What’s the Best Way to Break up a Dog Fight

By: Nelson Ansah

More than 4.5 million individuals have reported dog bites in the United States alone? Of these lots, over 800,000 people required critical medical attention.

But let’s back up a bit. This statistic doesn’t mean dogs are deadly creatures. There’s a reason we know dogs to be man’s best friend.

According to Big Think, “Scientists found that dog owners’ aroma sparked activation in the ‘reward center’ of their brains, called the caudate nucleus. Of all the wafting smells to take in, dogs prioritized the hint of humans over anything or anyone else.”

However, dogs are social animals with a whole social order. In this order, there’s the occasional urge to establish dominance. Dogs duel to determine who’s the alpha, and these fights can get pretty intense. That’s not to say dogs don’t play-fight. But even play-fights can escalate pretty fast.

Best Way to Break up a Dog Fight
Picture Source: Pexels

Whatever the case, you’ll want to break up the fight before someone draws blood. How? Certainly not by shouting “No!” or getting in between the dogs.

According to University of British Columbia Psychology Professor Stanley Coren, “If you try to intercede in a dogfight and you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re most likely going to get hurt yourself.”

There are safer ways to stop a dog fight so you don’t end up hurt. In this article, we’ll discuss some of these ways and highlight some tips for effectively stopping a dog fight. Let’s get to it.

Prevention Is Your Surest Bet

Wouldn’t it be great to stop a dog fight before it even began? Luckily, you can. Dogs shoot off a lot of visual cues when they’re about to fight. Here are a few signs of an impending dogfight:

  • Lots of growling, whining, and barking
  • Stiff tail wags
  • Controlled paces as opposed to a bouncy movement
  • Staring contests with weights pulled forward
  • Exaggerated yawns

Even though this isn’t a comprehensive list, these cues show aggressive intentions. Recognizing them should give you a fair idea of what’s about to go down.

Once you identify the makings of a fight, be sure to move your dog away from the area. It’s difficult to tell the difference between roughhousing and fighting in dogs, even for pros. Err on the side of caution and put your dog away.


If you’re not too big on your dog reproducing, you can have it neutered. Neutering your dog reduces its chances of getting into a fight.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, “unneutered male dogs represented 90% of dogs presented to veterinary behaviorists for dominance aggression. They are also involved in 70 to 76% of reported dog bite incidents”.

You can think of this as a win-win situation. You get to lower your dog’s aggression and prevent future fights with potential mates.

Tips for Stopping a Dog Fight

If you have to get involved in a dog fight, then you should have these tips in mind.

Remain Calm

When you see your dog in a dogfight, your first instinct will be to jump in and rescue him. Don’t! What you should do is remain calm. Keep a clear head to avoid getting hurt.

Assess the situation and figure out what’s going on. If it’s just barking and snarling, you can turn a blind eye as the dogs may just be trash talking.

It’s like Stanley Coren says, “The more flashy and noisy the argument is, the less likely you’ll need to get involved. In most cases, if you leave the dogs to their own devices, they probably won’t hurt each other, or at most will leave a few small punctures around the face, ears, and neck.

Distract the Dogs

If it’s a real dogfight, you can try distracting the dogs. An effective distraction is anything loud enough to cause a momentary pause. For instance, clanging metal lids together or even playing an air horn. That should get their attention.

This momentary pause gives you time to pull your dog away to safety. It’s also a great way to help your dog escape if he’s the one on the receiving end.

Turn to Water Hoses

Surprisingly, blasting fighting dogs with water is an effective fight breaker. If the fight is going on outside, you can gauge a garden hose at the fighting dogs to break them up. It distracts them long enough that you can maintain some control.

Of course, you may not carry a water hose along for a walk, no problem. You can easily find hoses in the park too. If you can’t go through that hassle, you can always have citronella spray handy. Citronella is used to curb barking in dogs, but it can get the job done.

Sacrifice a Blanket

Another proven method to break up a dog fight is to toss a blanket over the dogs. This usually startles them and breaks off the fight. Why does this work?

Well, the blanket covers the dogs’ line of sight, reducing their aggression levels. It’s also an excellent containment method for fighting dogs.

Additionally, the blanket decreases the effects of scratches and bites from the fight. It also lowers your chances of getting bitten if you get into the mix to separate them.

Use the Wheelbarrow Technique

The wheelbarrow technique should be your last resort. It’s risky and requires many people to do the separation.

Each person grabs hold of a dog by the hind legs and raises it into the wheelbarrow position. Then you move the dogs further away from each other to stop fighting. This position makes it difficult for the dogs to keep fighting.

But, the dogs can turn on you as well. You’re holding a vicious tiger by the legs. It would be best to remember to turn in circles as you move the dog along. This way, you won’t get bitten in the legs.

Ensure you move the dogs away from each other, or they’ll continue right where they left off. You can move one of the dogs into an enclosed area so it can calm down. Don’t check for injuries immediately, as the dog may still have some pent-up energy to use.

When Do You Give Up

Get this straight; you can’t separate every dog fight you encounter. Sometimes, the dogs are too aggressive, and you’ll only hurt yourself when you try to stop the conflict.

In this case, let the fight die out. Most dog fights last only a few seconds, anyway. Hopefully, your dog doesn’t come off too injured. If your dog does, you’ll have to see your vet for an assessment.

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