The best way to avoid a dog fight is to prevent it entirely; understanding the signs of aggression in your own pet or in another dog can help you avoid fights. If your pet is an unneutered male, he may be more aggressive to other males; neutering can help reduce your risk. Leaving the park or area immediately if you spot a dog that is behaving oddly or aggressively can help you avoid a fight; separating your own dogs before giving a food treat if you know they fight over food and toys can help if you are worried about your own pets.

two dogs, a beagle and a border collie, playing and showing teeth, separated from background

Preparing for a fight begins before you step outside with your dog. Purchasing sprays or other devices that will distract dogs without harming them gives you a way to scare off an attacker if a fight occurs. A small canister or air horn don’t take up much space and can keep you and your pet safe. According to PetMD, if your pet does end up in a fight, these tips will help you break things up without getting hurt yourself:

Don’t Overreact

In some cases, that scary looking squabble will resolve itself in a moment. Even if it does not, shouting and placing yourself between the dogs will not help; it could even result in a nasty bite for you.

Create a Distraction

Is there a hose nearby? Spraying the dogs with a strong jet of water from a distance will help. If you are not in your yard, a pepper spray (even one for humans) or an air horn will distract the dogs long enough to separate them without harming them. Even opening an umbrella quickly close to the combatants can distract them.

Air horn on white background

Separate the Dogs

If the other dog owner is present or you have a helper, attempt to separate the dogs physically; tossing a blanket over them, inserting a large, long branch or other item (not your hand or arm) can help divide them. Do not reach for your dog’s collar or attempt to separate them with your hands. If you have to loop a leash around the dog’s back end and pull him backwards; your partner should do the same thing to the other dog.

Retreat to a safe location, keeping the dogs separated and check your dog for injuries. Your dog may still be scared and agitated, so avoid handling him; bring him to the vet right away for treatment.

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