Monday, May 30, 2016

Breaking Up a Dog Fight

If you own a dog, there is a good chance you will at some point have to break up a dog fight. Especially, if you often take your furry friend to the dog park. Dog fights can be scary and can result in injury to you or your dog if you are not mentally prepared to deal with one. The worst thing you can do is A) Scream at the top of your lungs. This only escalates the situation. B) Grab a dog's head and/ or neck area. This will result in you getting bit. and C) Keep a hold of the leash, if your dog has one on. This will result in entanglement and possible injury to one of the parties involved. If your dog has a leash on and is in a fight, the best thing you can do is immediately drop the leash. So, what should you do if you happen to find yourself in the middle of a dog fight? First and foremost, keep your cool. Next, here are some helpful tips:

When it comes to dog fights, the best thing to do is recognize the situation before it arises by knowing how dogs communicate. Usually, there is one dog that is the aggressor and the other dog is merely on the defense. Once you recognize which dog is initiating the fight, use the above techniques to stop that dog. Once that dog is stopped, the other dog that is just protecting itself, will most likely stop. Other methods of stopping a dog fight are to spray the dogs with water or bang an object that will make a loud noise. But, these tips are only really useful if you are at home and have access to such things that will spray water or will make a loud noise. Once you have broken up the fight, check to see if the dogs want to keep fighting or have calmed down. Dogs that want to keep fighting, may have underlying behavioral problems.

A dog owner can usually notice aggression problems within their dog when their dog reaches puberty: 6-9 months old, when the become socially mature: 18-36 months old or if they are not spayed or neutered. Even low levels of aggression should be taken seriously. If not successfully dealt with, low levels can eventually escalate into an out of control problem. Here are some signs that your dog will exhibit when they are aggressive:
  • Growling
  • Lip biting
  • Snapping
  • Lunging
A dog that is often the target of another dog will show these signs of fear:
  •  Crouching
  • Tucking of the tail between the legs
  • Licking the lips 
  • Backing away
It is important for a dog owner to know the difference between play posture and true aggression. In order to deal with aggressive behavior, the owner must start training right away by:
  • Sidetracking the bad behavior with a good behavior
  • Give verbal cues followed by action. Example: If your puppy bites your hand, immediately say "Ouch!" and stop playing.
  • Give your dog a time out right when they exhibit aggressive behavior.
  • Don't engage in aggressive roughhousing. Some puppies have a low arousal threshold. Playful roughhousing can quickly result in aggressive fighting with these types of puppies.
For more information, please see these links (or look for your own!):

How to Safely Break Up a Dog Fight, The Whole Dog Journal:

Yes, There is A Smart Way To Break Up a Dog Fight, The Dodo: 

How to Safely Break Up a Dog Fight, The Dogington Post:

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