One of the most often asked questions The Dog Gurus get is “What tools should a pet care center have at its disposal to break up a fight?” It seems there is an ever growing list of things you can use to stop a dogfight and safely protect yourself from getting bitten. So naturally, concerned pet care facility owners want to do proper dog socialization to keep the dogs and staff safe.
But I’ll be upfront about one thing…the more you are worried about the proper tools you need to break up a fight, the more I get worried that you are focused on the wrong issue. Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely think it’s vital to keep the staff and dogs safe in the event of a fight, and when working with dog socialization fights are always a real possibility. But fights should be so rare that just a handful of tools should suffice to keep folks safe.
The biggest two tools you should have in your toolbox to prevent dog fights during dog socialization in your pet care center are a formal dog evaluation process and an excellent staff training program. If you have those two things in place then you have the best tools available for minimizing and preventing fights. So start there.
Now, if you really want some other tools, here are the other ones I would include to help break up a fight:
- Kennel lead– Each staff member should be trained to carry a kennel lead with them at all times. It should be a part of their uniform. That way, if they need to leash a dog quickly, they aren’t wasting valuable time looking for a leash.
- Radio/Whistle– When a fight breaks out, it’s important to let others know so that they can assist in breaking up the fight. If you have a small center, the noise of the fight may be the only communication you need. However, if you have an outdoor area, or a very soundproof building, then you’re going to need some way of quickly communicating the fact that a fight is going on.
- Object to startle and distract dog(s)– One of the main goals in stopping a fight is to startle the dogs so that they release their hold on one another. You can use this by making a loud noise (hitting metal bowls together or making a loud sound with a marine air horn), by dumping water on the dogs (if you have an accessible water hose or large bucket of water), or by disorienting the dog (by tossing a blanket or bedding over the dog). Decide the best way to distract them and have those tools handy.
- Object to move between dogs– If you haven’t startled them, then it might be necessary to try to separate them by pushing something in between the dogs.
- Good tools for this include a small piece of playground equipment that you can push toward the dog, or even a chair that you can push in between the dogs.
- Spray Shield– If nothing else has worked, then try using this citronella based deterrent to get the dogs to separate.
With proper evaluations and staff training, these dog socialization tools should provide you with the back up you need to intervene in the rare instance that you do have a fight. To learn more check out Fights and Bites in Daycare webinar on February 6, 2019.
Robin Bennett is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, author, speaker, and expert on dogs. She founded one of the largest dog training companies in Virginia and has been using her expertise in “reading dogs” to teach families how to train their pets as well as helping others in the pet care industry keep dogs safe for over 20 years. Robin’s first book, All About Dog Daycare is the number one reference on opening a dog daycare. She is also Co-author of Off-Leash Dog Play… A Complete Guide to Safety and Fun, and an extensive staff training program called, Knowing Dogs, which are the leading staff training resources for dog daycare and boarding facilities. Robin is currently co-founder of The Dog Gurus, the nation’s premier resource for dog care professionals. Through The Dog Gurus she is now helping pet care professionals get their lives back by showing them how to create sustainable businesses with teams that truly know dogs.
For more information on this course, go to Fights & Bites in Dog Daycare. While you’re there, don’t forget to check out the hundreds of great on-demand webinars Raising Canine offers – you can find them at this link: https://www.raisingcanine.com/education/od-webinars/.