a fight is about to erupt. If it’s too late, stay cool and do what you can. Try to keep your dog safe, but remember that you also have to be safe.


Related Content:

The Facts About Dog Fighting
My Experience With a Boxer vs. Pitbull Dog Fight
15 Strategies for Avoiding Dog Park Fights (Video)