How to Break Up a Dog Fight

Dog Fight Tips

They call it a dog fight for a reason. When two dogs decide to go after one another, they enter survival mode. It is their natural instinct to protect themselves with vicious bites. Dogs have adrenaline, too, and it gets to flowing when they are fighting.

First of all, they get disoriented, much like someone in a fistfight might. So if you start grabbing your dog while it is trying to fight off an attack, Ole Shep reflexively thinks you are part of that attack. And he will bite you.

So here are methods to break up a dog fight without getting bit. If there is one thing you must remember, do not grab your fighting dog by the collar. Also, don’t hit a fighting dog, because the dog will assume it’s being attacked and only fight harder.

The Two Man Approach

If there are two people available to stop the fight, this makes it a lot easier. Each of you must choose a dog to pull away from the fight. Then you come at the problem from the rear, where you are less likely to get bitten.

Grab your dog by the two hind legs. Lift it up as you would a wheelbarrow. In this way, you will start to separate the dogs from one another.

As you pull your dog by its hind legs, begin to slowly circle to one side. The dog must use footwork to stay on his front feet, so that it will appear to be sidestepping. This also prevents it from curling around to bite you, which is its natural reaction when you grab its legs.

In this way, one of the dogs should be removed from the line of sight of the other dog. Place it in a room, garage, fence or kennel. The other should be similarly hemmed in or tied up. Once they are removed from the fight, the dogs will calm down.

The One Man Approach

This is a lot harder to accomplish without getting bitten. Of course, it’s quite likely you’ll be alone when your dogs start going after it. Here are several approaches. Remember to avoid yelling at your dogs while trying to break them up. This is likely to agitate the situation.

1. Grab a leash and loop it around one of its hind quarters.

Drag the dog backwards to a fence or other object. Tie the dog to the object. Then turn your attention to the other dog.

For the second dog, which is likely to go after the dog as it’s being dragged and tied up, you need to use the two-man approach. Grab it by the hind legs, slowly circle with it. Eventually hem it inside a fence or room, where neither of the dogs can get after the other.

Obviously, this is likely to mean the fight will last a little longer, but it is effective and keeps you from being bit.

2. Spray the dogs with a water hose.

If you have a fire extinguisher, this is a more effective way to distract them from the fight. Try to hit them in the nostrils with the water, because this will force them to stop biting. Once again, do not move in close enough to be part of the fight. This should be used if you deem the first method unacceptable or dangerous for some reason.

3. Use an air horn or whistle to distract them.

Once again, this requires the use of special equipment, so you most likely won’t have an air horn at the ready. If you do, this tends to get a dog’s attention.

4. Grab a broom and separate them.

Okay, this is about as close as I would recommend you getting to a dog fight. Once again, this may exacerbate the fighting instincts of a dog, so approach this with caution. But if you have no leash, fire extinguisher or air horn, I would prefer you use a stick or pole to separate your dogs than your own hands.

I’ve seen people suggest grabbing a dog by the testicles, but I’m not going to suggest the same thing. The last thing you need is to be in a “hand-to-hand” fight with a dog, because it’s like bringing a knife to a gun fight.


  1. DebbyO says:

    Great tips. I had to break up a fight this Saturday and it was HORRIBLE. Both were rescues, a Catahaula and an Am. Bulldog. Scariest thing I’ve ever had to do b/c my gate was locked so I was holding each collar with one hand, trying to do the combo to the gate SOMEHOW, (don’t know how it got unlocked honestly) so I could shove one out. Seems like it took FOREVER!!! I figured getting leases around them made more sense but didn’t know the best place was at the hind legs! Thanks.

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