Dog Fights! To break it up or not??

Something I thought it’s worth sharing. Dog Fights!!

This is a common sight at shelters or pet shops.

For example, our small shelter where all the dogs stays together and socialize together in the day everyday. Dog fights do break up though my pack is about 80% balance. Put it simply; brothers fight, brothers and sisters fight too, and good friends fight too, So does dogs that stays together. Of course, do not use this as an excuse to avoid correcting the problem, but acknowledge the realistic understanding that dogs are not robots.

Whenever new dogs enter our shelter, there is a 50% chance of a fight breaking out for the first 1-2 weeks especially when the new dog is introduce into the area wrongly, excitedly or disrespectfully. We will bring them for as many pack walks as possible to integrate the new dog into the pack. However, dogs that are rescued from the streets or from another pack tend to have an interdependent behaviour or tries to be the alpha. This can spark off a fight. When that happen, it only means that we as humans have failed to enforce an alpha role to the new dog as well as to the pack. First thing first, we have to admit our mistake for changes to takes place, secondly, we have to open our mind to see and understand why the fight broke out-how and what can I do to stop the fight before it escalates.

Many people missed the split second silent before a dog goes into the flight zone and fight. Dogs don’t and never suddenly fight. Whether they growl or not, it’s the split second still, silent tenseness that catches anyone and everyone off-guard. The split second silent could have occur some distance away which leads the dog to dash and attack the other dog which in turn, presents to the human as no warning.

This is where, not just experience but being precise and sharp to spot it and stop (not correct) it intently, then.. correct that behaviour. It takes practice and a lot of effort to keep observing dog’s behaviour to achieve that precise sharpness. Stopping many dog fights before, now and then, I’m still learn… and learning from mistakes. Some of which are hard mistakes. I don’t want to play hero, but I want to stop that behaviour before either dogs get injured.


Now… stopping the fight. Something I tell my clients – DO NOT pin down a dog like what Cesar Millan does. I’m not saying that his wrong. He is correct – He knows himself and where he stands in his mind, and emotions when he does it, not anyone can just do that. That’s the highest level of submission, and it has to be done correctly, right state of mind, calm, right intensity, and know when to move on. If done wrongly, the dog can escalate in the behaviour which you won’t want.

When stopping a fight you should pull the hind legs of both dogs and turn to the side immediately to prevent being bitten. I won’t go so much into details here, but I will share this short write up by a friend, as well as, she shared a link for more information:

Stopping a dog fight requires both handler to be calm. If the handler starts shouting, the dog clamps it’s jaw harder and harder, and chances are, the other dog will need a couple of stitches.

Spraying water might stop a dog fight, but it won’t stop a dog fight which has shot into fixation. In-fact, spraying water will cause both dogs to escalate in fight.

Other ways are to use a play pen fence to stop the fight. Putting between both dogs and then using a slip leash to loop over the head to redirect both dogs away.


Alternatively is to use 2 tennis rackets and then a slip leash. But the danger is, the human may end up hitting the dogs to get them to stop fight rather then putting it between them to push them away.

This is why when stopping a dog fight, both handlers must be calm and clear on what to do.

I do grab the scruff, but only when I know the dog(s) and I’m very clear on how far both dogs are in the flight zone. However, my first priority when rehabilitating dogs is not to get bitten.

I hope this helps. Just remember not to play hero and remain calm. Or, seek help.

Ezra Koh

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