How to Break Up a Dog Fight Safely Without Getting Hurt

how to break up a dog fight by yourself

Seeing your dog fight get into a fight is one the most terrifying things an owner can experience. The snarling aggression, whirling limbs, and snapping jaws is something that nobody would want to get between.

If it does happen though, you will need to quickly break the dog fight up without getting hurt. Thankfully there are some ways you can do this, even if you’re alone by yourself.

In this guide, I will offer some tips on what I think the best way to break up a dog fight safely if, should your dog get involved in one. Plus, some pointers on how you can prevent your dog from getting in fights in the first place.

How to break up a dog fight without getting hurt

The best way to break up a dog fight quickly and safely whether you’re at the park or indoors there are several methods… I’ve seen them all used successfully at my local park.

Method 1: Wheelbarrow pull (2 people needed)

One of the best ways to break up a dog fight is the wheelbarrow method. It’s not something you can do by yourself though, it needs two people. The cooperation of the other dog’s owner or someone nearby who is willing to help is essential.

break up dog fight with wheelbarrow
Hold the dog’s back legs like you would do a wheelbarrow (Image CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 via

You will need to grab the hind legs of each dog, lift them off the ground and begin walking backward, pulling the dogs away from each other.

When dogs are forced onto their hindlegs their movements are restricted, making it harder for them to continue fighting. Once separated, both dogs should be isolated from each other and treated for any wounds.

Method 2: Distraction method (can do alone)

This is one way how you can break up a dog fight by yourself if nobody else is around to help. It’s all about distracting the dogs with something far scarier than fight.

For example, throwing water over fighting dogs is sometimes enough to shock them into abandoning the fight. I saw someone do this on a campsite once when there was a lake nearby… it’s not always going to be easy to get hold of water though.

What instead you can do, is try break the dog fight up alone by using loud noises.

best way to break up a dog fight
With more than two dogs, the best way to break up the fight could be distraction (Image licensed via

For example, hitting two objects together like pans or shoes can work. However, it is important to understand that raising your voice or shouting often does not work (especially with strangers’ dogs) and can inflame tensions. Hence the need for alternative forms of loud noise making.

This method is also beneficial because there are virtually zero risks of getting bitten, as it does not involve physically having to separate and break up the dog fight yourself.

Method 3: Leg insertion and block (only works with very small dogs)

With tiny breeds, you can sometimes break up a small dog fight by using your legs and feet to separate them. However, this is more likely to work if you have boots or thick jeans on, as doing so with bare legs or in flip flops can increase your chance of receiving a nasty bite in the process.

When doing this, it is important that you do not kick the dogs involved, or otherwise try to hurt them. Instead, you should try to firmly block the dogs from fighting and attempt to push them away from each other.

Never do this with medium to large dogs, you will get hurt.

Method 4: The blanket or jacket (can be done by yourself)

If it’s just one dog which is being the aggressor, you can break the fight up and calm the situation down by throwing a jacket or blanket over the aggressive one.

When dogs can’t see, they can’t fight.

This could buy you some essential time to quickly get the more passive dog out of the situation.

How not to break up a dog fight

You should never get between two dogs fighting unless they are small enough to not hurt you. Here are more things you should never do to break up a dog fight.

  1. Do not grab the dog’s collar:by doing so you risk getting bitten as your hand is going straight into the areas where dog bite during a fight… the neck and ears.
  2. Do not use pepper spray:you might also read advice from people saying you can break up a dog fight with pepper spray. Do not do this. The dosage of pepper spray can be enough to seriously injure a dog, and possibly kill them.
  3. Do not pull on the leash:it might seem like a good idea, but means your dog cannot defend themselves from the other dog, and could be bitten badly.
  4. Do not pull a dog’s tail:whilst this might seem a safe way to break up a dog fight, being similar to the wheelbarrow method, it’s actually dangerous. The dog will still have the capacity to turn around and bite you.

Of course, the best way to not have to break up a dog fight is to avoid any situations where it can happen in the first place. Now that’s virtually impossible if you take your dog out in public, but there are warning signs you can look out for.

Warning signs of a potential dog fight

First and foremost, recognizing the warning signs of a dog fight is the best way of predicting when an aggressive encounter is about to happen. Whilst this guide is predominantly about breaking up dog fights, it is important to realize that preventing the fight from happening is always the best course of action.

how to break up a dog fight with one person
You might be able to break up this potential dog fight before it even starts (Image via

Therefore, you should always make sure you are vigilant and watch for any signs of aggression in your dog, or in any other dogs that your pooch is interacting with at the time.

Some of these dog fight warning signs are as follows:

  • Prolonged staring.
  • Standing tall, or purposefully towering over dogs.
  • Excessive low range barking.
  • Snarling and baring of teeth.
  • Snapping and lunging towards other dogs.
  • Holding ears erect.
  • Carrying tail high and moving it stiffly from side to side.

Why do dogs fight each other?

Understanding why dogs fight in the first place can be invaluable as a way of stopping dog fights. Not only can it help you to avoid scenarios that are more likely to result in a dog fight, but it can also provide insight into what you can do to ensure your pooch is calm around other dogs.

One of the main reasons for dog fights is due to their instinctual need for an established hierarchy. Although fights are more common between dogs that are unfamiliar with each other, they can still occur between canines that have grown up in the same household.

Typically, this is more likely to happen when there are multiple dogs of the same sex living together, and it is just as likely for the females to get into a fight with each other, as it is for the males.

However, to better understand the reason for this, we need to take a deeper and more intricate look into canine behavior.

With similar wild canine species (and with stray or wild dogs), there exists a separate hierarchy between females and males. Therefore, fights between male and female canines are relatively unusual, and the same is true for our domesticated and furry friends.

Due to this hierarchy, dogs of the same sex are ten times more likely to get into aggressive confrontations, due in part to their constant need for a higher status.

However, this isn’t to say fights between dogs of the opposite sex are impossible. They can occur regularly when two dogs dislike each other, or if they are highly possessive of their toys or food.

Likewise, the same can be true for dogs that come from the same family, with playful scraps between siblings and other family members often turning volatile.

Unfortunately, most dogs are inherently possessive when it comes to what they perceive as theirs. They hate sharing and will hoard or try to steal desired items from other dogs when they can get away with it.

For example, fights are more frequent if a chew toy, favorite ball, or food is involved in an altercation between dogs.

Similarly, this behavior can even extend to their owners, as some dogs run the risk of becoming so possessive that they will not allow anyone, regardless of species, to get near their food or toys.

Additionally, in certain environments, such as dog parks, family trips, or unfamiliar areas, there is a higher risk that your dog could get into a fight with another canine.

For example, at dog parks, dogs will be unfamiliar with each other, and this can sometimes cause sparks to fly. The only place I have ever had to break up a dog fight by myself was at our local park.

The other dog belonged to an old lady, and she lost all control of it.

You can also find that in places like this, dogs can quickly form pseudo packs and gang up on other dogs who they perceive as weaker than them.

It is also worth mentioning that some dogs can be overly protective of their owners.

These protective dogs can quickly become aggressive when they are in strange areas, growling at canines, or other perceived threats when they get too close to their beloved owners. Commonly, this happens on vacations or trips out of state.

Additionally, dog fights can also happen when a new dog is brought into the home for the first time. For example, it is not uncommon for multiple dogs from separate households to be brought into one house during family holidays.

This, in turn, can cause the original pooch to feel threatened, causing territorial behavior and bouts of aggression. Therefore, it is important to remember this if you are visiting family members for the holidays.

Did You Know: Some dogs will even pee near or on their own food when they have anxiety about their territory being threatened by another dog.

Likewise, older dogs can sometimes get into fights with younger dogs that have just been introduced into the family dynamic.

It is not uncommon for older dogs to become set in their ways, and a new pup on the scene can upset their sense of familiarity and stretch their comfort zone. However, the majority of older dogs will get used to a new face in the pack within time.

What do to after you have broken up a dog fight

The first thing any owner should do after removing their dog from a serious fight is to take them to the vet. And I say this because sometimes dogs will not show any signs of visible injuries. This can often lead to further complications if they are not treated.

Unfortunately, lacerations and other wounds can easily be covered by fur and can go unnoticed by owners for long periods, increasing the odds of the dog getting nasty infections and becoming seriously ill.

However, if you notice your dog is bleeding or is showing any other visible signs of a deep wound or bite, then you should first make sure to place a clean towel over the wound and apply gentle pressure – helping to slow the bleeding.

Depending on the severity of the wound, you can also wash the injured area carefully with water.

If your dog is unable to walk then you can try carrying them, however, it is worth bearing in mind that some dogs can bite when injured or when frightened, so it pays to act with caution.


Thankfully dog fights are rare (at least for me they have been), but they have the potential to become serious quite quickly. Therefore, knowing how you can break a dog fight safely or even by yourself up is essential knowledge all dog owners should be familiar with.

You just never know when it might happen to you and your dog.

Hopefully, with my guide you will be able to avoid any dangerous altercations between your dog and other canines. After all, spotting a potential dog fight before it happens can sometimes be enough to get your pooch out of harm’s way, preventing any nasty injuries.

If the worst happens and your dog does get into a fight, knowing how to break it up safely and prevent any lasting injuries is essential.

Although most fights between dogs are usually quick and do not result in significant injuries, there is always the chance that this could turn into a more dangerous and drawn-out situation.

Not only are dog fights risky for any dogs involved, but they can also result in owners sustaining serious injuries, some of which may need immediate medical intervention.

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Marc Aaron

I write about the things we've learned about owning dogs, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips we've picked up along the way.

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