Updated: Apr 25
Socializing your dog(s) is necessary but at the same time it can be a risk. Many times we allow our dogs to get that healthy rough housing in but are unsure of how to react when the fun and games causes someone to get hurt. Our first instinct is to yell and crowd the dogs when things get out of control. There are times we may even think to grab the dog by the scruff of their neck or pick them up from the situation. When a dog fight breaks out it is important to remember the following things:
You must stay calm - Dog fights do not usually last very long. Which makes reacting to this with a clear head important. If you begin to yell the dogs will feed off of your energy and continue to fight.
Make some noise - Attempt to bang two metal bowels together at a distance. Have your car alarm go off. Try to get your dogs attention to focus on something else, and when you get that opening safely separate them.
Use an object - Use an object besides yourself to separate the dog fight. I.e. a chair, a piece of cardboard. a broom, etc.
If you need to intervene resist the urge to grab your dog by the scruff of his neck or pick them up - Dogs are in full blown defensive mode when they are fighting with another dog. With that in mind, you do not want to pick your dog up and be the focus of attack. Similarly, you do not want to grab your dog by the neck because it is likely they will snap back and bite you. Instead you want to do the "wheelbarrow" technique. This method ideally involves both dog owners (two people) to get to their dogs in a calm matter. Owners will want to grab their dogs back legs and pull up, forcing them stand on their front legs. The reason this method works so well is because you are throwing off your dogs sense of gravity when you force them to stand on their front legs. Once the dogs disengage from fighting, it is important to separate them and allow them time to calm down while you assess their injury(s).
Remember to exchange phone numbers with the other owner and take photos of any injuries - It is important to get the other dog owners information when there is a dog fight. That way if infection or surgery surfaces - you are able to plan accordingly.
In order to prevent dog fights it is important to train your dog commands like "come" or "leave it". "Come" will allow you to call your dog when you notice that they are not fond of another dog or if they decide to get involved into an already existing dog fight. "Leave it" will come in handy if your dog is snapped at or snaps at another dog, stopping any further antagonizing behaviors. It is also important for you to be able to read your dogs behavior towards other dogs, and act accordingly. Body language, vocalizations, and aggressive or possessive patterns are things to note about your dog.
If you notice any aggressive or possessive behaviors from your dog it is important to train that out of them rather than isolate them from socialization. Many dogs that have been isolated can no longer read proper social queues and are more likely to get in dog fights.