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How to Effectively Get a Dog to Release a Bite

By Aviram K.
Published in Training & Behavior
December 6, 2021
8 min read
How to Effectively Get a Dog to Release a Bite
✏️ This article has been reviewed in accordance with our editorial policy.
🏥 The information in this article is not a substitute for professional help.
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With dogs being such wonderful extensions of the family, we often tend to forget that they are animals at the end of the day.

As such, their animalistic behavior will rear its head at some point (with some dogs being more akin to this than others), and you need to be prepared.

If a dog has turned to bite you, bite another person, or bite a dog, there are a few quick methods of action you can take to get a dog to release that toothy grip.

The most effective way to release a dog bite is by using a break stick. If you are unequipped, the next best thing will be to knock the aggressor dog off-balance using the wheelbarrow method. Other methods include spraying cold water, pepper spray, or hitting the aggressor dog in the right spots.

Getting bitten by a dog is a messy business, so it’s much preferable if you don’t get into such situations in the first place, so you should try to avoid areas with known aggressive dogs. However, sometimes you won’t be able to avoid that, so you must know what to do to be prepared and avoid unnecessary damage.

In this article, I will provide you with the knowledge and tools of releasing a dog bite and handling one after the fact, whether you are a victim of the bite or are simply looking for preventative measures.

Ready?

Let’s dive in.

Table of Contents
01
How Do You Get a Dog to Let Go of Another Dog?
02
What Should You Do After the Dog Has Released Their Bite?
03
Who Is Responsible If a Dog Attacks Another Dog?
04
How Can You Prevent a Dog Fight from Happening in the Future?
05
What Dog Breed Is Most Likely to Bite?

How Do You Get a Dog to Let Go of Another Dog?

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Dog bites usually happen during a dog fight.

If a dog has grabbed onto another dog with their bite, whether your own canine or someone else’s, there are a few techniques you can promptly utilize to release the bite.

Before getting to them, be sure to keep a few important pieces of information in mind.

  1. Determine which dog is the aggressor and which one is the victim. If you break the bite of the aggressor, the situation will begin to alleviate itself.
  2. Don’t attempt to pull two dogs apart if the bite is still locked and gripped. You risk further injuring or even killing the victim pup if the bite has not been broken before trying to pull the dogs away from each other.
  3. Do not put yourself between the fighting dogs. If you do, you are basically asking to have the bites redirected towards you and risk being severely injured.

Use a Break Stick

A break stick is an object you can insert in a biting dog’s mouth that releases their biting grip.

Break sticks are long and flat, inserted right into the mouth as close to the back of the throat as possible (you ideally want it to be right where the back molars are). Once the stick is in the right spot, twist it! The twisting motion of turning the stick upwards will break the jaw’s grip.

You can grab a break stick like the Kuntrona Break Stick on Amazon pretty easily.

The Wheelbarrow Method

The wheelbarrow method is a common and effective technique utilized in dog fights.

Essentially, the wheelbarrow method involves grabbing the aggressor dog’s back legs, lifting them up high so that the dog is standing on their front legs only, and then walking backward and flipping them over to knock them completely off-balance.

Dogs cannot physically fight or hold on to the biting grip when their leverage (their legs) is taken out from them.

You must attempt to flip the dog over since only walking away backward may sometimes not make the dog release the bite by itself and may, in fact, cause more harm.

To be fully effective, though, both dog owners need to use it on their dogs simultaneously.

Once the dogs are separated, both individuals turn in a circle while backing away, which prevents the dogs from going back at each other and prevents them from biting the person holding their back legs.

Cold Water

While not nearly as effective as using a break stick or knocking the dog off balance, cold water can sometimes be used to distract an attacking dog.

Although most dog fights likely won’t happen anywhere near convenient access to a hose or cold water, you never know!

If you have access to cold water, spray the aggressor dog.

The sudden temperature change may jolt the dogs out of their bites and confuse them for a moment. This moment can be enough to regain control over the dogs and break the fight up.

Various citrus or shocking sprays can have a similar impact.

Pepper Spray

If you have pepper spray on hand, you can use it when the aggressor dog is actively charging at your dog before they actually bite.

Be careful, though. Pepper spray can affect the entire scene, and everybody close would get their eyes burning.

Only use that as a last resort if the aggressor dog has a rich history of biting and is actively charging at your dog. A growling/barking dog isn’t an excuse to use such extreme measures.

Using the pepper spray at the wrong time can raise tensions and might even get you into legal trouble if you misread the situation.

Worst Case Scenario

Worst-case scenarios do happen, and although I do not condone the use of force on a dog, there are situations where it becomes life or death. If this is one of those instances, you need to cause injury or stun the aggressor dog.

Take a baton, stick, or any object (preferably a long one that gives you more distance) that can be weaponized and hit the aggressor dog in the stomach, throat, or ribs as hard as possible. This should injure the aggressive dog and cause them to let go of the bite.

Again, can’t stress this enough: this should be the last resort. By getting in close to hit the dog, you are putting yourself in danger, too. So, before going this route, make sure you exhaust the other options, if possible.

What Should You Do After the Dog Has Released Their Bite?

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Once the dog has released their bite, remove both dogs from the area as quickly as possible if the threat is still imminent. If they aren’t currently on one, get everyone on a leash and immediately move the dogs.

If you and/or your dog were attacked, get to a safe area to check for injuries.

Calm your dog down by offering calming words and gentle pets. Once your pup is more relaxed, start assessing the damage done. Unless the wounds are very minor or haven’t broken the skin, take your dog to the veterinarian. There may be internal damage you can’t see externally, so a check-up becomes a must. If you are bitten yourself, get to a doctor to prevent infection.

Dog bites must be reported by law - contact the appropriate law enforcement agency and file a report. The veterinarian can assist you with this as well, or a doctor if you yourself are bitten.

After the ordeal, get your dog home to recover in a familiar environment (if possible). Some tender loving care can be just what the doctor ordered for such a horrible incident. Over time, resocialization to good, happy, and calm dogs is a good idea. A dog fight can cause a dog very significant fear towards other dogs.

If your dog was the aggressor in the situation that caused injury, you need to give the victim your contact information and contact an attorney.

Dog bites happen for a variety of reasons, sometimes the dog is provoked or scared, or other times the dog is simply aggressive.

You need to look very seriously at your dog and whether or not your dog poses a significant safety risk and danger to the community. If the answer is yes, I advise you to get professional help from a trainer to sort that out as soon as possible.

Who Is Responsible If a Dog Attacks Another Dog?

The owner of the aggressor dog is responsible when their dog attacks another dog. Dog owners have two key legal duties when it concerns ownership:

  • Preventing their dog from harming a person
  • Preventing their dog from damaging someone else’s personal property (dogs are considered property, so a dog biting another dog falls under this requirement)

If the dog bites a person, the law is strict. The dog owner is legally responsible. Depending on the severity of the bite, criminal charges may be pressed. Otherwise, it’s usually a legal obligation to pay for medical expenses and report the bite.

When a dog bites another dog, the waters can get a little bit murkier. A lot of dog fights tend to appear sudden in nature, so the location as to where the fight occurred tends to be pretty important in legal proceedings.

For example, if a dog runs into your backyard to bite your dog playing in the backyard, the unwelcome dog’s owner is absolutely at fault.

However, if you invite a dog to come to your house and your personal dog bites the guest’s dog, you are at fault because you invited that dog and had a duty to make the home safe for your invited party.

Dog fights that happen out of sight depend on whatever key evidence can be gathered to determine fault.

Dog bites that occur because a dog was violating a leash law hold the off-leash dog’s owner at fault immediately. Same with dogs that trespass to cause trouble, such as our example above with the backyard.

How Can You Prevent a Dog Fight from Happening in the Future?

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As a dog owner, the best thing you can do in the meantime is to prevent dog fights from happening in the future.

Here are some things you can do to prevent dog bites in the future:

  1. Arm yourself with knowledge of canine behavior. Learning how to read dog body language can save you or your dog’s life! Be attentive to your own pup and surrounding dogs and what information they communicate through their actions. Licking lips, cowering, overly exaggerated yawns, looking away, flattened ears, “whale eyes” (when a dog is looking away, but their eyes are on the side still looking at the perceived threat), a tail held erect and stiff or tucked under the bum, and hair standing up at the spine are all signs of a possible impending dog fight.
  2. If you’re a new dog owner, begin socializing your puppy and teaching your dog acceptable interactions. It’s a good idea to work with a professional on this front if you’ve never socialized a puppy before! Through this key learning time, puppies should learn that biting is inappropriate, and neither is “rude” behavior towards strange dogs.
  3. If your dog is already an adult, take steps to socialize them better. You can still socialize your dog even if you missed the train when they were a pup. Improving your dog’s social skills will make them much less likely to both bite or get bitten.
  4. As a last resort, you should consider carrying a break stick or weapon with you when taking walks with your pup. While this doesn’t really prevent a bite from happening, it can help deal with one. You should really only consider doing that if you’re in a rough neighborhood with many hostile dogs around.

What Dog Breed Is Most Likely to Bite?

Some breeds of dogs are more predisposed to biting than others, but this doesn’t mean an individual dog will. What matters the most is the dog’s upbringing and training. As such, even the most aggressive dog breed can act ideally given the proper treatment.

So, please, don’t make a rush judgment about a dog based on their breed alone.

That being said, as much as many out there don’t want to admit it, there are dog breeds that were bred for fighting or aggressive protection purpose.

Dog breeds such as the Anatolian Shepherd, Central Asian Shepherd, and the Tibetan Mastiff are all livestock guardian breeds bred to guard property and attack anything - or anyone - who gets near, independent of their owner’s commands. These breeds direct their aggression towards humans and animals alike and tend to bite more than others.

Breeds such as the various Pit Bulls, the Cane Corso, and Dogo Argentino were bred for fighting and (very sadly) were used for dog-fighting. As a result, these breeds are predisposed to aggression if not well socialized or trained as puppies.

Finally, some dog breeds may be wonderful with their people but have genetic tendencies to suffer dog aggression or same-sex aggression. The Rottweiler, Boxer, German Shepherd Dogs, and many other breeds are great with humans but are a bit more likely to be aggressive towards other dogs.


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AggressionHow To
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