It is one of those mysteries – if we see one dog attack victim, we will often see others in the same week or even day, that are separate incidents – just coincidence? Summer brings in more of these cases – more dogs out and about. There are few things more distressing than to have your pet involved in a dog attack.

What to do?

Don’t panic. Remember that most dogfights are noisy but often relatively harmless. If you stay calm, you’ll be able to separate two fighting dogs more safely and efficiently. DO NOT go to grab your dog by the collar if she starts to fight with another dog. It seems like the natural thing to do, but it’s a bad idea. Your dog might whip around to bite you. This kind of bite, called redirected aggression, is like a reflex. The dog simply reacts to the feeling of being grabbed and bites without thinking.

Another reason to avoid grabbing your dog’s collar is that it puts your hands way too close to the action! You might be on the receiving end of a bite that was intended for your dog. This year we had a dog rushed into the clinic that had been in a dog fight and was covered in blood. After examining the dog there were only a few superficial scratches. The blood must have come from the owner who was at emergency receiving treatment for multiple bites to the hand that she had sustained whilst trying to separate the dogs.

Distracting dogs is your best option. A sudden, loud sound will often interrupt a fight. Clap, yell and stomp your feet. If you have two metal bowls, bang them together near the dogs’ heads. A car horn, a whistle may also do the trick but if no response in a few seconds try something else. Turn the garden hose on them or throw a bucket of water. Tossing a large blanket over them may also startle them enough to allow them to be separated. Do not use hands – try a rubbish bin, folded garden chair or a looped leash or garden hose around the neck. Prevention is better than a cure so keep your dog on a lead at all times.