How to Safely Break Up a Dog Fight with a Parting Stick

When a person owns a dog, especially any large breed of dog, they should know the proper way to separate their dog in case there is ever an accident or incident with another dog. You may think that it's simple to separate two fighting dogs, but if you're not careful, you can easily enhance the aggression and have it turned towards you.

I've heard people using brooms, 2x4's, rakes, clubs, etc., but when coupled with your own anger or panic and the dog's current adrenaline rush, this can cause injury to a dog, and to you if the dog turns on you for beat it with a broom.

Larger dog breeds seem to have more intense situations and are more likely to continue a more lengthy fight, whereas terriers are spunky and feisty, typically having shorter scraps. But, that doesn't mean that larger breeds can't have short scraps, and smaller terriers long battles.

Just remember that you need to stay calm and collect when breaking up a fight between two dogs.

Breaking up a dog fight can be difficult, but it is easier when you know how to properly proceed. The key that you want to always remember is to stay calm and not to panic.The quicker you intervene the better; however, it is necessary to asses the situation before sticking yourself in the middle of two dogs.

Most dog quarrels can be stopped with a stern "NO" and quickly pulling the dog's apart using their leashes, but if the altercation has escalated into something more, you'll need more than your voice and a lead to stop the dogs from fighting.

Sometimes a water hose or bucket of water will work, but in some cases, you'll need a parting stick, which every responsible owner of large and powerful dogs should have.

Dogs should never go without a collar. Keep in mind that leather, buckle collars or heavy nylon collars with buckle clasps are the better choices.

Remember that two dogs may not start a fight by growling, barking, or posturing. Excitement and external stimulus, such as a squirrel or cat, can be a trigger. It ma also be instigated from the energy of rough-housing, competition over a toy or treat, or another dog's attention on someone of the family. A wagging tail is not an indication that everything is fine; in actuality, a wagging tail is often just a sign of excitement and the faster the tail, the more excited the dog is.

If you have a parting stick, you want to practice with the parting stick before you ever have to use it. Examine your dog's mouth while he's resting; pull the lips back and find the space behind the canines that is toward the rear of the mouth. This is where the parting stick should go; the spot will be easier to see if the dog has a rag or rope in his mouth. You want the stick to go between 1/2 to 1-1/2 inch into the mouth.

If two dogs get into a fight, you should pay more attention to the more aggressive dog. It's best if two people are available, as each person can grab a dog. Approach from the rear and straddle the dog with your legs behind the rib cage and hold on to the dog firmly with your legs. It is very important that you immobilize the dog from the hind. When handling the dogs, take a firm hold on the dog's neck, as close to the head as you can, just behind the ears is best with one hand, so that the other can use the parting stick.

Insert the parting stick into the dog's mouth and apply constant pressure toward the tongue. Do not twist or try to pry the dog's jaw open, as the pressure to bite is pretty firm and twisting or pulling at the parting stick can cause damage to the dog's teeth and/or mouth. Only use just enough pressure as needed.

You have to be quick, as the dog will react if he loses hold and will open his mouth to get a better hold onto the other dog. When the dog starts to lose his grip, you want to quickly snatch the dog away, using the collar that should be around his neck, and walk the dog away. At this point, a stern 'NO' may work, but you want to keep a good hold on the collar, as the 'NO' may not be enough.

Both people need to communicate throughout the dog fight, and synchronize their actions. If one dog gets out of its hold and the other dog is still being held, you want to control the loose dog by the head, holding the scruff of the neck.

If you are alone throughout the fight, you'll want to try to move the two dogs to something solid, such as a pole, tree, or fence and try to secure one of the dogs on leash, pulling away the other dog as best as you can. Then proceed to separate the dog as directed above, being calm, patient, and safe throughout the entire process.

Lead the separated dog somewhere out of sight of the dog who is secured, and then tend to the other dog.

Summarized from the "Parting- The Safe Way" by Renee Greenwood from the American Pit Bull Terrier Gazette; Volume 33, Issue 1; Fall 2008

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Comments 18 comments

Julie 4 years ago

I don't believe in hitting dogs with objects. If you do you shouldn't have any. How would you like it if every time you got a little upset or into a fight with someone I hit you in the head with a stick. You woluldnt like it. Maybe someone should try doing that to you. Then well talk Get off google your useless


nick 4 years ago

very helpful, i wish i had a parting stick today, stafy dog would not let go...uk


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

I actually said typically, which does not mean all the time all small dogs give up early and quick. Jack Russels, are terriers and they are pretty hardheaded which goes to show with most terriers, but I was being general not specific, so it's not necessarily wrong.

Thanks though.


Headstrong Farm profile image

Headstrong Farm 7 years ago from Rhode Island

I finally read this hub and I wish I would have sooner... Your comments about smaller breeds are a little off, though. We have four Jack Russell terriers and they just won't give up once the fight starts, and they pick sides and jump right in when there's a fight. This is fantastic information for us right now as we are going through one dog coming off or her heat and another one starting and though they got along excellently before (mother and daughter), they recently got into it resulting in a vet visit for the mom. For their size, they are very strong and fast. This info will serve us well in the future. Thank you!


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Helena, it is a good thing. Some does need to take a little responsibility

adam, with the right owner and experience these dogs are wonderful- some of the best and better than most. There are liabilities with ALL dogs. One dog bite doesn't mean they're all potentially bad.


adamroll13 profile image

adamroll13 7 years ago from CAMDEN-WYOMING, DE

Great Hub, but it makes me wonder if these breeds are not too much for most people to handle. I've been bit by a pitbull before so I admit I am totally biased, but I wonder if the security provided by the pitbull is not undone by their possible liabilities. Just a thought.


helenathegreat profile image

helenathegreat 7 years ago from Manhattan

Yeah, they're just normal people who are there with their dogs. Since they're there every day or so, they feel it's their responsibility to maintain order, and it's a good thing! With community-maintained things like a public dog park, sometimes someone has to take responsibility.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

That's cool. They're just regular people with their dogs? I have a buddy who visits his dog park regularly, but I'm not sure how well that goes for him. Sometimes it does take a few people to control the rest or at least make sure they do what they're supposed.


helenathegreat profile image

helenathegreat 7 years ago from Manhattan

At the dog park we frequent, there is a cast of "regulars" that kind of keeps an eye on everyone else. I'm not one of them, but if someone neglects to pick up after their dog or brings in a toy, they'll say something to the person. If it weren't for them, our dog park would be like the Wild West.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Yea, there are only a few owners who actually know what they're doing when they go to a dog park. Most, like you said, just mind their own business until it's too late and their dog is in the middle of an incident with another dog or person. I don't have a dog park in my area, but I believe there is one in the works. I'm just not sure how it will go.


helenathegreat profile image

helenathegreat 7 years ago from Manhattan

It's true. But it's one of the only ways to let dogs off the leash in NYC. Personally, I think I have enough experience with canine behavior that we're pretty safe there; I can always tell when there's a problem dog, and if there is we just leave. It's still risky, though, and I have no idea how people can bring their dogs there and sit chatting on their cell phones or reading a book... I'm always 100% focused on what's going on.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Yea, dog parks are not always the best place to take your dog.


helenathegreat profile image

helenathegreat 7 years ago from Manhattan

So many people own dogs, and yet almost no one knows anything about dog behavior or how to react to it. Always nice to read your hubs, Whitney. I have seen quite a few fights at the dog park, and they somehow always get broken up, but several times humans have gotten bitten thanks to diverted aggression. I'm sure a parting stick would've come in handy.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Gypsy, it's a great tool to have on hand for any pit mix or powerful dog breed. Generally, these instructions are best for bully breeds, but will vary for other breeds.

ethel, the calmer you are the better bc if you get all stirred up with them and yell, scream, and jump around, it will further excite the dogs to continue.

jim, it's not for all dogs, but it's a great tool for bully breeds- no matter the temperament. You never know when another dog will start the fight and not want to end it.


jim10 profile image

jim10 7 years ago from ma

This is great information to know. I don't think I will need it for my dog. She is extremely friendly and cowers down for anything even half her size unless she knows them. I never even heard of a parting stick before.


kblover profile image

kblover 7 years ago from USA

The couple of altercations Wally's gotten into - it would have been useful to have known about this tool. Thanks for sharing the insight!


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

My two dogs get on famously but recently had a fight. Such things are always noisy and scary. You are right about staying calm though. You must also be assertive. If the dog thinks you are scared you have had it.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 7 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

Never heard of this before but I will make sure my son knows about it as he has a Pit bull cross (who is a very mild dog). You never know what will happen when walking your dog in a public place. Thanks for the hub.

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