Since the warm weather has started to show up here and there, I've gotten quite a few inquiries from dog guardians about dog fights and how to prevent them. Although I mainly speak to stress and anxiety issues, I have had some experience with this and have my own "defense mechanisms".
When we walk our dogs or take our dogs to an off leash dog park, we should be informed dog guardians and be ready for that occassional fight. In dog parks especially, there are all different kinds of dogs with all different kinds of temperments. Just like in a school yard, fights may occassionaly break out. You need to be prepared so you can protect your dog and in most cases, yourself.
You need to keep in mind that dogs who are fighting can be redirected to you! This is when we can get hurt. Here are some tips to keep you and your dog safe.
There are some people that may recommend carrying mace or pepper spray. This can be a very dangerous tool if you don't know how to use it. I'm not a huge fan. Rather, I would recommend a small child's squirt gun or spray bottle filled with straight white vinegar. Vinegar will sting when it hits the mucus membranes of the eyes and nose, but will not cause any permanent or long-term damage to the animals. More often than not, it does the trick to distract the dogs so you can separate them.
If you're by yourself, I recommend that you not try to break up the fight alone. You can get hurt! Don't think that your own dog won't bite you. When your dog is trying to protect itself, he may bite you as he is in defense mode. Instead, scream for help or use your cell phone & dial 911. But don’t try to get in between the dogs.
If you feel your dog doesn't stand a chance unless you intervene, you can try and grab the dog's back legs to pull them apart and be ready to squirt in the eyes like crazy! Never reach for the collars!
Keep in mind that your dog may seem fine right after a fight but that may be adrenaline talking. Keep a close eye on your dog for any changes in behaviour. A dog fight can have a lasting effect and may cause anxiety, stress and fear.
I would highly recommend a gentle massage and some music therapy once you get home and take your physical assessment. It will do a world of good to ease their stress and yours too!