Pro Dog Trainer Tips: Breaking Up a Dog Fight

Ask any dog trainer and they will tell you that pet owners tend to freak out over the prospect of a dog fight.

This is a valid concern, as both you and your pet could be seriously injured in the course of a serious fight. However, not every skirmish warrants getting involved. The key, dog trainers stress, is knowing the difference.

When Are Dog Fights Most Likely to Occur?

Even if you always keep your pet leashed and in your control, not every pet owner is as responsible. You never know when a loose dog – or one on an extended retractable leash – will run up on you during a walk.

Fights can also occur in your home. If you have multiple dogs in your household, your pets may tangle on occasion over resources. When you add a new pet to your pack, they may wrangle to establish pack order. Even a visitor to your house or a nearby female dog in season can change the dynamics and invite conflict.

Not every elevated interaction between dogs is truly a fight, or even something you should try to diffuse. However, it is important to understand the difference between these interactions and a true dog fight.

How Dog Trainers Evaluate a Fight Among Your Own Pets

Dog trainers typically evaluate skirmishes between your own pets differently than those that occur with your pet and a strange dog.

At home, in many cases, what appears to be a fight is actually an attempt to establish dominance or allocate resources. These interactions, even though they may cause you alarm, are typically harmless and last only a few seconds. Yelling or running toward the animals can sometimes even make the situation worse.

If one (or both) appear to have any injury, or if the skirmish goes on more than a minute or so, you obviously need to intervene. A dog trainer can show you how to do so safely – for you and your pets.

If these incidents happen only occasionally in your home, it’s probably nothing to worry about. If they happen frequently, or if they appear to be elevating, talk to a professional dog trainer. They can help you identify what’s going on and how best to address it, to restore harmony among the pack.

How Dog Trainers Evaluate a Fight Between Your Pets and a Strange Dog

Dog trainers frequently hear horror stories from clients about surprise attacks from loose dogs or dogs whose owners do not maintain appropriate control. Fights can also occur in dog parks, which is one reason that we discourage our clients from exposing their pets to these potentially dangerous environments.

If your pet does become involved in a skirmish with a strange dog, try not to panic. And, before you attempt to intervene, try to evaluate the situation.

A true dog fight typically involves aggressive behaviors that include crouching, lunging, growling and snapping. Look for bared teeth, tucked tails and other signs of submission.

If you must intervene, do so with extreme caution – especially since you aren’t familiar with the other dog – otherwise you could be badly injured. Placing an object between the combatants is the best way to approach the situation if you’re alone. Use anything you have that will break eye contact, such a jacket or towel. A loud noise may help to distract them, as might spraying them with water.

If you have a second person nearby, you can attempt to simultaneously grab the hind legs of each animal and walk them backward like a wheelbarrow. Once you have them separated, remove your pet immediately from the situation.

A professional dog trainer can offer you more tips for safely breaking up a fight or, preferably, avoiding a dangerous situation completely.

In Salt Lake City and throughout Northern Utah, the experienced professionals of Innovative K9 Academy provide a variety of dog and puppy boot camps and classes. Contact us today to learn more about how a professional dog trainer can help you.