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Tips and techniques to prevent or break up a dog fight from experts

Henry Savage, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Cats & Dogs News

PHILADELPHIA — While local dog trainer Curtis Kelley would like to say it's uncommon for dogs to get into fights, it can still happen, and the best way to break one up is to prevent a scuffle from breaking out in the first place.

Dogs have desires, fears, stressors, and sources of joy just like their human owners, said Kelley. They have their own ups and downs. Not that you should expect your dog to get into a fight with another, but it's certainly something to prepare for as an owner. You can't predict that every walk, trip to the park or interaction with other dogs will always go smoothly.

To gather some tips, The Inquirer spoke with Kelley, a certified dog trainer and owner of Pet Parent Alliance, and Marlisa Moschella, the owner of Pant Dog Center and former president of the South Philadelphia Association of Dog Owners (SPADO). Both experts encourage doing the legwork before taking your dog out in places where it will interact with other dogs.

Know your dog's wants, needs and sociability

Dogs are social creatures, and like humans, they have a range of sociability. Some don't want anything to do with other dogs and humans, while others will want to be friends with anyone or anything, said Kelley who's been training dogs for more than 10 years. The majority of dogs will fall somewhere in between that spectrum, he said.

A commonly used term in the dog community to determine a dog's energy levels and need for interaction is called a dog's "drive." High-drive dogs are like energizer bunnies that want to explore, run and sniff anything they can find. Low-drive dogs are more mellow, satisfied with leisurely walks and aren't as likely to venture off on their own.


If your dog is high-drive: Keep a tighter leash or use a harness if they like to pull hard on the leash. Don't let your dog greet unknown dogs and be mindful of the way they play and interact with others.

If your dog is low-drive: Be mindful of other higher-drive dogs that may trigger stress in a low-drive dog, that doesn't care for high energy and play.

Kelley and Moschella said that your dog will tell you when they're feeling stressed or scared, if you know how to look and listen. These physical indications of stress can look like:

1. Body going rigidly stiff


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