Skip to content Skip to footer

How to Break Up a Dog Fight and How to Prevent Them


Pit bulls are a loyal and loving breed of dog with countless good qualities. And as a proud owner of this wonderful breed, it’s your responsibility to keep your dog—and other dogs in the area—safe and happy.

In order to do that, it’s important to take the proper steps to prevent dog fights.

In the right circumstances, all dogs will fight. But pit bulls fights can be more frequent and more severe if you don’t know how to prevent them.

A dog fight might sound scary, but the truth is that you can easily prevent them by making a few smart decisions. And if a fight does break out, you can break it up quickly as long as you know what to expect and how to react.

A Few Things You Need to Understand About Pit Bulls

  • Pit bulls were bred for fighting. This doesn’t make them mean, bad, or evil; it’s just their heritage (similar to how many other dogs are bred for hunting).
  • Other dog breeds will act out submission signals when they want to stop fighting, which usually signals the end of the fight. But pit bulls may ignore these signals, which means that a pit bull fight can lead to serious damage—or worse—if the fight is not broken up.
  • Pit bulls are “people” dogs. They love spending time with people and enjoy attention and love from your family. They do not need another dog around to be happy.

What Causes Dogs to Fight?

  • Dog fights can happen suddenly and without warning. Fights may be preceded by growling, barking, or posturing, but they may not be. Fights can even occur between dogs that have been close friends for years. And once two dogs have fought before, they are more likely to fight again in the future.
  • Fights can be triggered by seemingly innocent causes, such as excitement and stimulation from seeing a squirrel or other small animal run by. Fights can also escalate from rough-housing, competing over a toy, or even out of jealousy (for example, if one dog is getting more attention from the family).
  • Sexual hormones can cause dogs to behave much more aggressively than normal.
  • Finally, tension between dogs can cause them to fight. And one sure source of tension is an unclear pecking order. If you have a fighting breed of dog, make sure to train it properly so that it clearly understands its place in the social hierarchy.

How to Prevent Dog Fights

The #1 best way to prevent dog fights in your home is to make the pit bull your only pet. As we mentioned above, pit bulls are “people dogs” who enjoy spending time with your family and do not need another dog to be happy.

If there’s no other dog around, there’s no one for your pit bull to fight with.

If you prefer to have more than one dog, here are 8 tips to minimize any chance of fighting:

  1. Get one male and one female. Same-sex dogs are more likely to fight. Two males (or two females) are much more likely to fight than a male and a female. This is true of every breed, not just pit bulls, because two dogs of the same sex are likely to see each other as rivals.
  2. Release pent-up energy by exercising your dogs. If dogs are not exercised frequently enough, they will build pent-up energy. This can lead to dog fights.
  3. Walk your dogs together. Walking your dogs together forms a stronger pack. Dogs that have formed a strong pack are less likely to fight.
  4. Spay or neuter your pit bulls as early as possible. Sexual hormones cause them to be much more aggressive than usual.
  5. Never leave your pit bull unsupervised with other animals. If you aren’t around to watch them, each pit bull should be crated or kept in a separate room.
  6. Watch your dogs when they are playing. Even innocent rough-housing can escalate into a fight if you aren’t paying attention. Remember, as the human you are the leader of the pack—it’s your job to set limits on the dogs’ behavior.
  7. Pick up dog toys, bones, and food when they’re not being used. Two dogs who stumble across a toy or a bone could start fighting over it.
  8. Always keep your pit bull on a leash when you take them for a walk, and keep them away from other unleashed dogs. This means that you should NEVER bring an adult pit bull to an off-leash dog park.

What If A Fight Does Break Out?

If your dog does start fighting, it’s important not to panic. Screaming and panicking will not stop a fight, it will only intensify it. By staying calming and using the proper tools, you can break up the fight quickly.

How to break up a dog fight, Method 1:

The two things you will need are a break stick (to pry the dog’s mouth open) and a collar or leash (to pull the dogs apart). It's important to keep collars on your dogs at all times. Breaking up a dog fight is more difficult when the dogs are not wearing collars.

A break stick is a stick you insert between the dog’s back teeth. Then, twist the stick to pry the dog’s mouth open.

Once the dog’s mouth is open and the hold is broken, grab their collars or leashes and pull UP. Avoid pulling them apart face to face at ground level, it will only make them fight more intensely. Separate the dogs as quickly as you can—by putting them in separate rooms, or tying one to a tree while you remove the other.

How to break up a dog fight, Method 2:

One of the FASTEST and SAFEST way to break up a dog fight is by grabbing both dogs by their collars and holding them in in the air as high as possible, so the dogs lose oxygen. Without oxygen, they will not be able to hold their grip.

Yes, one dog will usually lose oxygen before the other, but as long as both dog's front feet are off the ground and the collar is applying direct pressure to bottom of neck (as high up on neck as possible) they WILL lose oxygen and release their grip.

Do not hold the dogs in the air ANY longer than necessary — and that is the moment the dog releases its grip.

NEVER scold or hit your dog after a fight. Speak quietly to the dog to sooth it and reduce the arousal level. After the fight is over, it's important that you create peace, harmony, and balance.

The idea of a dog fight might sound scary, but as long as you follow this advice you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. Just be mindful of your dog’s heritage, and you’ll have a loving family member who will be a source of happiness for years to come.



  • D

    This is a great article, but I don’t know why it is focused on fighting amongst pit bulls. I have a pitbull and a dalmatian, both rescues that I rescued as puppies. The dalmatian is the aggressor and always starts the fight. We know the triggers now and work hard to avoid them. The pit is great with other dogs and has never started a fight. I just want to advocate that fighting is not just a pitbull dog thing. It runs across any/all breeds.

  • Mark R

    Owning a pitbull is serious business. It’s amazing how they can be like us sensitive douchebags. haha

  • Bully Max

    Thanks for the share!

  • Amel Bodhi

    Some great tips here, just shared this article on positive pit bull press :-)

  • Bobby Pettit

    Thanks for the tips on breaking up fight, the large bite scare will remind my never to listen to people on the internet again.

  • David Packham

    My pittys are brother and sister, 1 year old. The sister while smaller is quite tough. If her brother tries to get her toy she get very aggressive leaving shallow but many wounds. I know how to prevent this however I’m considering rehoming the girl because it seems she wants to be in a 1 dog home. Her brother is passive but he could mess her up if he wanted to, but he knows his boundaries and has learned well. We’ve had them since they were 6 weeks and I will be devastated to see her go but I think it’s best. My question is will this affect her emotionally and how can I be sure she is going to a good home? And will my boy change because they have been together so long?

  • Bully Max

    Are you able to verify what’s causing these fights? A toy, a person walking a dog, food, ext.? If you can figure out the root of what’s causing the fights, we’ll be able to come up with a solution for you.

  • jason hickton

    hello yall i have 2 pits one is 4 and the other is year old the problem i am having is my 1 year old is goin after the other one and it only happens when they are out side together when they are in the house they are fine. last night was the worse bc no skin is broken on both dogs and one had to go to vet how can i get my 1 year old to stop goin after the other one outside….

  • Beth Anne

    Great article and great tips on breaking up a dog fight. Pit bulls have a bad rap, but I feel that’s it’s more about the owner not knowing how to take care of them. They are a special kind of bread that needs to be treated and trained differently than your average dog.

  • Cynthia Close

    This was a really interesting article. You’ve listed a lot of good information on how to keep fights from happening in the first place, but I was really glad to see tips on how to stop a fight once it started. Thanks for addressing that, My dog is half pit bull and she tends to be a little aggressive. These seem like good solid ideas.

  • Cathy

    Struggling with dog aggression I have two females, I’ve come to this site for assistance. we haven’t had a major problem yet, I have an alpha female anerican pit and the new dog is extremely timid part pit bull, she will growl. At the alpha female, who treats all my dogs the same
    she is the boss and top dog, she doesn’t want any of the other dogs to get near me highly possessive. I also have a little Chihuahua who thinks he is the boss oh boy they have fun fighting but it’s all play for the most part until bedtime and then I do separate them. the two female pitbulls will sleep together but they don’t touch each other, I feel like I’m constantly refereeing but it’s just snarls growls posturing I’m trying to get a handle on this so that nothing bad happens I keep them separate outside when I’m not home but one day all my dogs were released from the yard and I’m not sure how this happened thankfully my neighbors called me immediately and a passer-by helped to put them in the yard

  • Veronica Lodge

    ??? you are right

  • z boyz

    This is a good article I kid you not this is what my two pit bull males do, I have one that is a 1 year old and the other one is about to be three, my older one is more passive hates convertation but the baby is a real asshoke to him at times out of know where he would be n a stance n attack my older guy n hurt him really bad, last fight he got sent to the vet. I learned I have to feed them separate as well as for when they drink because the baby thinks everything is his and knows he can scare the big guy I get in the middle of these two n I’m a 5’4 female, at the end of the day these boys love each other to death. I do realize when they do fight afterwards I should he’ll n scream as it doesn’t help, now I know and I hope they don’t fight again but I would use these tips, I am also in the process of getting them both balls chop off as well.

  • Renee Pendley

    Is it true with a pit that once they get the taste of blood they will always fight? My two males got into a really bad fight yesterday. I think it started over food. But they literally fought for 25 mins. I tried to break it up but couldnt. One was on the runner, the other runs free. Now I’m scared and not sure what to do.

  • Renee Pendley

    Is it true with a pit that once they get the taste of blood they will always fight? My two males got into a really bad fight yesterday. I think it started over food. But they literally fought for 25 mins. I tried to break it up but couldnt. One was on the runner, the other runs free. Now I’m scared and not sure what to do.

  • Bobby Pettit


  • Desirae

    We are currently having issues with our female and male. Our female is almost a year and a half and our male is about 5 pushing maybe 6 years. We’ve had them both since they were puppies, and they were best friends. Their first fight was over a toy and then she went into heat a week later. The second one was over a toy also, so we eliminated all toys. We recently got a pet potbelly pig, and they have gotten into two fights when the pig wasn’t even around, I think it’s our female that was getting aggressive and then our male not backing down. We have since spayed her and kept them separate, and switched their turns with the cage. Yesterday she had a kong in the cage and our male was roaming around our house, she growled at the pig or maybe our male and then it broke out into a fight. Do you have any suggestions as far as making them friends again? or figuring out what’s causing it? or if it’s an internal thing? Before the one will walk by the cage and they will kiss. I’m just not sure what to do, and I feel horrible always having one caged up, and now knowing they could still potentially fight if one is in the cage, I’m at a lost. I love them both so dearly and couldn’t even imagine getting rid of one. Any ideas?

  • Axel Rodriguez

    A have two 3-year old pitbulls that are brothers. I have tried taking them walking side by side, but they always growl at each other and show other signs of a fight to come. Are there any other tips to keep the peace between them whilst on a walk.

  • Jennifer Manolakos

    I have 2 males. 1 is a 3 yrs blue who has PTSD , anxiety and seizures (fixed) he’s second on command in the house. And a 2 yrs old midget American bull dog (intact for medical reasons) who’s bottom of the tottum pole. These 2 fight a lot to where separation is the only way to keep peace right now unless my youngest is leashed by my side. My younger male is the aggressor in 99% of the fights. I need to strengthen the bond between these 2 but walking my blue is not an option. The world scares him because of his PTSD and with him having seizures the vet doesn’t think walking him is a good idea. Once he shuts down its like he’s gone…I’ve waited for 45 minutes for him to come back from his trance like state after he was spooked by a guy walking down the street…. so I’ve had to use the treadmill or playing ball outside with him for an hour or two. Any suggestions are desperately welcomed to help strengthen the bond.

    Also as a side note I have a female red nose. She is the alpha and the Omega. That’s well established in the house. But she’s so calm she doesn’t care for the fights. After they fight she growls at both of them as if to say knock it off. I can walk the female and younger male. Will that affect the pack hierarchy?

  • Rachael Hayes

    I have three females… One is 7 and the other two are 3. Nova (my oldest) and Betty got into a fight over who got to bark at the neighbor dog. After they almost killed each other we kept them apart for a short time only for them to reengage. We have kept them separate for close to year now where only by accident they have had contact with each other and fought each time. Its horrible and a huge stressor on my family but I refuse to get rid of any of them because I love them so much. I’ve considered getting a trainer to help possibly reintroducing them but I’ve heard from multiple sources it’s waste of time. I’ve even considered getting a male to help. Any advice?

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published