How to Handle Dogs After a Dog Fight

Sometimes a toy can cause a tiff between nestmates.
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One second your dogs are licking each other's faces, and the next they look like combatants on the Jerry Springer show. When a dog fight occurs, calm their butts down, assess injuries, and give some thought to what led to the fight.

Step 1

Act calm and assume the position of pack leader. When your canines decide to throw down, your first reaction might be one of panic. Although you have a bunch of adrenaline pumping through your body, stay calm, don't yell and don't become physical with your pups.

Step 2

Direct them into separate rooms. If the fight is completely over, leash your dogs and put their furry butts behind closed doors for a few moments. This isn't for punishment purposes -- you just want the wild rascals to calm down. Make sure they're done fighting before you leash them. If they're still posturing or going at it, wait until either they have quit or you've separated them from one another.

Step 3

Check each pup's legs, chest, neck and facial area for injuries, as well as any other spot where the other dog's teeth could have made contact. Any open wound needs veterinary attention, mostly to prevent an infection from setting in. Don't rely on your pup to indicate an injury, especially just after the fight ended. He's probably still too worked up to fully realize he's injured.

Step 4

Determine what led to the fight and, if possible, remove the causes. Sometimes dogs engage in canine fisticuffs because of dominance, fear or something similar. In other cases, they might have tangoed because they share a food bowl or one stole the other's favorite toy. You'll need separate food bowls and beds, and plenty of toys for them to choose from. Having two of every toy, or at least the ones they go really crazy over, is a good idea, too.

Step 5

Introduce the dogs again. After you've checked your dogs over and calmed them down, go ahead and bring them back into the same room. Keep them leashed and keep an eye on them. They'll most likely sniff or look at one another, as if to say, "Let's be friends again."

Step 6

Talk to your vet or a certified dog trainer if the fights continue. A one-time fight probably doesn't mean a whole lot and isn't something to get worked up about. But if the fights continue, something is wrong. The problem may stem from an undiagnosed medical problem or a behavioral problem, neither of which you should handle on your own.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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