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I’m not going to disagree with anyone who says that breaking up a dogfight is dangerous – it most definitely can be. There is no “one size fits all” rule, though. If we’re being realistic, there are probably not many people who couldn’t grab a pair of toy poodles and pull them away from each other.
When it comes to large dogs, that’s when you can be in real danger. Having said that, though, it’s a rare person who can see their dog getting hurt and not want to intervene. So if you’re going to try breaking up the fight, it’s important to know how to go about it as carefully as possible.
The best and safest way to get a dog fight under control is with a bit of help. The first course of action is for each of you to grab the lower back legs of one dog, as close to the feet as possible. Both of you should grab at the same time if at all possible, in order to reduce the chance of being bitten by the dog whose legs you are not grabbing. Once you have the legs of your target dog secured, it will be virtually impossible for him to turn far enough to bite you.
Once the dogs are apart, keep holding on. Otherwise, they’re just going to start fighting again. Keep on holding your dog’s lower legs, and begin circling away from the other dog. You’ll be moving the dog pretty much the same way as you would a wheelbarrow, and the dog is going to have to move with you to keep from falling.
Now, one dog is going to have to be taken into an enclosed area (another room, garage, kennel, etc.) before being released, in order to keep it away from the other dog. Regardless of whether you are the person in the enclosure or the one outside, wait until your dog is calm before releasing it – otherwise, you could still be bitten.
Unless you are dealing with very small dogs, trying to pull them apart is not a good idea. When dogs are fighting, they can lash out and bite at anyone who is in contact with them – this means you too, not just the other dog.
If you are by yourself when a serious fight occurs, and you are determined to try to break up the fight, you will need to stay calm if you are going to get the job done. And of course you want to break it up as quickly as possible, so don’t bother wasting time shouting – it is not going to work.
The procedure is going to be almost the same as breaking up a fight between two dogs, but you’re going to have to go and get a leash to take the place of the other person. Once you have it, then loop the leash around the back legs of one dog by threading it through the looped handle. Then drag the dog over to something that the leash can be tied to. Now, the dogs are still almost certainly locked together, so go around behind the other dog, and grab its lower legs. Drag it away, circling as you go, the same way you would if you were a partner in a two-dog operation, and confine it.
You are probably going to hear from people who will ask you, “Why didn’t you use a shock collar?” This is a bad idea, because although shock collars may have some applications in certain very specific training situations, they are useless in an actual dog fight. The dog being shocked is simply going to blame the other dog for the shock, and fight that much harder.
Now, a bit more on shouting. Not only is it ineffective in breaking up a dog fight, in some circumstances it could make one even more likely. If you see dogs working out dominance issues, usually by standing stiff-legged and with one putting its head on the other’s shoulders, or even growling softly at one another, the worst thing you can do is start shouting “No!” This could actually trigger a fight when, left to their own devices, dogs will usually determine who will be the boss without doing battle.
Unless you are a trained dog handler, it is almost always best not to try to break up a dog fight. You could end up very badly hurt. If you are determined to do so, though, following the above guidelines might help to reduce your risk of harm. I am in no way recommending that you try to break up a dog fight and I am not saying that you can ever do it safely. I do know people, though, who take the position “My dog would die for me, and I would do the same for him.” In the final analysis, it’s your choice.