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How to Break up a Dog Fight

Updated on November 3, 2011

In order to understand the risks of breaking up two or more dogs fighting, owners must learn more about the risks of dealing with redirected attention. What is exactly redirected attention? And how does it happen?

Imagine this common scenario that takes place quite often in households with multiple dogs. A dog is passing by a fence, on the other side of the fence a dog starts ferociously barking at this dog. Soon another dog joins in and they are both madly barking at this dog on the other side of the fence. As the aggression gets pent up, in a matter of seconds, both dogs that were previously barking will be fighting aggressively against each other. Why is that?

Basically, one or both dogs were in what Cesar Milan likes to call the ''red zone''. Basically they were really focused on this stranger dog passing by. They were so over charged by the presence of this dog that frustrated, they took their anger and frustration against each other.

Something similar may take place when owners with good intent try to break up a fight. The dogs suddenly interrupted, may attack anything that gets in between them. This is not intentional, it is almost an automated response from being in a fight and flight situation, without realizing they are actually attacking their master!

So what to do to break up a dog fight correctly without running the risk of getting injured? There are various methods to resort to.

-Loud Noise

Yelling often does not help, as the dogs may think you are simply joining in the fight or are too concentrated on fighting to even hear you. Banging two pot lids together or banging on a garbage can may be more effective.

-Water hose

If you have a water hose handy, open it and spray it in the direction of the dogs. This should startle them and extinguish their anger. However, with strong, persistent, red zone dogs this may not be enough. A fire extinguisher may be in this case, much more effective.


If a blanket is available toss it over the fighting dogs. Confused and disoriented, dogs may finally break off the fight.

-Pepper Spray

In case of serious fights a pepper spray can may be a good choice if there are no other ways to split out the fight.

-Rear leg method

If you are like most people, you will not have a blanket nor a water hose or pepper can spray available right away. You can try instead to grab the back legs of one of the fighting dogs and have a helper grab onto the rear legs of the other fighting dog. Unbalanced, both dogs should let go and should be dragged away from the scene into a safe place far out of reach of each other. Warning: While this method may be effective, it is important to watch for dogs turning around and attempting to bite in defense.

Sometimes, if you really do not feel you have what it takes to separate two dogs fighting or if you fear getting bit, it is best to not intervene rather than risking. Dog fights can be very serious issues and the many serious dog bites derived from human intervention are a testimony to that.

Disclaimer: the above tips may be helpful but they cannot be guaranteed to work. If your dogs get into a fight it is your responsibility to make decisions and take resonsability for your actions. In some cases, be cautioned that no matter what, dogs can still turn to their owners or get back to the other dog. Use extreme caution.

Helpful Devices

Halt! Dog Repellent, 1.5 Oz 118464
Halt! Dog Repellent, 1.5 Oz 118464

Who knows more about dog attacks that the mailman? Letter carriers have had to deal with aggresive dogs since Claudius Polonius was delivering rolls of parchment to citizens of the Roman Empire. So what do the experts use to repel dog attacks? Well, the U.S. Postal Service has been using Halt! Since 1966. You might say they have been conducting field tests for over thirty years. Halt! Products use Capsaicin, a naturally occurring extract of peppers, which, when sprayed in a dog's face, causes only temporary, but extreme discomfort for the dog.Think of it as attitude re-adjustment. Halt! Stops him in his tracks, giving you time to move out of danger. Halt!'s pressurized spray is accurate up to 10 feet.

Ultrasonic Dog Repeller
Ultrasonic Dog Repeller

Protect yourself from dangerous dogs while cycling, walking, or jogging with the Ultrasonic Dog Repeller. It produces a high frequency sound that the human ear can not detect, yet it is able to deter vicious dogs without harming them. It's even safe enough to use for training dogs. Features a belt clip and a low battery indicator. Requires one 9 volt battery (not included).



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    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 5 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Great suggestions here. May come in handy in an adverse situation.

    • Mrs. J. B. profile image

      Mrs. J. B. 6 years ago from Southern California

      Great tips.

    • Seen On TV profile image

      Seen On TV 7 years ago

      Loved the hub. The image at the top of the dog is great, but scary. Great info.

    • Bediveare profile image

      Bediveare 7 years ago from Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom

      Dear Alexadry,

      Thank you for your story about advice on breaking up dog fights.

      I have (5) show dogs cocker spaniels (3 boys and 2 girls)

      I know all about dog fights and have got injured myself trying to

      stop one and as you say they are solely focused on the fight and seem to go totally deaf to what ever else is going on around them.

      It all seems to be when the girls are in season and around that time I have to separate the boys so I have no problems.

      I also live at the back of a conservation area where a lot of dogs are taken past the house walking of which they smell maybe other dogs in season.

      Generally as a family they all get on very well, luckily I don't have a constant problem it is only occassionally.

      I like your pepper spray method, I have never tried this, as long as this does not hurt the dogs in anyway.

      Thankyou for your information I shall definitely try this pepper spray method when next I have this problem.



    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 8 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Useful knowledge

    • brad4l profile image

      brad4l 8 years ago from USA

      These are some great tips.

      Personally, and I fully realize this isn't a good way of breaking up dog fights, I  typically loudly insert myself in between the dogs, well my leg anyway, and administer some light kicks to the chest of  each dog. I feel comfortable doing this because I usually know both of the dogs pretty well and usually they are not really biting each other anyway.

      My major concern is usually the other dog will do, because I know my dog will listen and stop fighting, but I don't really know what the other dog will do.

      Once I have their attention, I can usually grab a hold of the other dog and pull them off of my dog.

    • melshomecorner profile image

      Melinda Winner 8 years ago from Mississippi

      you never know when this will come in handy , I have broke up quite a few , just one the other day. Thanks great Hub !

      Melinda Winner