Tips to help you handle a dog fight!

how to handle a dog fight


Dog fight!

Did that just send a shiver down your spine? They’re two of the most dreaded words for a dog owner. Every dog owner fears them and try their best to avoid them, but sometimes they still happen. Maybe you’ve been approached by an off-leash dog in your neighborhood, or you meet an unfriendly pooch at the dog park. Or maybe even your own two dogs who are normally BFF’s have a little lover’s quarrel.

Dog fights happen and we have some tips to help deal with them.


First things first: do not put yourself, your hands or any body part in the middle of a dog fight.

Fighting dogs are so out of their brains and even Fido, who you swear would never bite a human, may accidently bite you. Hands out!


Make a loud noise and stop the instant dogs disengage.

Most dog fights can be broken up with a sudden diversion. This mean you need to scare the bejessus out of them. Get them to focus on the commotion you just made and you can use the opportunity to secure the dogs. Try for a couple seconds and if this doesn’t work, move on.

Good items to create a diversion include:

  • Air horn
  • Whistle
  • Keys thrown at a hard surface
  • Steel dishes banged together
  • Banging a wall, door or any other hard surface
  • Car horn


If that didn’t work, it’s time to use water.

Water from a hose is best (spray with a purpose – aim the hose directly at a dog’s mouth or nose. Spraying them on the butt or side isn’t really going to do much) Dumping a bowl of water on their faces is also a good option. If you have citronella or pepper spray handy, these are also good choices (try to avoid their eyes with these options)

Another option is throwing a blanket or jacket over the dogs to disorientate them. You just need the dogs to be startled long enough to disengage, so you can separate and secure them.


Still not working?

Usually by this time, one of the above tactics has worked. If not, it is time for the most experienced dog handler(s) to get involved.

  1. Grasp the dogs back legs near the groin and pull them straight up, much like a wheelbarrow. Be aware that there is a chance of a redirected bite.
  2. Pull both dogs simultaneously quickly out and up, raising the rear quarters off the ground.
  3. Once the dogs are separated, secure both dogs and assess for damage.
  4. If a dog has latched onto another dog and not responded to the loud noise, being sprayed or being pulled apart, you will need to pry its mouth open. Your best option is a stick of some sort. Force the stick across the back of the dog’s mouth and pry it open.
  5. Another option is straddling the latched dog and immobilizing its head to avoid further injury. At some point, the dog will release and you will then have immediate control of the head to move it.
  6. Are you alone and dealing with a dog fight? Try noise first and then spray. If either doesn’t work, you’re going to need to pull the most intense fighter off. If you’re not sure who the most intense fighter is, you need to pull the dog who is less likely to be controlled by your voice off. If one of your dogs is involved, this usually means pulling the stranger dog off.
  7. We all hope we never have to deal with a dog fight, but the best thing you can do when dealing with one is staying calm. Dogs feed off people’s energy and the more excited you are, the most excited the dogs will get.


The aftermath

If you’ve been involved in a dog fight that is outside your home (re: only one of the dogs involved was yours) you may consider contacting Calgary Animal Services. If an owner is present, ensure you get their name and contact information to follow up with in case of large vet bills.