Why Do Dogs Fight and How to Break It

Posted by Eddie Salama on

Have you ever witnessed a dog fight? It's a bit scary, right? Most dog fights happen suddenly and it's very stressful for dog parents to see their buddies enter into a fight. When we have this kind of situations, we usually are unaware on what to do.

The good news is, we have ways on breaking up dog fights. Yes, there is! Vet West provides plan A and plan B on stopping a dog fight.


Plan A: Use a Barrier

Before you attempt to physically separate two fighting dogs, you can try these methods:

  • Try spraying the dogs with a hose or dumping a bowl of water on their heads. Pour the contents of a cold drink, carbonated or fizzy drink is highly recommended, over the dogs if that’s all you have.
  • Try throwing a large blanket, towel, a tarp or a jacket over both dogs. Some dogs will stop fighting when they can't see each other anymore.
  • Try putting something between the fighting dogs. Such as a garbage can, a large piece of wood or cardboard, or a folded lawn chair.


dog fight


Plan B: Physically Separate the Dogs

If other methods don’t work or aren’t possible, you will have to physically separate the dogs. 

If you’re wearing pants and boots or shoes, use your lower body instead of your hands to break up the fight. If they’re covered, your legs and your feet are much more protected than your hands, and your legs are the strongest part of your body. 

It is not necessary to kick or try to hurt the dogs; the goal is to separate them.

Be aware you are at potential risk of injury yourself. This method is not advised for large dogs, such as German shepherds, since it is possible to receive collateral damage from a nasty bite.

If you feel that it’s necessary to grab the dogs, use this method:

  • You and a helper or the other dog’s owner should approach the dogs together. Try to separate them at the same time.
  • Take hold of your dog’s back legs at the very top, just under the hips, right where the legs connect to the body. Avoid grabbing the lower legs. If you grab a dog’s legs at the knees, the ankles or the paws, you can cause serious injury.
  • Like you’d lift a wheelbarrow, lift your dog’s back end so that the back legs are lifted off the ground. Then move backwards, away from the other dog. As soon as you’re a few steps away, do a 180-degree turn, spinning your dog around so they are facing the opposite direction and can no longer see the other dog.

Once the dogs have been separated, keep them out of each other's sight. They may start to fight again when they see each other. Put your dog in the car or behind a closed door as soon as possible. Use a belt or a tie as a temporary leash if the dog does not have one. If you are alone, tie one dog to an immovable object and remove the other dog to another location.


dog fight


The plans mentioned above are efficient strategies on stopping a dog fight. However, one doesn’t need to stop a dog fight if there is none on the first place. As dog parents, we need to understand why dog fights exists. According to Tex Vet Pets, there are various causes of dog fights.

  • Multiple dogs of the same sex that live in the same house (all female or all male) may be at a higher risk of fighting. This is due to a constant desire to maintain a hierarchy. In the wild, there is a separate hierarchy structure for males and females within a pack, so a male and a female together in the same home are potentially more likely to maintain harmony as they are both maintaining their own separate “top dog” statuses. The risk for fights is not lower between related dogs as compared to dogs that are not related; family members may fight each other once the younger pups have reached adolescence. The risk for fighting is increased in dogs that are not spayed and neutered.
  • Food and toys are common triggers for dog fights. We all want what we don’t have, dogs included. Many dogs are inherently possessive and aggressive of their possessions, like chew bones, food and squeaky toys. Never feed two dogs next to each other. As one dog finishes his food, he may decide to eat the other’s food or may even protect the bowl of food without eating. It is much safer to feed multiple dogs on opposite sides of the room or even in different rooms. If your dog is possessive about food, it can be beneficial to not leave food bowls on the ground. When the meal is finished, immediately take up the bowls, wash and store them out of the dogs reach until the next meal.
  • Bones and chew toys are other highly desired items. Most dogs will hoard and become extremely possessive of bones and chew toys. It can even be dangerous for people to take bones from some dogs. If you own a dog that displays possessive behavior, all bones and chew toys should be removed from the home. If you ever need to remove a bone or toy from a dog’s possession, never use your hand. Attempt to distract the dog with another toy, treat or food item thrown in the other direction. You can also try to change the mindset of a dog by holding up a leash and saying, “Let’s go for a walk/outside/to the car” or whatever excites the dog. Then take the dog to another room or restrain on a leash when picking up the toy.
  • Some environments are more likely to trigger fights, such as dog parks, family vacations or even boarding in close quarters. At a dog park, there are many dogs that are strangers to each other. While in this environment, they are running, chasing and excited. It is easy for a group of dogs to start running together, forming a “pack mentality” that can promote aggression. Dogs at the dog park do not have a hierarchy established, and if multiple dogs are running for the same Frisbee or ball, the excitement can easily get out of hand. Additionally, some dogs are protective of their owners, and a dog park can be a threatening place, making one feel that he or she must keep everyone away from “his” or “her” owner. If your dog park tends to be crowded, consider going at off-hours or other non-crowded times.
  • Family vacations mean a lot of people and potentially multiple dogs that are unfamiliar with each other in the same house. This is probably the leading cause of dog-fight injuries during holidays. When many new people and dogs come into a dog’s house, the dog that normally resides in the home can become threatened and possessive, even if he or she is normally a very docile dog. New dogs can mean new threats to “his” or “her” toys and food. Likewise, the visitor dog may try to dominate their new surroundings.
  • Just as family vacations can be stressful for people, they can create a stressful environment for dogs, which is something dog owners should be aware of. When visiting, always remember that your pet may need some downtime in his or her own room or kennel. Be mindful of what your pet considers to be “theirs,” and remove these items before company arrives. Feed unfamiliar dogs separately.


dog fight


Being part of a dog fight doesn't necessarily mean that your dog is a bad dog. There are just those times where dogs are not on a good mood. If a dog fight happens, always remember not to panic. It's definitely the last thing you would want to feel. Stay calm, anyway you already have knowledge on dog fights.

It's also best to personally know your dog. Knowing him will help you understand his actions. Hence, spend time with your dog. It's the best action for dog fight prevention.



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