Breaking up is hard to do especially if it’s a dog fight. I confess this would scare the heck out of me if any of my dogs got into a fight. Living by myself presents even a bigger dilemma and can be potentially more dangerous. Never mind that something awful can happen to your dogs, but the worse case scenario would be that something awful would happen to you. Living with a number of dogs with different personality traits and some being more dominate than the others, this is something that can happen when you least expect it to.
When dogs fight, they go into a survival mode. So in their minds, they are fighting to survive and some will fight till one is dead. With this frame of mind that they are in, the worse thing you can do is try to come between the two dogs to break them up. In his mind, he is fighting for his life. So you coming between them, you are preventing him from saving himself. Many of the pictures that I saw of dog bites on the internet were not a very pretty sight to look at. It’s painful, and can leave lasting damage and scars.
If two people are home when something like this happens, working quickly together can help put an end to the fight by pulling them apart by grabbing their hind legs. But what if you are like me and “You’re all you’ve got?” You’re home alone. So what do you do? Every article I read about this subject says to remain calm and don’t shout and scream. "Come on now….you’ve got to be kidding me. My dogs are pulling one another's faces and ears apart and I’m to remain cool, calm and collected?” I would probably be hysterical. But I’m reminded that I’ve got a job to do, so it’s time to put aside the theatrics and get down to business.
So OK, after I get over the hysterics, this is what I would need to do to break up these “fighting to survive” canines. This is dangerous business. Common sense will tell you that you can not physically get yourself in the middle of a dog fight, especially when you’re dealing with the size and power of two German Shepherds! Remember that these dogs are in the fight drive and no matter how much he loves you, if you get in the way; you’re going to get bit! Your goal is to break up the fight without getting yourself hurt.
The first thing to do is to go get a leash. Don’t expect that the dogs will stop what they’re doing to follow you. The fight will continue, but you need to go get that leash. Because the dogs are concentrating on one another and probably have their jaws locked on one another, this is the time for you to try and get the leash around the back loin of the dog. Thread the leash through the handle loop. Now back away slowly and pull the dog with you. Your goal is to try to tie him to a fence, kennel or an object. You need to anchor him to something. Then you need to do the same thing to the other dog and drag him into a kennel or the house. Then put the dog that is tied to the fence in his kennel. There now, wasn’t that simple?
Some people use cattle prods to try to break up a fight. Some research into this method believes that this can excite the dog even more and make him even more aggressive towards the other dog. I don’t know how true this is, but when confronted with this terrible situation, we all do what we think we need to do at the time. Many people will spray the dog with a hose. Most of the time this method doesn’t work. Using a fire extinguisher is better. Getting a broom or shovel between them, may give you time to break them up, but don’t count on it. The only way a shovel will work is if you knock them out with it (which I don’t recommend) and that would end up defeating the whole thing of breaking them up in the first place. You might cause just as much damage as if you allow them to continue to fight.
The best line of defense is training, training and more training. Your dogs MUST think of you as the “leader of the pack.” You MUST be the alpha to them. When you see that one of your dogs is the aggressor in the pack, the one who is dominate and likes to bully the rest, this is the dog that you need to get after. Any time that you see him acting “bad” to the other dogs, this is when you need to step in and correct the bad behavior. Instantly get after that dog to remind him that you are the alpha and if he challenges your position that’s when he needs to be reminded where he falls into the pack order. If you are not on top of this dog, this is the one that will give you the headaches and it’s not the type that “Excedrin” is even going to make a dent in. The dog MUST respect you and know that if they cross the line, there will be hell to pay by dealing with you. I own two sisters with one of them being the most dominate dog that I’ve ever owned. In her mind, the rules were made for everyone but her. She’s vocal and answers me back (barking at me) if I correct her. She doesn’t mind me correcting anyone else, but she thinks she’s too special for chastising. I’ve done alpha rolls on her and made her lay still after she protested by kicking her legs every which way she could. She’d finally submit but when I release her, she looks at me as if to say, “Okay, that didn’t hurt” and off she goes on her merry old way. She’s the reason that they’ve made Xanax for people!!! But all kidding aside, this is the type of animal that has to know that you are the boss at all times. Each and every day, she is my challenge!
Important to note about dogs that show aggression or dominance towards other dogs. Don’t wait until the dog reaches the aggressive stage. As soon as he looks at another dog with any bad intentions, that’s when you correct him. Don’t let it escalate to aggressive behavior. He must be made to know that you are very well aware of his body language. This dog is a work in progress, but even more work if he initiates a fight. Better deal with him now than later. Also never think that two dogs that grew up together and always played and loved one another can’t or won’t fight. This is when you could be in for the surprise of your life. No rhyme, no reason, but it can happen! Don’t leave two dogs alone together without supervision. I know what you might be saying…”They’ve always got along so well.” All it takes is one time to change that situation around. Also once two dogs have fought, they will fight again if "the right opportunity" presents itself.
My rating: the importance of training: (4), the importance of remaining calm during a fight (ha, ha): (4), the importance of never getting in the middle of a fight: (