The following post was written by TDWA member, Rachael Johnston. Rachael is a dog walker, and the manager of operations at Rover Achiever, which serves the Annex, Little Italy and Seaton Village. In addition to years of dog walking experience, Rachael is also an accredited dog trainer.
Dealing with dog fights in progress:
- Don’t’ panic
- Space and momentary quiet
- Redirect attention and give them space
- Leash up and leave if necessary.
We’ve talked about strategies to put in place to avoid (as best we can) dog fights at the park. But as with all things in life, sometimes things don’t always work out the way you plan; you get momentarily distracted and suddenly you hear a dog fight break out.
I won’t get into specifics about how to separate the dogs from one another. The focus of this post is in dealing with dog fights in general and how to de – escalate the situation.
- DON’T PANIC! One sure fire way to add fuel to the fire of a dog fight is to panic and run in shrieking with flailing limbs! Remain calm. Walk briskly, purposefully and quietly over and separate them. Do this quickly – dog fights can draw other dogs over – best to separate the dogs in question before others join in.
- Do not scold the dogs or punish them in any way. Dogs will be dogs and your punishment will not prevent the dog from getting in an argument in the future. What it will do is add stress and tension to the present situation – a situation that is already stressful and tense.
- Give the dogs in question space from one another. Pick up their leash if they are dragging one or momentarily leash them up and guide them to a quiet spacious area of the park
- Take a moment to be with your dog. Check them for injuries – if none are found talk to them in a gentle, quiet voice and help them calm themselves. Give them some treats and if you are able ask for a couple of sits and reward them for offering this nice calm behavior (or some other quiet behavior) – giving your dog something else to do that is focused and calm can be very helpful. The focus is to help your dog feel calmer and less agitated/stressed.
- Watch your dog and the dog whom s/he fought with. Often fights are momentary and once interrupted the dogs move on to other things – often they can even go near each other once again without incident. However if you notice either dog looking stressed, tense, continuing to give each other hard stares with stiff, tense bodies it may be time just to leash up and leave the park for the day.
- Check with the owner of the other dog to make sure things are ok on their end as well. If injuries have occurred (to either dog) exchange contact information.
We cannot stress enough however, that most dog fight are preventable, so please refer to part one of this post to learn more.