With all this talk of dog aggression and the like, it's probably obvious that ACCIDENTAL fights DO occur --
-- well, the first thing to do is PREVENT fighting. There are many ways to do this -- here are my thoughts:
- Know your dog - know where he is at all times, and that he is secure -- whether it be in your apartment, running around by himself, or crated, if in a multi-dog, cat or kid household. Also, if you know your pup doesn't do great around other dogs, or in strange settings, DON'T PUT HIM IN THEM -- what's more worth it, having Binky go to Buffy's birthday party, or being able to keep your pup as a pet and not working away the rest of your youth towards someone's tort settlement?
- First impressions are everything - if you deem your pup worthy of meeting other pups, do it on a 1-on-1 basis, and do it slowly and carefully -- this can be done by:
- going to an open field, neutral to both pups
- having them on leashes
- walking for 3-4 minutes in separate areas
- coming together, with 10 feet between the pups
- a lot of "that's good" and "good boy" and "good girl" praise
- if things go well, eventually having them closer to each other, sniffing and socializing, leashed.
- Remember, a bad introduction is never forgotten, so it's worth doing it carefully and slowly.
- Females are generally more aggressive than males. I don't know why -- maybe it's a turf thing, but the ladies seem to definitely hold their ground more than the males... in my house, the ladies aren't budging, while the males run for the covers -- !!
How to separate a fight if it occurs
Here's my suggestions multi-pit situations:
- First off, I never, ever recommend having more than two pit bulls out at a time. If a fight ever ensues, the non-party dogs' mentality will be to pile-on the fight, biting at whomever they can. This is virtually an inseparable situation.
- Always have one person per dog, should a fight ensue -- one person per dog to separate them.
- Always, always, always have a strong collar on your dog -- click here for my suggestion --
- Successful steps in separating an accidental pit bull fight:
- First, I emphasize this is an ACCIDENTAL fight -- I don't condone fighting dogs, and having a beloved dog screaming with pain during a fight is a strong enough visual to convince ANYONE that intentional dog fighting is cruel, inhumane, and makes you, the "owner" officially trash to humanity, yourself, your upbringing, and God.
- Okay, that explained, here are the steps I have seen in accidental fights that were successfully split up:
- Step 1: the fight is about to begin. This is very characteristic -- often preceded by stiff body motions of the dog, an erect tale, and erect fur. However, with some dogs, there is no warning at all. The dogs are basically "sizing each other up" here -- one dog may fall on its back (in submission) -- ideally, that would end the contest -- BUT, the dominant dog may take that as an invitation and jump right in. Dogs may also show signs similar to shivering, where they sit and tremble.
- Whatever you see, IMMEDIATELY try and "call off" the dogs, preceding the bite, or in the initial scuffle. This can be done any way you want -- screaming often works, and diverts their attention.
- Step 2: the fight begins. One dog has a bite of another. Here when you know you have to do something. If you have access to a "breaking stick", great, go and get it -- a breaking stick is a wooden stick, like a hammer stick (without the hammer head on it) to pry between the dog's jaw to break their hold. I am NOT a fan of this technique, because while you are running to get your stick, the dogs are damaging each other -- this can happen very fast -- likely all in under a minute.
- Step 3: your intervention. Here is where you decide if you will put yourself in the middle of this situation to stop it. If you won't, I strongly suggest you look at another breed. At this point, you are the only thing that will stop this fight. If you will, here are the steps (wearing long pants is preferred):
- first - realize what you want to do. You want to limit the fight to one bite, and you want to minimize the tearing of flesh. Lifting, twirling, etc. of the dogs makes the flesh separate from the muscle, ending up in torn flesh, expensive vet bills, and a fight that will likely continue.
- second - put your knee at the bite-point and apply pressure . In this step, you are getting the dogs to the ground, minimizing any tearing that can be done, and you are starting to break the fight up.
- third - grab the collar of the biting dog. Twist the collar, cutting off the dog's air supply. You are trying to break the dog's jaw-grip here, and blocking their breathing certainly does this. Simultaneously, have your friend grab the bitten dog's collar, ready to pull the dog away once the bite breaks.
- fourth - with the strong pressure from your knee and the collar twisting, the biting dog will likely have let go by this point. During this time, having someone distract the biting dog is helpful, to try and break its bite -- throwing a bucket of water on the dogs can work well to do this. BE VERY CAREFUL NOW -- for both pit bulls, this the end of "round one" and NEITHER will back off -- they need to be quickly separated. This is also the reason to have NO OTHER dogs in the room, since they will likely join in on the "fight" and you will then have more dogs than people to allay the situation.
- fifth - get both dogs in crates, in separate rooms, and watch them under intense scrutiny for the next couple of days. They are at a heightened level, and are more likely to attack other dogs, etc. They need to earn your trust back, though they can never really be trusted together again. Many think that adrenaline levels produced during a fight can take as long as two weeks to fully break down
and leave the blood stream. Therefore, dogs involved in a fight are often still
on heightened alert for several days after the fight.
- sixth - examine the wounds, clean them, and take the injured dogs to your veterinarian.
- seventh - these dogs should likely not be together again. Unfortunately, their memory is very strong, and fights are rarely forgotten.
That's my take on how to split up a fight. I am not trying to glamorize fighting or anything near that with this explanation. A dog fight is quite scary, and people that aren't willing to separate the dogs immediately should own another breed. Plain and simple. Also, pits should NEVER be allowed to "fight out" the alpha position of the household. While this is easier for less fight-worthy dogs, for pits, a good old alpha-challenge can be deadly. This makes multi-pit households difficult, since there usually MUST be a sole alpha with all dogs; however, getting there isn't so easy with more than one pit bull.
An acquaintance of mine had a pit bull that attacked her German Shepherd (GSD). Instead of breaking the fight up, she let the pit bull bite the GSD for close to an hour. Not only was the GSD physically injured (he's lucky he lived) but the fight spooked him for life. In my eyes, this "owner" had no right "owning" a pit bull.
Please note that the above is a suggestion on how to handle a rather precarious situation. It is not meant as professional advice, and I assume no liability from those following it. Also, many experienced pit bull owners have differing views on how to own and manage pit bulls. Please take the time to review differing opinions and to come up with your own game-plan, should an altercation ever arise.
So, if you agree to these traits, the pit bull will be a wonderful companion -- many of these traits can be smoothened with plenty of obedience, positive reinforcement and love -- however, the basic breed trait of dog aggression can not be trained completely out of a pit bull once it is observed. Some pit bulls show no signs of dog aggression at all -- we call those heaven-sent -- !