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Safely Intervening in a Fight Between Dogs

Dog owners quickly learn to pay attention to their dogs’ behaviors around other animals. Running into other dogs is a common occurrence, whether on walks or at dog parks. Quite often two dogs can encounter each other in a peaceful way, perhaps with some playful roughhousing thrown in. But sometimes an encounter goes wrong. Whether a dog is reactive to other animals can be unpredictable, even for dogs with well understood personalities. This means there’s a risk in every encounter that it could turn into a real fight, with the potential for serious injuries.

For owners, the question becomes how to address these circumstances in a safe way. The first reaction many people have when they are near two dogs that are fighting is an adrenaline-filled rush of fear and concern. A human’s instinct is probably to rush straight into the fray to stop the encounter. The problem is that the human who attempts to grab at the fighting animals may end up with a serious bite.

Perhaps the first thing to remember about fights between dogs is that they are typically, though not always, about the animals trying to establish a dominance relationship. When two “alpha” dogs meet, they may feel a need to settle who is the more dominant one by a show of force. Most dogs have a sense of self-preservation: they don’t want to be injured and will submit if the fight isn’t going their way. Unfortunately, some dogs don’t just back down, and some have a hidden viciousness that drives them to behave especially aggressively to establish themselves as boss. When a fight has escalated, it can be necessary to intervene.

Here are some good ideas for handling a dog fight:

  • Don’t reach in to grab at the animals or their collars. This can lead to serious bites to hands and wrists.
  • The dogs aren’t paying attention to anything but each other, so yelling and stomping feet isn’t likely to do anything but add further stress to the situation for yourself and others.
  • If the owner of the other dog is present, try the wheelbarrow method, which involves lifting the hind legs of both dogs off the ground and pulling them away from each other. This can also be done with a leash looped under the dog’s belly. The key is to avoid the dog’s head.
  • If your on-leash dog gets into a fight, drop the leash to avoid the leash becoming a source of injuries to the animals.

The best way to handle dog fights is to prevent them from getting started. Recognizing when a dog is reaching badly to another animal is a key skill every dog owner must develop. For some animals it’s better to simply keep them away from other dogs except perhaps in controlled situations.

For over 45t years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients recover damages for dog bite injuries. If you have questions about your legal options after being bitten by a dog in the Las Vegas area, contact us today for a free attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or through our contacts page.