What to Do When Your Dogs Fight


A friend of mine contacted me today to tell me she had been bitten trying to separate two of her dogs that had gotten into a fight. She said it wasn’t the first time they had gotten into a fight and it also was not the first time she had been bitten. 

Having been in the situation before myself, I reminded my friend what to do – and what not to do – the next time she finds herself in the middle of a dog fight. First and foremost, I told her, do not try to grab the dog by the head, the neck, or the collar as this most probably will result in the human hand getting bitten. The best and safest place to grab the dog – and I encourage trying to grab the aggressor – is by the hind legs. Grab both back legs and pull the dog up and off the ground, which pretty much guarantees the aggressor will let go of whatever body part he has in his mouth at that moment. Quickly take the aggressor dog to a secluded area for a time-out and then check on the other dog for any serious wounds.


Kimberly Gauthier at Keep the Tail Wagging wrote a great article about sibling dog squabbles in which Celtic-K9 Trainer Dave Fitzpatrick provides advice on how to diffuse just such a situation. The important thing to remember when you have more than one dog is that they are just like human siblings – they are not always going to get along. Dave has five brothers and said he can think of more than three dozen times when he was a kid that one of his brothers and he got into an argument that turned into a fist fight. It happens. And it’s up to the parents to quickly – and smartly – diffuse the situation.

4 thoughts on “What to Do When Your Dogs Fight

  1. Excellent advice. My first dog, Casey, hated my second dog, Alex, with a passion. One time when Casey bit Alex and he did not seem like he was going to stop, I did not think at all, I just reacted. I grabbed a chair and used it to pushed him away from Alex. Nowdays I only have Alex, almost 11 years old, and she is amazing. Great temperament, but yes, if you have more than one dog, just like with kids, there is always the possibility of a fight. I like your advice:)

    1. Thanks for sharing your story! Too many times, people automatically assume that their dog is dangerous because it gets into a fight with another dog. If people would just take the time to understand, learn and work with their dogs’ behaviors, we would see fewer dogs dropped off at shelters.

      1. That is true. The bad thing about it is the majority of pet parents don’t have enough knowledge about dog’s body language, behavior, etc. I was exactly like that, but I read and keep reading anything about dogs. I am not excusing anybody, just in case you think so, but I do hope that before adopting and/or buying a dog the prospective pet parent be required to take at least once class about dog behavior and one obedience class.

  2. Great points! Dave is Irish and he is very good about educating kids using the analogy of speaking in Irish vs. speaking in English. He states that it is the same when trying to speak a dog’s language. Until you can both understand each other, you cannot effectively communicate.

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