Breaking Up A Dog Fight Safely.


Thankfully, truly serious dog fights are a rarity. Nevertheless, when it does happen it can be an unpleasant and scary situation to be in. This Holidays4Dogs article looks at what you can do when dogs fight and offers advice on breaking up a dog fight safely.

What is the best course of action should your dog be involved in an altercation with another dog? How about if you witness a fight between dogs you don’t know? It can be an unsettling thing to witness dogs fighting. However, having a plan of action in mind, can help resolve the situation without anyone getting hurt.

Dog aggression statistics.

While the RSPCA advise that a certain amount of aggression is normal behaviour in dogs, other experts claim that in recent years, dog aggression has become a more marked issue among pet dogs. In recent surveys carried out by the veterinary profession, there has found to be an alarming increase in dog aggression.

Vets have long been concerned about the behavioural impact of dog bought over the periods of Covid-19 lockdowns during 2020/2021. Indeed, dog experts such as Victoria Stillwell also claim that dog aggression is on the rise. She attributes this to several factors including, lack of socialization, lack of exercise, in addition to poor breeding practices and its relationship to genetics.

Squabbles can occur.

However, just like people, not all dogs get along all the time. Scuffles can occur either in the home between familiar dogs, or in places where there are un-known dogs mixing.

If your dog is involved in a fight, try and stay calm. This is often the most difficult thing to remember when faced with a dog fight situation.

Quite often, dog scuffles and fights are brief affairs. It is always worth waiting a few seconds to see if the fight comes to an abrupt end. It commonly does.

Dogs will always do everything they can to avoid conflict. Therefore, there will usually be plenty of warning in the form of teeth baring, or growling. It may be noisy and aggressive sounding. However, many dog fights end  in a short space of time, with neither dog having suffered any injury.

If you are unable to stop the dogs fighting, here are a few options of actions to take;

  • If you are near to a hosepipe, or can quickly fill a container with water to throw over the dogs, this sometimes acts as a distraction.

  • Use a towel, or coat, to throw over the fighting dogs. This may be enough to interrupt the dogs.

  • Loud noises may startle the dogs into ceasing fighting. Banging a metal pan against a wall for instance.

  • Try to use an object to push between the two dogs – such as a board, or chair.

  • If you have a walking stick available, try and loop this into one of the dog’s collars and pull one dog away from the other.

  • Never hit, or kick, dogs that are fighting. This may encourage the dogs to fight harder and/or to re-direct their aggression to you.

  • When you have managed to separate the two dogs, make sure they are completely removed from the area, so neither one can see the other.

  • Check both dogs for signs of injury and seek veterinary attention where necessary.

Breaking up a dog fight is potentially risky. You should NEVER try to grab the dogs with your hands in an attempt to separate them. 

If you know your own dog is likely to be aggressive, keep him on the lead around other dogs and people. Seek help from a good trainer, or behaviourist, to work on the issues. Everyone has the right to enjoy a peaceful walk with their dog and it is important to be a responsible dog owner and consider others.

The law is not clear when it comes to dog-to-dog attacks. However, the law does state that a dog, ‘must not be dangerously out of control in a public place’.

If you, or your dog, are subject to an attack by another dog, try and get as many details as you can of the dog and owner. Where possible, take photographs and gather the names and addresses of any witnesses. Should the case make it to court, they will decide if the owner is guilty of failing to control their dog.

Punishment can vary from a hefty fine to banning the owner from keeping dogs.

Resources and who to contact.

It is always advisable to contact the police to report dog attacks to the police. However, many police officers may advise that nothing can be done. You can request the incident is referred to dog legislation officer, who should be available to each force, (as advised by DEFRA).

A complaint can be made under Section 2 of the Dogs Act 1871 by the police, a local authority, or an individual. An order may then be made to bring civil proceedings to a magistrates court.

A judge will then decide if the complaint is justified and, if so, can make an order against the owner.

It may be possible to pursue an owner of  through the courts to recover any vets bills. However, this may incur costs via a solicitor experienced in these matters.


You can prevent dog fights in the home by avoiding competition over resources such as, food and toys. This is particularly important in multi dog households. Make sure you always referee when dogs are playing and interrupt any sessions that seem to be getting out of hand.

On the whole, most dog owners will not witness a really serious dog fight. However, it always pays to have an understanding of breaking up a dog fight safely, should the worst happen.