Stop A Dog Fight, 5 Tips To Safely Break Up A Fight

Safely Stop A Dog Fight

5 Lifesaving Tips

This week something happened which made me wonder “How Do You Actually Stop A Dog Fight?”

Here is what happened :

This week there has been a really distressing experience for a dog walker close to where I live. She was out walking her dog on a leash when another dog attacked him. Luckily a passerby intervened and they were able to stop the dogs fighting. However, sadly my friend’s dog was badly injured and has since had to have a leg amputated. Without the help of the stranger, the dog would have been killed.

Would you know what to do?


I would have no idea.

In fact, through lack of knowledge, my actions could make the fight worse. Additionally, I could get injured myself and therefore would not be able to protect my own dog.

So, I set about compiling a list of exactly what to do if you come across two dogs fighting.

This post is about what to do WHEN A DOG FIGHT IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING.

It might be the difference between your dog living and dying.

It can also prevent a person from getting hurt.

If a fight breaks out between two dogs it is essential that you act quickly without harming yourself.

First, we start with what NOT to do.

  1. Don’t try to grab collars or put yourself between the dogs, you could get seriously injured.
  2. Don’t assume that your own dog won’t bite you, in this heightened state, he will bite anything that gets in his way.
  3. Try not to panic, screaming will not help.

Stop A Dog Fight

How to safely stop a dog fight.

1 Make sure that any children, other dogs, bystanders are moved away to prevent further injuries.

2 Stay as calm as possible, don’t shout and scream at the dogs to stop, it will have the opposite effect.

3 Look for a distraction, something that will startle the dogs.

Look around for a water source. A tap or hose would be best but if not a nearby bottle containing liquid, a flower vase, a kettle (as long as you know the water is cold).

Is there a thick blanket nearby, or a coat, towel or thick item of clothing? If so throw over one of the dogs, it might break their focus and break up the fighting.

You could use something which would make a sudden loud noise or bang to distract the dogs. This could be a car horn, an alarm of some kind, a whistle or bang two metal dog bowls together.

4 Look for something you can easily slot between the dogs whilst keeping your hands out of harm’s way.

This could be a sheet of cardboard or plastic, a rug,  dining chair. rubbish bin lid or a tree branch. The idea is to create a barrier between the dogs, without putting yourself in danger.

Stop A Dog Fight Find A Distraction

5 Physical Intervention is the LAST RESORT (and I advise against this).

However, if intervention is unavoidable, approach the dog from behind, grab the top of his back legs and pull the dog backward and in an arc (to prevent the dog from reaching around and biting you.)

There are always things you can do if you are worried that your dog may be attacked when on a walk.

Here are a few safety tips to consider which may prevent a dog fight.

1 Know Your Dog

If your dog is nervous around other dogs don’t walk him in a crowded park at the busiest time of day.  Keep him on a leash and walk early in the morning before other dog walkers are around.

Pet Corrector Recommendation To Stop Dogs Fighting

Pet Correction Spray

The Pet Corrector is a sharp, hiss of air which distracts the dog from fighting, barking, and unwanted dog behaviours. 

2 Carry A Bottle, Spray or Alarm

This is to spray an aggressive, approaching dog. It will give you a little more time to protect your own dog and may even stop the other dog in his tracks. If you are really worried, carry a can of citronella spray, the smell is highly unpleasant to dogs. A high pitched personal alarm might also scare off an approaching aggressive dog.

3 Watch Body Language

You can see how relaxed or comfortable a dog is in certain situations by keeping an eye on their body language. It is important that the owner can detect early warning signs of aggression and be able to redirect the dog’s attention.

These signs should also be observed when two dogs are playing to ensure that the play fighting doesn’t escalate.

Watching body language should prevent a fight breaking out when strange dogs are introduced for the first time.

Here are the signs to watch out for:

An aggressive or threatened dog will stiffen his body.

Heckles will rise (this is the fur on the back and neck).

They will make a low, rumbling growl or snarl.

The tail will be stiff and positioned high.

Teeth will be visible.

Stop A Dog Fight

4 Use a Vest or Bandana on your Dog

If you have an unpredictable dog, it is a good idea to warn other dog walkers to keep their own dogs away.

My personal experience is that I have a rescue dog who will react if he feels that he is in any sort of danger. Consequently, if a boisterous dog approaches off-leash, my dog immediately feels anxious.

It is not always possible to verbally alert someone to keep their dog away.

Therefore, a bright yellow vest, collar or bandana is a good way to alert other dog owners that your dog is nervous.

This is the yellow dog bandana I use with my own dog. It just ties around his neck in a loose knot. I find it particularly useful when a child begins to approach my dog. The parent can clearly see that this is a nervous dog who needs to be given space.
Stop A Dog Fight Bandana

A range of nervous dog leashes is also available.

5 Early Puppy Socialisation

The ideal scenario would be that everyone socialised their dogs at an early age. Puppies who have lots of interaction with people and other dogs learn how to behave correctly.

Most dog aggression comes from fear, so by properly introducing your puppy to different social situations, that fear never surfaces.

Unfortunately with some rescue dogs, the problem already exists. I know from experience that it is an uphill struggle to rehabilitate a fear aggressive dog.

Teaching A Dog Bite Inhibition is another essential step that puppies need to learn straight away. The mouthing that puppies display is a way of learning to inhibit how much pressure he puts on a bite. The dog needs to develop a ‘soft mouth’ ie to use his mouth gently.

Further Reading

How To Walk A Reactive Dog

How To Prevent Your Dog From Being Stolen

Just remember that a dog fight can come out of nowhere.

I hope these tips are helpful if you need to safely stop a dog fight without getting injured yourself.

21 thoughts on “Stop A Dog Fight, 5 Tips To Safely Break Up A Fight

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  1. I am sorry to say I no longer walk my dogs. I have people with larger dogs come up to my dogs and I have asked them to please stay away my are not comfortable around larger dogs. All they have to do is hear a growl and that’s all it takes. But people let their dogs come up to mine so if I hear a growl I know I have to pick mine up for a while until the other one leaves. A lot of the time the other one is not on a leash.
    So I have not taking my dogs for a walk in years.
    Now they have a nice large fenced-in dog kennel with a doggie door they can run in.
    We live on 5 acres in the country so they can also bark as much as they want!
    Have a good day,

    1. Isn’t it sad though John? Why can’t people just leave us to enjoy a nice walk with our dogs? hope you’re having a good day too

  2. My grandparents raised English Bull Terriers (this was before the Bullies had Roman noses). Occasionally, there would be a fight, they kept a a rag soaked in ammonia under the kitchen sink, they would drop the rag on their noses. This caused them to break away fast. I will sometimes put an ammonia rag in a plastic bag for a just in case. The dogs were never harmed by the rag.

  3. This is one of the best articles I’ve read, thank you for sharing it. I’ve been in dog rescue for years and some of these tips have saved serious injury. It’s so critical to know your dog and understand the body language!

    1. Thank you so much, I really appreciate your kind words. Most of the tips have been from working in rescue , it’s surprising how much we pick up!

  4. Good information! Thank you! I have also used a penny can to diffuse a possible problem. Just take an empty pop can & fill with about 6 pennies, seal it off with duck tape or such and shake it or toss in the direction of the possible fight. The clanking is enough to startle them and distract.

  5. Hi, it can be distressing when dogs fight.I have several dogs myself who rarely fight; and when they do, it seldom leads to anything severe (although I agree that a dog fight is best avoided). A dog fight usually breaks up on its own within 30 seconds to a minute . If it doesn’t, then it may be a cause for concern. In any case, if you do see dogs getting into what is called a ‘dominance tussle’ or maybe even a territorial dispute, it’s best to hose them down. It’s safe, and doesn’t harm the dogs, and breaks the fight up every time. Pepper spray also works, although its really pungent and it is a little extreme.I wouldn’t advise people to randomly pepper spray their dogs (sometimes a cannister of pepper spray in the hands of a kid can be disastrous to a poor dog) but if a dog isn’t letting go of another (they can be like that sometimes) and is endangering its life, maybe taking the fight too far…it would be OK to pepper spray them. I personally prefer the hose method though.

  6. I carry a spray called bite back that the police use it is legal and safe ,it’s a natural strong smell that disorients them and is not harmful at all , it definitely works as we had to use it once and it broke them up right away with no harm done, it’s not cheap but a lot cheaper than vets bills you just never know better to be safe than sorry!

    1. Thank you, that’s really interesting. Like you say if it stops a dog getting hurt, it’s well worth it.

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