More than 60% of American households have at least one pet and many have multiple animals. Even though we think our pets should always get along, it’s not always possible to keep our canine friends from having their own little squabbles.
Despite the loud barking, fearsome growling and baring of teeth, these fights between housemates rarely cause serious damage to the dogs. It is rare to see dogs accustomed to living together attempt to cause life-threatening injuries unless there is a possible medical or behavioral problem.
Because our pets are in a highly aroused and aggressive state during a fight, they are unaware of or even unconcerned about who they bite during the melee.
Knowing this, owners should NEVER reach their hands into the middle of a dog fight and attempt to separate the fighting animals. Doing so will often result in significant and serious injuries to the human, especially on the hands.
In addition, some pets carry specific pathogenic bacteria that could cause some serious illnesses if introduced into a human’s bloodstream. If you are bitten by a pet, thoroughly cleanse the bite with a good antiseptic and then seek medical attention.
There are some tips that might help an owner safely disrupt a dog fight in progress. First, consider using any sort of loud noise that might distract the animals. Whistles, air hornor even bells could work.
Next, if your pet responds to the doorbell, go ring it. Other options might include using words that typically motivate your pet, like “walk”, “car ride” etc. Be sure to use a loud, but happy tone of voice.
Physically interrupting the altercation by covering the dogs with a large, thick blanket can also help to disorient and calm them down. Another successful option is to use a baby gate or chair to force your way in between the dogs. This might then enable you to move one dog out of harm’s way.
Smelly sprays, like citronella, bitter apple spray or even a well-shaken carbonated beverage could do the trick. And, the old wives tale about spraying the dogs with water might work too…try pouring a pitcher of water over the dog’s head!
An important thing to remember is that if your pet has shown any aggressive tendencies, towards people or pets, you need to seek professional help. Far too many owners wait until the problem becomes severe.
The longer a behavior issue continues, the more difficult it will be to correct. This could mean relinquishment or even euthanasia of the pet.
If your pet has shown aggressive behavior, please seek a consultation with your veterinarian immediately. He or she can help you find ways to help you correct the behavior or even have you consider a consultation with a veterinary behaviorist.