How to Break Up a Dog Fight

August 4, 2009

By Linda Cole

If you have multiple dogs, sooner or later you will have to step in to break up a dog fight. I have two Terrier/mix sisters who are the best of buddies. However, sometimes, out of the blue, one will be on the other in a flash. A fight has to be broken up quickly to avoid injury to them. The challenge is breaking up a dog fight without getting bit yourself.

Obviously, the best solution is to avoid a fight to begin with, but dogs are like people. One dog just rubs the other one the wrong way for reasons only they know. It can be a threatening glance or body bump one finds intimidating or a dog attempting to establish his/her rank in the pack. Perhaps it’s a jealous or possessive reaction to a toy, food or your attention to another member in your pack. It could even be a simple lack of exercise or stimulation. A dog’s mind is just as difficult to read as your kids sometimes.

Remember, dogs have an instinctive sense of social order in the pack. If one feels no one is in charge, he or she will take that as a sign of weakness and attempt to take control of the pack. Whatever the reason, you have to break up a dog fight quickly. Unlike the alpha male’s corrective posturing of making a pack member submit to his command, a full fledged fight is meant to cause pain and injury and can be deadly.

Breaking up a dog fight is a dangerous situation for everyone. Never allow children to get into the middle of a dog fight. They may be seriously injured by the same dogs who snuggle up with them at night. Fighting dogs hear, see, smell and feel nothing except the dog in their face. At this point, they are no longer your pet. In their minds, they are in a fight to the death. Make no mistake about that. Do not attempt to break up a dog fight by pulling on their collar, and forget about calling their names.

Thinking about how you will handle the situation is your best course of action. You need to remain as calm as you can and having thought about what to do will help maintain your composure if and when a fight breaks out. Your immediate purpose in breaking up a dog fight is to get them to release their hold on each other and get them separated. Not an easy task. It’s like trying to pull apart two vise grips locked together.

There is no silver bullet in breaking up a dog fight. That’s why you need a plan. If the fight happens outside, a garden hose can help dampen their spirits enough to get them apart. Spray directly into the eyes and muzzle/nose area. Once they have released each other, get between them using the hose as a barrier. Don’t stop spraying until both have backed off and you have secured at least one away from the scene. If a hose is not available, find something large you can use to separate the dogs, such as a trash can lid or folding chair. The idea is to put a barrier between them. This works better with two people; it’s much harder if you are alone.

Have a pair of sturdy chairs you can place over the dogs, laundry baskets you can use to trap them in, a large piece of plywood to put between them, or large blankets you can throw over their heads. Anything you can find, besides your legs and arms, to get in between the fighters to block them. These suggestions may sound harsh, but when it comes to breaking up a dog fight, they will cause far less damage than two out of control dogs can inflict on each other if the fight is not broken up quickly.

Smaller dogs can be grabbed and pulled up out of the reach of the other one. However, if they have a death grip on each other, you still have to get them apart. A squirt bottled sprayed directly into their eyes and nose should help break their grip on each other.

Never try to break up a dog fight by hitting dogs with a stick, kicking them or yelling. This will only raise their level of excitement. Your job as pack leader is to know each individual dog. Pay attention to body language, growls or snaps which can be early signs a fight is brewing. Step in with a stern no. Get their attention immediately to stop any impending aggression. Avoiding a dog fight is much easier and safer than trying to break one up.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

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  1. Erik says:

    I never see my technique shared on these type of articles so I thought I would share.

    I have a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and since he had his first fight with another Stafford I knew I had to figure out how to stop these fights in the future.

    I read many guides and many methods online and tried them all and none of them worked for my dog.

    One day I took him to the park and 2 other Staffords came running straight for him and just attacked him straight away, I managed to break up this fight between 3 Staffords within 20 seconds and only got a small bite on my hand which I didnt even notice till hours later.

    Calmness is the key, when my dog gets in a fight I pin the dogs down on the floor to keep them as still as I can and stop them from moving too much…. after a few seconds (it has always been less than 1 min) the dogs seem to start thinking again (their eyes change, they not longer locked on) and let go and the fight is over.

    I put my hands near their backs/shoulder to try keep them still as putting my hands near their heads will probably result in me being bitten.

    Now, as I said, I’ve tried many methods and nothing has ever stopped the fight fast enough for my liking… while my technique might sound dangerous as you are getting down on the floor with the dogs, I have only received a small bite and that was stopping a fight between 3 Staffords, which I stopped on my own.

    He had a fight yesterday, he started this one but the same technique worked again… I kept both dogs as still as possible and my Staffy let go after around 40 seconds and the other dog had no damage even though he had locked his jaws on her neck.

    The owner of the other dog was trying to pull her dog away from mine while mine had locked jaws on her… I made sure she knows that is the worse thing she can do because that will cause the skin to be torn and cause a lot of damage to her dog.

    This is the only thing that works for me… spraying water does not work, loud noises dont work, putting things between the dogs doesnt work and another guide recommends shoving your finger up their ass…. sadly, this doesnt work either and you end up with a stinky finger.

    Hope this works for someone that has tried everything else without any luck… it might be riskier but imo is worth it, in my case due to my dog’s breed I do not think I have another choice because he would probably fight to the death if I let the fight carry on…. and remember to stay calm and just focus on keeping them from moving too much as when they start doing that is when the damage and their anger increases… if you can stop them from reaching these next stages of anger in less than 60 seconds the fight will stop.

    Good luck.

  2. Peggy says:

    My dogs love water, I use a fly swatter. It sounds crazy but it works. I trained them with it. My dogs are 6 years and the other is 8 months. Their not afraid of the fly swatter, we play with it. But if I pick it up and say stop or no. If they don’t they know there going to get it. They mind better then children. They are my baby girls.

  3. Rachel says:

    There’s no easy way out of a dog fight. I was walking two of my dogs (6 month jack Russell and 3 years boxer) last night alone when two staffies came running down the street towards us, no collars on and attacked mine. I quickly grabbed the jack up as she’s only tiny but the two had a grip on my boxer, one on her neck and one on her back leg. I’ve broken up fights before but non like this! My jack russell was under my arm screaming her little head off and I was kicking at the one one her neck to try and get it off- until it pulled her collar off! Thankfully my jacks screaming called some locals out who dragged the dogs off, turns out they where the owners of the runaway pair. They apologied and took their dogs away and I called a friend to walk with them home. The boxers got some serious injuries- won’t walk on one of her legs and her neck and the other three where all bleeding, and the jack Russell had a big puncture wound on her rump. We’re going to rush up to the vets in the morning, hopefully they’ll recover.. Anyone got any advice on what could have been done? Considering I am a small female, prying the dogs off myself just wasn’t an option.. Thank god for my jacks big gob!

  4. anonymous says:

    My dogs got into a fight…I was alone…I didn’t know what to do…It looked like they were going to kill each other!!! I panicked and grabbed a stick and whacked one in the head:'( she was stunned by the blowbut i dont know if she is hurt! I’m so scared.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I’ve never hit my dogs. But I’ve had to break up fights between my male German Sheppard and English Mastiff… Our English Mastiff bitch was in heat, and the Sheppard attacked the Mastiff. I had nothing available except my body. I stepped in the middle and took the bites and grabbed the Sheppard by the neck and dragged him away. The two females saw me. Since that day, when any of them start growling, I just raise my hand like i did that day and step right towards them… and they back down. It’s not the BEST option, but I earned my Alpha status with blood just like a real Alpha in the wild. Remember. YOU are the Alpha. If you are not willing to bleed for your pack, you don’t deserve to be Aplha.

  6. Russ Makar says:

    ammonia in a small spray bottle,spray them right in the nose and eyes, works like a charm. whenever i walk my dog i take it with, only had to use it once and it saved my dogs life, so needless to say I swear by it.

    1. Samantha says:

      Thank you Russ. Will try. I’m brain damaged and although on a farm, I walk my dogs down the paddock each day. VERY occasionally, a fight breaks out and ALL want to join in (I have 6 rescues). Hard for me to break up.

    2. PLEASE…I BEG OF EVERYONE, DO NOT USE THIS ABSURD ADVICE!!!! We had a lady who used ammonia to break up a dog fight and it burned one of the dogs’ corneas! I found this, trying to figure out where she got such horrible info. There are other more effective and humane ways!

  7. k.. says:

    Anonymous, Im confused…your dog was in a “boarding” facility when the bite happened, yet the person that works there wants you to put her injury on your homeowners..i may not know anything about insurance, but why would something that didnt happen in your home be on your homeowners…This women first and foremost is a dog handler, and she of all people should know NOT to get in the middle of a dog fight, her being bitten was her own fault, she chose to break it up, and she was bitten…bites are always at the fault of a person, even if a dog attacks, it may be the owners fault at that point…the way i see it is she chose to make a snap decision, and it came back on her, and if she was also given instructions to not have your dog around another dog, she again violated an agreement and again was at fault for what happened. Weather homeowners pays out or not…its her fault she was bitten.

  8. Anonymous says:

    This seems to be happening to us quite often now. I have a pit/lab mix who is male and very aggressive to other dogs and a 3 year old shepherd mix. They get along very well most I the time but when it comes to toys or bones my pitbull attacks my other dog, viciously. Sometimes late at night we’ll take them out to this field by my house and let them play. Tonight we took a frisbee with us and they got in a fight. It’s been so bad lately that my pit seems like he’s going to kill my other dog. It got so bad so fast and my boyfriend tried to separate them and I panicked and kicked my dog a few times( which obviously is terrible and I didn’t want to do it but it was a reaction) but it didn’t help and now I’m scared that he’ll remember and hate me for it. Do they realize what else is happening? Also my other dog, who usually doesn’t fight back wouldn’t let go either this time and I don’t know what to do, in so scared one day one of them will end up dead. We decided they can’t have toys anymore.

  9. I have a red heeler x am staf and a bull terrier x staffy both males and both 6 months old. I got my red heeler 2 wks before the bully he is a very excitable dog and cannot take both for A walk together as my bully reacts to his excitability and wants to fight and the whole walk is a mess with both of them then always wanting to bicker. They also fight a lot at home over food and toys and around me. Until reading your posts I have previously yelled and got angry which usually doesn’t seperate them. Sometimes I can make a loud noise and they will seperate then sit and lick each other and are best buddies again. I have started to recognize when my heeler isn’t happy as his tail goes up and he stands rigid also his hackles come up. I say no and he will walk off. I am getting them both neutered on Monday and hope thus will reduce the fights. My partner also works away for 4 wks at a time and is only hone for 1 so I don’t have anyone to help me seperate them and tell my 5 yr old to stay away. I will try the water and vinegar and let u know how I go. These posts gave been very helpful.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Let me clarify a little bit. My homeowners insurance has assured me this person is not out to sue the pants off me. All this person wants is what is entitled to he/she. My insurance company will pay out (when the investigation is over) from my liability coverage. After this matter is resolved, then they will drop my policy. This has been going on for about a year now, do these dog bite claims really take this long to rectify?

  11. Anonymous says:

    I am currently dealing with a situation hopefully someone could give me some advice for. I have a 5 year old pit mix who got into a fight with a large malamute. I don’t know exactly what transpired because it happened at a boarding facility, but the owner/operator stepped in to break up the fight and unfortunately was bitten by my dog. This person is seeking compensation from my homeowners insurance, but my agency told me that they don’t insure those with pits. This was not the first time my dog was cared for at this facility, and perviously my wife instructed the owner how to care for our dog. My wife explicitly instructed her (written instructions) to keep our dog separated from any large males. Has anyone out there had experience with this type of situation? Any advice is welcome. I have been informed that my insurance company will be dropping me in a couple months. The claim is still under investigation. What do you fellow pit owners do for homeowners insurance?

  12. Anonymous says:

    There is also a product called Halt that the mailmen carry. I got it at my local bike shop because often cyclists encounter dogs. It shoots a stream of pepper spray 10 feet so it could be used on a stray dog that was about to attack your dog

  13. k.. says:

    Thanks Linda…will be getting some pepper spray then…wanted some advice first, there are tons of loose dogs in my area, as well as people that just have no common sense. It all makes sense.

  14. Linda says:

    Hi K.,

    I would not recommend a stun gun. For one thing, it’s too easy to stun the wrong dog and it may not even phase the dog you stun. It’s more apt to excite the dog and make things worse. The pepper spray will work, but you have to spray it directly into the dog’s nose and eyes for it to be effective and you may have to do it a couple of times.

    The problem with fighting dogs is, in the heat of battle, they don’t feel pain. Pepper spray will work better than vinegar and water.

    Meeting a dog when you’re out with your dog can be hard. If you have a good stout stick, it will usually help you fend off another dog, but it is harder when you are also trying to control your dog.

    Pepper spray can help to stop a dog from attacking because he’s not in the fighting mode yet and the spray is more effective before a fight starts. The best thing you can do if another dog attacks your dog while walking is to stay as calm as you can and don’t yell at either dog because that will only excite them more.

    Check out this article on what to do if another dog attacks. There’s some other ideas there.


  15. k.. says:

    Wow, you could have totally lost a finger. The fight i was telling you guys about in my previous post, it was between the dog i am fostering (male) and another dog (female). He grabbed her ear, and just would not let her go, we tried everything, the twisting of the collar to cut off his air..nothing..held his hind legs up in the air..nothing, i didnt have anything else i could do, so…i grabbed top of his mouth, and the bottom, and tried to pry his teeth apart….no luck, and ended up getting bitten in the process by the other dog thinking she was biting him. Although when he heard me yell “OUCH” he released, like he thought he hurt me. I would like for someone to respond about my question about a stun gun…if i carried one what would it do to a dog that was attacking my own…i would not want anything to permanantly harm a dog, but also wouldnt want anything that would just make it more mad…pepper spray and pepper mix..good idea, but have heard that some dogs just dont even react to it, vinegar and water mix..good idea, but what if it doesnt work, and breaking stick is good for dogs you know, if im attacked by a stray, or my dog is attacked by a stray, i wouldnt want to even try it…any other ideas? let me know what the best ideas are..please and thanks

  16. TheRiverFinn says:

    I have an American Pit Bull Terrier and an Australian Cattle Dog that have gotten into two fights, both times because they hadn’t had their walks, both were excited and the ACD wanted on the couch next to me. My APBT is very protective. The first time it ended on their terms before I could get them apart. The second time, I used my finger to gag my APBT so he would let go. It worked, but that’s a dangerous strategy. I recommend making a modified breaker bar. You need a smooth, curved rod or stick to slide between the teeth and to the back of the tongue. They will gag and let go…and you netter be quick to separate them then. It’s really easier with two people.

  17. k.. says:

    Im going to keep each of these in my fiance and i plan playdates with dogs 99% of them are pits or pit mixes, we do it for socialization..which they need regularly…so far we had one fight with a rescue dog that i was fostering…these are all great ideas..i wanted to ask but also not sound like i abuse animals, because i love animals..i live in a really bad area, and everyone has there eye on my full breed am staff…i thought about purchasing a stun gun..mainly for men creeps that would want to take my non-aggressive dog…she may protect me if it came down to it but she really is a softy…but i was wondering what would a stun gun do to a dog, like if i was approached by a stray dog..or possibly at one of our playdates and it got out of hand…i would not want to kill a dog..but i wonder if it would not be strong enough..or too strong?

  18. Anonymous says:

    Has anyone tried commercial pepper spray?

  19. Barbie says:

    I have 2 male pitbull’s and when they get in a fight I can’t seperate them, help i’ve been bite twice already!

  20. Anonymous says:

    I wish I read this last night… Both my dog and I got bit this morning… Not fun.

  21. Anonymous says:

    well you can use ground up red pepper juice which mix with water in a spray bottle. I would use black pepper powder first on their nose because it makes them sneeze and break up the fight. It will work 99 percent of time the other 1 percent I would use red pepper juice mix with water on their nose.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for your response. The puppy will be spayed at the end of the month. They are fighting once a week. When the older dog gets excited the puppy does too and the older one doesn’t like it. The puppy has been trained with hand signals.It is so nerve racking for me because I always have to watch them. They are fine at other places but the older dog is very territorial at home. Next time I will try the blanket or water and vinegar.I’ll skip the cattle prod!

    1. TheRiverFinn says:

      Definitely skip the cattle prod. Let’s focus in your deafie for a minute. Has she always been deaf? How old was she when she left her mom? My deaf dog knew about 20 signs in modified sign language. He was an aggressor, though, and had mental problems that couldn’t be helped. As a responsible owner, I had to put him down. I’m not saying that’s what you’ll have to do, though. Check out Hector on

  23. Linda says:

    Hi Anonymous,

    I don’t think a cattle prod would work. During a dog fight, a dog’s mind is so full of rage and focused on the other dog that the cattle prod is more likely to only increase their level of aggression. I think the cattle prod would only add more fuel to a fight and I would not recommend using one. You also risk the dog turning and attacking the cattle prod but getting you instead.

    Have you had them spayed? Have you been able to figure out what starts the fight? Can you tell when they are about to get into a fight?

    I would start out taking both of them for a daily walk. It doesn’t have to be a long walk, but long enough to give them a chance to work off some energy and get some stimulation for the mind.

    Watch their body language because you can get clues on when one is getting ready to fight. It could be a problem with the younger one since she’s deaf, but you can teach her hand signals to help her understand you. A different hand signal for each command. It doesn’t matter what the signal is you use, just be consistent with each signal for a command. By teaching them both to sit and stay, you have some control over them that can help give you the time you need to get them to calm down before a fight breaks out.

    I had a deaf dog and he was taught to sit, stay and come with hand signals. I used a wave of my hand to come, hand held up with the palm out to stay and sit was a downward motion with my hand. Simple motions.

    Another command that’s good for dogs to know, is “back up”. It’s a good way to move two dogs away from each other before they start to fight. All of my dogs understand that command and it’s been useful in putting a small amount of distance between two dogs ready to rumble.

    Try and figure out why they are getting into fights. There is a reason why. Then you can go from there to work on changing their behavior.

    Your best course of action is to just know your dogs so well and know how to read their body language, you know when they’re about to get into a fight.

    Let me know if you have any other questions.


  24. Anonymous says:

    I have 2 female pitbulls, one is 4 and the other is 1 year old. They fight about twice a month.One problem is that the younger one is deaf. So far picking up their legs have helped them to release. The vet thinks that a cattle prod may work, any ideas on this?

  25. Anonymous says:

    Hey Linda, Thank you so much for that advice! When my mom first brought the puppy home, I had her keep him outside before she even brought him in the house. I got My dog on her leash, and took her out to where my mom and the puppy was. My mom was holding the puppy while I let my dog sniff his butt, We let her do that for a few minutes and right away we took them for A long walk together. (I believe I seen the dog whisperer do that, So i gave it a try) They did fine for the first few days, But I believe it was because my dog was in heat. She went after him once when the puppy had A toy, But I got in the middle before she could get to him. The 2nd time, They was outside. I had the puppy on A leash, and bella was lose in the yard.. She never pays attenion to him, so i thought that was okay. But she came up to him, put her butt up in the air and tried to play with him … I dont know what happened because it happend so fast, But She had him by the face. It lasted for about 10 seconds (but it felt like much longer lol) And I got in the middle and got the puppy. He was about 9 weeks old when that happened. (All he had was A little cut on his lip, nothing serious thank goodness) So after that I didnt want to take any more chances. But now he’s almost 5 months old, And im sick of having to keep them apart. I am getting her spayed this month since the puppy is A boy and I dont want to add to the over-population of pit bulls, So i was hoping that would help. So we are going to give that A try! I also have made alot of changes with my dog.. I went out and bought her A bed so she has her own little area, and I’ve been teaching her new tricks. (You can teach an old dog new tricks, i’ve learned) And we have been going jogging alot more than we used too. So im hoping in the long run it will all work out while we are living here 🙂 So thank you so much again, We are going to get started on that right away!

  26. Linda says:

    Hi Kelli,

    Spaying can help, but it’s not the one single solution. Having her fixed is also a good idea to help prevent health problems, like some cancers, as she gets older.

    How did you introduce your dog with your parent’s puppy? It’s a process that can take a couple weeks or longer before some dogs warm up to each other. Are the fights associated with food or when they are around you guys? Or does your dog just attack out of the blue?

    The best way to introduce dogs is to put both of them on leashes and sit with one dog on one side of the room and the other dog on the other side of the room. Do this for about week. It could take longer or it could be a shorter period of time. It depends on the dogs. As they get used to seeing each other in the same room and nothing happens, move them a little closer. Stay as calm as you can and try not to give out nervous vibes. The dogs can and will pick that up. Don’t get mad or yell at them when and if they react in aggressive ways. Keep them on their leashes. If they bark or growl, ignore the behavior unless the barking or growing becomes excessive. Give both of them plenty of time to adjust before moving them closer. In the meantime, work with both dogs and teach them to sit and stay. Keep them on leashes anytime you have both of them together until you feel confident they will both behave. Eventually, you want them to get to the point where they can smell each other.

    Learn to read your dog and the puppy’s body language. Sometimes their signs are hard to pick up, but when you know what to look for, you can stop a fight before it happens.

    I would also recommend you work with your pit bull by giving her extensive training. Sit, stay, come, down and any other commands you want to teach her. That gives her a way to refocus her mind on positive things and gives you better control of her. All dogs need to be controlled by their owner and especially a pit bull because too many people will unfairly convict a dog because of their breed. Make sure to only use positive reinforcement with her. Working with the puppy with the same kind of training would also be a good idea.

    I would suggest whenever they are left alone that you keep them separated, just to be on the safe side or at least until they’ve proven to you they won’t fight when no one is home.

    A pit bull is just as lovable as any dog and can get along with others, but you need to recognize they have the strength and ability to do harm if not properly trained or socialized.

    Try reintroducing them very slowly and give them the time both of them need to get to know each other. If you have any other questions or problems, please come back and let me know.


  27. Anonymous says:

    Hey, This was very helpful. I have A three year old female pit bull who was attacted twice when she was about 6 months to A year old.. And ever since then she lost trust with all dogs. She has started A couple fights with lose dogs in our area when we are out on walks, and I’ve been able to break up the fights by myself. I recently moved back in with my parents with My dog, and they also have A 4 month old puppy. We have to keep them seperated (its VERY stressful!) Because my dog has went after the puppy When I was alone.. I thought she was going to kill the puppy. It was very scary, So now I do not trust her to be around him at all. Do you think if I got my dog Spayed, will that help with her aggression issues? I would love any advice. I hate locking my dog up, but I do take her jogging to drain her energy each day. Thanks for reading!

  28. l says:

    Continued from post above to Lauren.

    When he gets in a fight, try and get a leash on him. That will give you some control over him and when he does let go, you can try to keep him from attacking again. Don’t be afraid to use pepper spray on him. It won’t hurt him. Spray right into the nose or eyes if you have to. Same thing with the hot sauce or jalapeno juice except I wouldn’t spray them in the eyes with the hot sauce or jalapeno juice.

    Anytime I hear one of my dogs growling, I stop what I’m doing and watch them. Sometimes you have to let them settle minor disagreements on their own and it’s a matter of knowing when you need to step in. I will put myself in between my dogs and make one back away from the other one before things get too riled up. That’s when they will still listen to your commands. They know by my tone of voice that I mean business. I still have an occasional fight, but over the years, I’ve learned to focus on reading their body language and listening to their growls to stop a fight from happening at all.

    I know how hard it is to deal with fighting dogs on your own and it is very scary. Especially when one dog is bigger than the other one.

    Let me know how things go. I understand fully what you’re going through and if I can help more, I’m happy to.


  29. Linda says:

    Hi Lauren,
    First of all, I hope your hand is OK.

    I don’t really know how well this suggestion will work for you. I started using a spray bottle filled with water years ago to use when disciplining my dogs and cats. Now, all I have to do is pick up the bottle because they all know what happens if they don’t stop. If I see any signs of one of the dogs getting ready to rumble, I can use the spray bottle before things get out of hand. Since I have multiple dogs of different sizes and breeds, I keep an eye on them constantly. 99% of the time, they’re best buddies, but every now and then, one will move wrong or growl when they shouldn’t have or give a wrong look and a fight breaks out. That’s when plain water won’t work.

    One of the best things you can do is try and stop things from happening before they get out of hand. Watch each dog’s body language and you can get a lot of hints from them. I really do believe understanding how dogs communicate is important and gives us the upper hand in dealing with them.

    I agree with you on the meds. I don’t take them and won’t give them to my pets, unless they need them for medical problems. Have you checked into aromatherapy options for your male? You can get oils that can help calm a dog with anxiety issues. Like anything else, results can vary depending on the dog, but it would be worth a try to see if the oil could help his anxiety. A good place to find them is online at a site called Only Natural Pet Store. You want a formula for anxiety and they have some good products that aren’t expensive.

    It sounds like he’s taking it upon himself to handle any situation that makes him anxious. When your female stepped on the older dog’s tail and your male flew into a rage, he was upset because of a commotion that didn’t involve him at all. Has your male been checked out by a vet to make sure he doesn’t have a medical problem that could be making him anxious?

    There really isn’t any surefire way to break up a dog fight. It’s good that he does respect you well enough to listen to you and that can help, but a dog focused on fighting won’t listen. If he won’t let go when he latches onto one of the other dog’s, take some hot sauce or jalapeno juice and try to get it in his mouth. Put some in a small spray bottle and spray it inside his mouth by spraying it at the corner of his mouth. That’s probably the best area to spray when he’s holding on to someone. If that doesn’t work, use the vinegar and water. Sometimes it does take hands on force from us to get them apart. I’ve grabbed the nap of one of the dog’s neck to get them to let go of another dog, pried their mouth open with my hands, used the spray bottle to squirt them in the face, laid on them – anything I could think of to get them to release their grip.

    Continue down to next post…

  30. Scared says:

    I have been battling with two fighting dogs recently. One, a male Pit/Ridgeback mix that I have had for 6 years, has really bad anxiety. He is scared of everything! He has never been aggressive to my other dogs until a year age. We have had personal trainers at our home, I have read numerous books, and it seems like he is improving a little bit, but in actuality, his fighting has gotten worse. 1 1/2 years ago I adopted another pit mix. She is two now and a very sweet girl. They are 99% of the time, best buddies. Because she is still a puppy (56 lb puppy), she sometimes tests him with dominance issues but he really doesn’t seem to mind. He is very submissive. Exactly one year ago, I was moving furniture and spooked the male and he clamped onto her neck and wouldn’t let go. We didn’t know how to react so in fear I started yelling and freaking out. I know that is not the way to handle it, but it I had never experienced anything like that before. I was spooked for so long and tried to hide my emotions from him. Now, exactly one year later, he has done it twice to her in one week! We went one year incident free, and today, I woke up to it and unfortunately my hand got in the middle. I am pretty sure I have a fractured thumb. She had stepped on my oldest female’s tail (12 1/2 years old) and they got into a small scruff, just some minor growling and snapping, and then my male bolted half way across the room and grabbed her neck and would not let go! He is very well trained and listens so well but, when he gets in this mode, there’s no stopping him! I am so scared because my boyfriend of 10 years, just got hired and is going to be on the road cross country for the next 6 weeks. I am so worried that if this happens, I will be alone and have no way of stopping it. I have tried loud noises and they make no difference. The water and vinegar sounds like an option, but I do not want to count on it if he has no reaction. (Or I at least would like to have a back up just in case.) I am not one to push meds on my dog, I don’t even take em myself, but I am beginning to think that maybe he would benefit from not having to live with his daily anxiety every day. Does anyone have any experience with this or any other ideas on surefire ways to get them apart, god forbid it happens again? If pepper spray is a last resort option, could I use water with hotsauce? (Only in a life or death situation?) Any advice would be most appreciated!


  31. Linda says:

    Hi Anonymous,
    I bet he’s a handsome fellow. Beautiful breed. I agree with you as far as the bat goes. Not a good idea. If you injured the other dog, the owner could hold you responsible for their dog’s injuries. It’s the owner’s fault for allowing the dogs that are running loose, but you still need to be able to protect your dog. Unless they are stray dogs, in which case you could inform your local shelter and ask if they could pick them up.

    I would suggest you carry a spray bottle filled with a third water and two thirds vinegar. If a dog tries to attack your dog, set the bottle to spray and not mist and spray the vinegar water directly into the other dog’s eyes. It will sting, but shouldn’t hurt the eyes. You can also carry pepper spray. Another suggestion is a loud one. Get an air horn and carry that with you. The attacking dog is focused on your dog, the loud noise might be enough to break his focus and give you time to make a u-turn and go the other way. Just remember to not run because that gives him a reason to chase you. The horn also has the advantage of getting people’s attention if you needed help and you can carry it along with the vinegar or pepper spray.

    Do you have any idea if anyone owns the attacking dogs? How does your dog handle the attack and what have you done in the past to break them up?


  32. Anonymous says:

    Any advice when your dog is on leash and gets attacked? I have a 2 year old intact male Bernese Mountain Dog (show dog) who is NEVER off leash. Seems on our walks he is a target for others. He’s been attacked 5 times over the years, each time by a loose male neutered dog, most lab/lab mixes. They come out of nowhere it seems, especially at night. Luckily, nothing more than puncture wounds so far. What can I carry to get the offending dog off my friendly boy? I’ve been advised to carry a bat but that seems so aggressive. Thanks for any advice!

  33. Linda says:

    Hi Barb,

    Getting both neutered will help. If the cocker was just neutered, it will take a little time for him to get rid of his testosterone.

    If the Wolfie is starting to sneak up on the cocker and you’re around to see him doing it, take a large can, like an empty large can that beer comes in. Put some rocks in it, just enough to give it a really loud noise. When you see the Wolfie making his move, shake the can hard to see if that get’s his attention. You need to break his focus on the other dog if you can. A whistle might also work, but the can is something you can toss between them to get them both to focus on something else long enough to give you a chance to get a hold of one or both of them. Yes, a blanket might help, a wet blanket is better because it has more weight.

    It sounds like you’re getting a handle on things. Jealous reactions can be hard to deal with and yes, the dog can sense your daughter’s reaction when the other dog is around. The cocker still sees the Wolfie as an outsider and they aren’t friends at all. Have you tried walking them together? One with your son or daughter and one with you. Walking the dogs together teaches them they are a pack. But you still have to be mindful of the fact that the cocker has a jealous streak.

    The trainer is an excellent plan. You might also see if your vet has anyone at the office who might be able to help you deal with the cocker’s jealous behavior. Some vet offices have veterinarian behaviorist who can help or he/she can recommend an animal behaviorist who can help, if there’s any in your area. But having control of the dogs will help a lot, too.

    Yes, the Wolfhound is going to be huge and strong, so training is a really good idea.

    I wish you all the luck I can, Barb. Hang in there with both of them. They are worth the time and effort to get them to feel like they’re a pack. Please let us know how things go.


  34. Barb says:

    Thanks Linda! Great idea about using vinegar and water. I had the cocker neutered just this MOnday and had a “to the death” style fight between him & the male Irish Wolfie pup on Wednesday. My son had to literally choke off the cocker’s air to get him to release and the Wolfie has developed a scary new tactic of grabbing the cocker by the back of the neck and viciously shaking the cocker’s head from side to side rapidly, as if trying to snap his neck. I am going to try the vinegar and water. I also read that throwing a blanket over the dogs can distract them.
    We figured out the root cause, though. The cocker is possessive of my 14 yr old daughter and she has been on the ground holding him when the Wolfie came bounding over to join in the fun, my daughter startled and jumped because the Wolfie is so big he overwhelms you and the cocker my daughter jump and attacks the Wolfie. The cocker must sense her startle and interpret it as fright and go into protection mode~then an instant fight. It has happened twice. The Wolfie is too young to be neutered, the vet wants him to be 6 months old.
    I’m hoping that keeping my daughter off the floor and not having her trampled over when she has the cocker in her lap will help. I bought dominance collars for both of them and keep a leash on the Wolfie so I can pull him out of possible confrontations. I am also hiring a trainer to work with us. The Wolfie is going to be huge and I need to have excellent control over him now.

  35. Linda says:


    Have you had them neutered? That might help down the road, but doesn’t always. My guys are neutered and they still get into fights occasionally. Although neutering can help reduce their aggression so the fights aren’t as vicious.

    One thing you could try is to mix vinegar and water in a squirt bottle and spray that in their face. It’ll sting if it gets in their eyes, but it won’t hurt them and might help.

    I’m with my dogs all the time and I can usually get to them before they get carried away because of the growls and body language they use just before a fight breaks out. But not always. Then I have to deal with the other dogs that want in on the fight. If I’m alone and can’t stop the fight right away, I have used a chair or piece of wood to try and get it between as many of the dogs as I can so I can get control of one of the main fighters. The fight usually breaks up once I get their attention.

    The getting bit part is hard. I’ve gotten a few of those myself breaking up fights.

    The best advice I can give you is to try to prevent them in the first place. Easier said then done, though. I know that. If the vinegar water doesn’t work, get an air horn or loud whistle and try that. Anything that might get their attention long enough for you to pull them apart.

    The vinegar water might also work to get one to release his death grip on the other one. I usually grab them by the scruff of the neck and hold on tight until the one holding on lets go, but you do have to watch to make sure they don’t try grabbing each other again once they’re apart. After you get them separated, make sure to get leashes on both of them right away. If you can get a leash on one during the fight, that might help you get them apart if someone is there to take care of the other dog.

    I hope this helps. Breaking up a fight is scary and I’m sure you’re more concerned about the dogs’ safety than your own. Keep a large piece of wood handy. You can put some handles on it so it’s easier to move around and try to get it in between them the next time.


  36. Barb says:

    As a owner of large breed dogs for many years and a veteran at breaking up many dogfights, I have never had a fight that I couldn’t stop with relative ease. Until now that is!
    I have a male cocker spaniel and a male Irish Wolfhound pup that have gotten into two horrible fights that escalated to a near death match in seconds. Even with help, breaking the fights up was laborious and intense. Both dogs were separated and returned to attack each other. Pulling them apart by their back legs was a total waste of time and water did nothing. The only thing that worked was to pin the smaller cocker’s head to the ground & pry his jaws off the Wolfhound’s neck. The cocker is the aggressor and won’t let go but is also so much smaller that he is underneath the Wolfie. It’s impossible to reach the cocker and neither dog releases. My son helped me the second time but the first fight ended with me getting bit. ANY advice is welcome!!

    1. Anonymous says:

      Have you heard of a “break up stick”? This is what handlers in pit fighting rings use. I am NOT into pit fighting… I work with rehabilitating dogs from these cruel environments. A break up stick can be a broom/mop handle, or any strong and long stick item. If the dogs are in a hold, slowly guide the stick into the mouth and roll it back to the back of the mouth. The dogs will latch onto the stick… when this happens push the dog off of the other dog with the stick. Then pull the dogs away from each other’s grip. This works great with two people but is possible with one as well. Good luck with your dogs!

  37. Anonymous says:

    talking about real dogs not miniature dachshunds….lol. If you can’t break them up then you are in real trouble. Try that same method (grabbing the back of the neck and holding them down) with a couple of 50+ lb dogs. Good luck! Hope the ER isn’t too far away!

  38. Anonymous says:

    The thing that works with my miniature dachshunds is too grab both of them by the back of the neck when they have a death grip on each other and just press them against the ground until one lets go.

  39. Anonymous says:

    Just help break up an ugly fight btwn an American Bull & a puppy Bull. The big one had the puppies ears in a death grip. I held the big guys head and tried to get the jaws open with no success. The puppies owner resorted to punching the big one several times in and above the nose. Some lady said there is a pressure point just above their nose – I don’t know if that works, but I do know (from testing) dogs hate it when you apply pressure there.

  40. Keyzgerl says:

    I also have a pit/rottie a dogo/pit and a blue heeler.
    I keep a harness on the dogo/pit since he and the heeler seem to be the only ones that have “snits” wih each other. They sound worse than they are but if left unattended I’m sure it would escalate into being out of control. I think it’s jealousy.
    Anyway, I can just grab the harness and swing my pit/dogo around and before he knows it he is facing the opposite direction an it stops the confict. Only once has the heeler continued to pursue the situation and a firm voice was all it took to send him back to the patio.
    They haven’t had a spat in quite a while.

  41. Anonymous says:

    Good Info!!! My Dane and Pit who seem to be best friend’s 99% percent of the time have gone at it twice and let me tell you UGLY!!!! Natural instict to scream and yell and pull them apart next time I will try the hose and or a horn as it seem’s grabing the hind leg’s is not an option.

  42. Rick says:

    Great article. I wish I had this information last night. My pit/boxer mix and heeler got into a nasty fight. I think it was a dominance thing but they were locked and nothing was going to separate them. Water did not work, pulling the collar didn’t work. It took timing when one released for a second and I was able to separate them. Afterwards they acted like nothing happen. Best buds again. Crazy dogs. 🙂

  43. Anonymous says:

    wish i knew these tips when 2 pit bulls were attacking my Jack Russel, luckly I was able to pull my jack out of the fight with nothing to use. but I did get bit and had to go to the emergency room, and those pits did over $500 dollars damage to my dog.and she lived.

  44. Anonymous says:

    A trainer once said that the best way to do it (works with two people or some way to hold one dog back) Grab them by their back legs and slowly turn while backing up. The turning keeps them off balance so they can’t turn around and try to attack you.

  45. Donna Allen says:

    Great tips! I always enjoy reading your articles and always appreciate the advice you give. I’ve applied many of your suggestions to my own dogs with a lot of success. Thank you for your witty and informative articles!