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How to Stop Two Dogs from Fighting

2 dogs showing aggression in grass field

Dog fights can be scary and dangerous, both for the dogs and for their humans. And figuring out how to get two dogs to stop fighting can be super challenging. Here are a few steps you can use.

But remember… always keep in mind that dogs bite and they can bite you. Exercise caution when breaking up a dog fight.

How to Stop a Dog Fight Safely

It’s crucial to interrupt the fight in the right way to avoid anyone being injured.

First, do not yell or scream at your dogs.

Why you should never scream at your dog

One reason that dogs fight is that they are scared or insecure.  By yelling or screaming, you just make the dogs MORE scared and MORE insecure.  This can escalate the fight.

Plus, most dogs are very protective of their owners.  If you yell, they may think you’re in trouble.  Who do they blame?  The other dog.

And so, they start trying to protect you from the other dog.

On top of these issues, screaming or yelling adds tension to an intense situation.  Your dogs are already keyed up — your energy can make them even more excitable.

Use a Shock Sound to Stop a Dog Fight

Grunting can work with a lot of dogs.  One sharp, “Away!” in command voice can also work since dogs are conditioned to listen to command voice.

Another way to interrupt the fight is with a noisemaker of some sort.  Some trainers recommend whistles ( you can purchase one here from Amazon) — some go so far as to suggest air horns – though I don’t want to think about using one of these in the house.

One of those loud party spinners may work, too.

If you don’t have any of these things handy, use your hands.  Sharply clap your hands as near as you safely can get to the dogs.  The sound isn’t important, the sudden shock of it is what you need here.

Speaking of shock, another way to interrupt a dogfight is with water.

Use Water to Stop a Dog Fight Between Two Dogs

Using water to stop a dog fight

A spray bottle, water pistol like this one found on Amazon (nothing too high powered that it could hurt them!), or even the garden hose will work.

One trainer blog I read suggested adding a drop or two of citronella oil to a spray bottle filled with water.  Dogs don’t really care for the smell, so they may pull away to avoid it.

Vinegar also works for this purpose.  Just don’t use a lot because it can get into your dog’s eyes.

The idea is to distract them from each other, not hurt them.

Removing a Dog From a Dog Fight

Removing a dog from a dog fight

Other ways to end a dogfight is to remove the dogs from the situation.

This really only works if one or both dogs are already on a leash.  If you’re outside, you want the dogs to be about 20 feet away from each other until they calm down.

Once you have a handle on breaking up the fights, you can start to work on prevention.

Preventing Dog Fights in Your Home

Black dog and German Shepherd fighting on snowy road

It’s best to catch and disrupt a potential conflict before it becomes a fight.

If you see your dogs posturing aggressively, grab the whistle, clap, or use whatever loud noise distraction you’ve chosen to shock them.

But interrupting them before they get a chance to escalate, you’re reinforcing that YOU are the pack leader and in charge.

Since dogs often fight while attempting to determine who is in charge, showing that you are in charge helps to diffuse future fights, too.  They don’t have to fight over who is pack leader… the human is in charge.

You’re also disrupting the “habit” of fighting.

Dogs have habits every bit as much as people do.  And their habits can be harder to break because they don’t understand the need to break them.

Dogs are very routine oriented.

So, if the “routine” is to get into a fight over a certain toy, there will always be a fight over that toy.

Removing the toy can work, but usually, they just transfer their fight to a new toy.  Disrupting the habit is the most important part.

Another way to prevent fights is to turn the aggressive pair into a team.

Preventing dog fights in your home

Socialization is critical to dogs.  Your instinct may be to work to keep the dogs separate so they can’t fight.

But this is one of the worst things you can do — it’s not a long-term solution.

Trying to keep them separate permanently creates territories.

The dogs will still be able to smell each other in the house and will feel as if the other dog is still in their territory.  This keeps the dogs stressed and ensures that they will attack each other any time they get into the same room.

Instead, you need to find ways to show them that the other dog is a good idea.

One suggestion I found over and over was to take the pair on joint walks.  And they ONLY get to walk when they walk together.

By walking side by side, they learn a new goal beyond “who is in charge here?”

2 dogs sitting in front of a brown background

They learn that they want to walk, and they develop a mutual goal of exploring and walking along together.

It’s also important to heap praise on them both when they’re successfully in the same room without incident.

Maybe there is a high reward treat that they ONLY get when they’re together.  It becomes yet another good reason for them to become buddies.

They may still get into it occasionally.  Every pack/family has arguments.

But if you keep calm and work to interrupt them quickly, the odds are that peace will reign in your home.

For more information on training and manners, How to Prevent a Dog Bite! and How to socialize your puppy.

Recommended Dog Training Courses

There are two online video based training courses that I recommend.

  1. Doggy Dan – The Online Dog Trainer
  2. Brain Training for Dogs

These two courses serve two very different purposes. The Doggy Dan course is the best behavioral training course that I’ve ever used. It tackles problem behaviors like barking in ways that are innovative and kind and most of all WORK.

The Brain Training for Dogs course is a course that will help give curious and bored dogs something to do so that they don’t get destructive. Bored dogs often behave badly. The games in this course are fun to play with your dog and they go from easy to very advanced. If you think your dog is barking out of boredom this video course is a good choice.

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