Recognize and safely break up a dog fightDog attacks happen more frequently than most Ohioans may think. According to a 2015 study by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA), each year more than 4.5 million people in the United States are bitten by dogs. Of those, about one in every five people (around 800,000) need to seek medical attention for dog bites. Often times, dog attacks occur in the arena of two or more dogs fighting amongst themselves. In these scenarios, our clients frequently ask how they could have effectively and safely broken up a dog fight between dogs engaged in an aggressive battle.

Look for Signs of Aggression

First, it is monstrously important to maintain your composure. Consider that the encounter may not be a fight at all. Indeed, the dogs might be getting to know each other, or doing what they believe is playing. Dogs frequently will nip, snap and bite at each other as a way of frolicking. If you overreact, you may inadvertently start a dog fight by escalating the situation.

Next, look for signs of aggression. The key sign of a serious dog fight, as opposed to playful biting is a show of aggression. The ASPCA defines aggression in dogs as:

The term “aggression” refers to a wide variety of behaviors that occur for a multitude of reasons in various circumstances. Virtually all wild animals are aggressive when guarding their territories, defending their offspring and protecting themselves. Species that live in groups, including people and dogs, also use aggression and the threat of aggression to keep the peace and to negotiate social interactions.

To say that a dog is “aggressive” can mean a whole host of things. Aggression encompasses a range of behaviors that usually begins with warnings and can culminate in an attack. Dogs may abort their efforts at any point during an aggressive encounter.

A dog that shows aggression to people usually exhibits some part of the following sequence of increasingly intense behaviors:

•Becoming very still and rigid
•Guttural bark that sounds threatening
•Lunging forward or charging at the person with no contact
•Mouthing, as though to move or control the person, without applying significant pressure
•“Muzzle punch” (the dog literally punches the person with her nose)
•Showing teeth
•Snarl (a combination of growling and showing teeth)
•Quick nip that leaves no mark
•Quick bite that tears the skin
•Bite with enough pressure to cause a bruise
•Bite that causes puncture wounds
•Repeated bites in rapid succession
•Bite and shake

Because of these factors, resist the urge to reach your hands into the fray. Dogs who are in an aggressive situation will turn and bite someone quickly.

Distract The Dogs

Next, and probably the safest way to handle a dog attack, is to distract the dogs. Make noise, quickly retrieve treats, or toss a toy into the middle of the fray to distract the dogs from one another. Once distracted, quickly /safely remove one of the dogs from the scene.

If the dogs are intent on fighting one another and cannot be distracted, you will need to try another method of separating them. suggests putting a barrier in between the dogs, such as a piece of cardboard or a plastic fence. They also suggest throwing spraying the dogs with a hose, or throwing a blanket over them. Of course, some of items may not be present, and you may have to get physically involved.

Should you need to get physically involved, consider several factors. First, take into consideration the size and aggressiveness of the dogs that are fighting. If two Rottweilers are battling, it may behoove you to take the time to find one of the aforementioned ways to non-physically breaking up a fight, as your safety will seriously compromised.

If two smaller dogs are engaged, then proceed with caution. If you physically get involved, you are risking injury to yourself and the dog(s). suggests grabbing a dog by the hind legs, to reduce the opportunity for the dog to turn on you. It also suggests using your legs to break the dogs up. If you must use your hands, grab a for the back of the neck or collar and be mindful of how close your face gets to the situation.

Unfortunately, dogs are territorial and get into fights. When breaking them up, use extreme caution and attempt to intervene in a non-physical manner. If you must get physically involved, Make sure to maintain your composure and be mindful of your surroundings. Should you be bitten, seek immediate medical attention.

Dog Bite Prevention and What To Do If Bitten

We’ve put together a dog bite prevention program aimed at educating kids on how to avoid situations where a dog is prone to biting. The program consists of a fun, animated video and a children’s storybook. To view both the video and the storybook, please visit this link: Ohio Dog Bite Prevention Program

If you, your child, your spouse or other loved one has been bitten by a dog, please contact us for a free consultation with one of our experienced Ohio dog bite attorneys. A free consultation is just that – free. There are no costs and you are under no obligation to hire our law firm. To request your free consultation, please contact us by calling 1-888-998-9101, chat with one of our 24 hour live chat representatives or send us a website message. We make ourselves available at all times including weekends, evenings and holidays.