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How to Safely Break Up a Dog Fight

By Stacy Painter
published: August 17, 2020 • 2 min. read
snarling aggressive dog

Though every pet parent hopes it will never happen to their dog, the reality is that not all dogs get along, and you may encounter the occasional dog fight. Whether your dog is involved or you witness other dogs scuffling at the dog park, it’s a good idea for all dog parents to know the basics of safely breaking up a dog fight.

Remain Calm

Unless you are calling for help, it’s best to avoid yelling at the dogs or other people as this can add more stress to the already tense situation. Never attempt to get in the middle of a dog fight; reaching towards a fighting dog’s head or neck can result in accidental bites.


Spray with Water

One method of breaking up a dog fight is to spray them with water, and a nearby garden hose is an effective way of doing this. Aim specifically for the face of the more aggressive dog. If you don’t have a hose, a spray bottle or bucket of water may also work.

The Wheelbarrow Method

Another method of breaking up a fight between two dogs is called the wheelbarrow method. It works when two people pick up the back legs of their respective dogs and pull them backward and away from the other dog. Without all four feet on the ground, even larger dogs can’t continue lunging toward their opponent, making this method quite effective.

If there is only one person and the dog fight situation is such that one dog is the aggressor, this method can still work by pulling the more aggressive dog away.

After the dogs are separated, do not release the back legs until they are far enough apart. Both dogs should be leashed and fully under the control of the person handling them.

How to Prevent Dog Fights

Remove all food, treats, and toys

Some dogs are perfectly friendly with other dogs until they feel the need to defend their rights to valuable resources, like treats, food, and toys. By keeping these items, including any people food such as meats and cheeses packed away, you can prevent dogs from feeling the need to guard resources, thereby preventing a dog fight.

Learn to recognize dog body language

Catching the signs of potential aggression before an altercation can be one way to prevent a dog fight from starting. If you notice your dog displaying signs of tension in his body language, help him unwind and calm down by removing them from the situation or area.

Some dog body language signs of being fearful or on edge include:

  • Head low
  • Ears back
  • Fixed stare
  • Tail tucked or standing straight out
  • Tense muscles
  • Raised fur on the back of the spine
  • Bared teeth or growling

After a Dog Fight

When you have separated fighting dogs, it’s essential to remove them from the situation so they can calm down and regroup. Some dogs recover quickly while others may be nervous and shaken for some time.

Check for any injuries and seek immediate veterinary attention if necessary.

Even the friendliest of dogs can get into scuffles with other dogs, which is why it’s a good idea to have pet insurance. Get a quote and make sure you’re covered for any future injuries.

Stacy Painter profile
By Stacy Painter

Stacy has always been an animal lover and has worked in the pet industry and pet insurance specifically for over a decade. As a writer since early childhood, content writing for Healthy Paws pet insurance was a natural career path to combine her two passions. She currently lives in Florida with her boyfriend and Taiwanese rescue dog, Kaya.

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