To most of us, pets are family. They sleep in our beds, and we may even sneak them scraps from the dinner table. So when one of our family members is in danger, we want to do anything we can to stop the threat. When your dog is attacked by another animal, you may be able to intervene and stop the fight—if you follow some appropriate precautions.

Don’t Just Dive In

Your gut reaction may be to hurl yourself between your beloved pet and the threat, but this won’t always work out in your favor. Instead, stay calm and take a couple of seconds to observe the dogs’ behavior. Is there a clear aggressor? Which animal is operating at a higher intensity? It may seem counterintuitive, but that’s the dog you want to focus on. Give the dog a touch around the ribcage area; it should surprise the dog into letting go of the other, according to dog obedience guru Cesar Millan. Finally, withdraw your hand quickly.

If getting too close to the belly of the beast isn’t your style, there are other options. You can try to get the aggressive dog’s attention with a loud voice and a yank on the collar. Just don’t pull from the top; the dog may take this as a sign that you’re joining the fight. Instead, pull back and up.

If a couple of shouts don’t help, don’t keeping screaming in hopes that the dog will eventually hear you. At that point, the dog is too invested in the altercation to heed human commands. Instead, try calling for help or trying another one of the tricks highlighted above. Just remember to remain calm and assertive through the process.

Prevent the Altercation

If you’re out in public with your pet, be cognizant of your surroundings, particularly if you’re in an area where pets are allowed to be off-leash. Keep an eye out for these telltale signs of aggressive behavior:

  • A guttural bark
  • Rigid stance
  • Growling or baring teeth
  • Quick nips at another animal
  • Lunging
  • Hair standing on edge (“ridge” back)

If you notice any of these signs in another dog, immediately put space between yourself and the aggressive animal. It is always best to err on the side of caution, even if your dog prefers free range while playing, walking, or exercising.

After the Fight

Once you’ve successfully broken up or prevented a fight, you still have work to do. If the other dog’s owner is still around, you need to get some information from him or her. Make sure the other dog is up-to-date on all of its vaccinations, particularly rabies. If you’ve been hurt trying to stop the altercation, seek immediate medical treatment. You should report the dog to animal control as soon as you are able. Local authorities will take appropriate steps to determine if your situation was a one-time lark or if the dog poses a threat to the public.

The owner may not be cooperative, but make every effort to get their contact information in case you need to follow up. Contacting local law enforcement is also wise; they can help you file a formal report that you may find useful later.

Vet bills can rack up fast. Unlike humans, dogs typically don’t have insurance to cover medical expenses. If you or your dog were seriously injured in a dog fight and you’re struggling to pay related medical bills, you may be entitled to compensation. If you suspect you may have a case, contact a West Virginia dog bite lawyer at Tiano O’Dell, PLLC. We’ll review the facts of your case and let you know if we think it’s worth pursuing. Contact us to set up a free initial consultation.

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