Breaking up Dog Fights and keeping FIDO Happy!
September 10, 2012
• Health & Wellness
FIDO likes to play and rough house, but we know that sometimes things can go too far. Our friend and guest blogger Cindi Howell, of The Whole Pup, shared the following information with us, to help stop dog fights before they start!
Dog fights can occur for many different reasons, usually what we deal with in daycare are corrections. An older dog teaching a younger dog (an adolescent) who is still learning appropriate social skills. Since dogs communicate to each other through body language, being able to “read” the communication between dogs is key in keeping a safe and happy daycare environment.
Prevention of dog fights means stopping the situation before it escalates. Each dog can have their say but they are not allowed to continue in to a fight. Arguments can become a fight very quickly, so learning their warning signs such as a growl, an air snap, body freeze or a hard stare is critical in disrupting the situation. Being a fair and trustworthy leader is one of the most important factors in keeping the peace.
Sometimes, however, a fight will happen even under the best circumstances. At that point, breaking up a fight is a very serious and dangerous endeavor. Keeping the dogs and humans safe is the first priority, yet we must move quickly. Sometimes simply yelling “no” or dousing them with water will work, other times we will need to grab the tail and hind quarters—each person pulling a dog in opposite directions. This will get them off balance and the fight will cease. This is done with every precaution as the dog who is in a high arousal state, may redirect that aggression on the human. After the altercation has been defused the dogs are separated and physically checked for wounds. If any wounds are found they are cleaned and assessed. It is at this time we will determine if a vet visit is in order. If it is, we will call the dog’s human for a consult and proceed accordingly.
There may be times when other dogs will want to get in to the action and these dogs are called “joiners.” They are reacting or are sensitive to the arousal state of the fight. Again, this is where the “human leadership” comes in to play. If the dogs in daycare see the human as the leader, they are more likely to listen and follow their direction. If not, they are the ones that contribute to another fight occurring shortly after the first fight. Our daycare will work with these dogs to help them understand the rules. However, after a reasonable amount of time, if they are unable to abide by them they will not be allowed to continue coming to daycare. Since we want all dogs to have a well-balanced and happy life, we will recommend they work with a behaviorist to identify the underlying issue.