I got a call from a distraught client late last week who had been looking after several of the “neighbourhood” dogs in her house, ranging from larger rottweilers to smaller cross breeds and maltese terriers.
There had been a dog fight between one of the rottis and the maltese terrier and she needed a mobile vet urgently. It isn’t hard to imagine who came off second best.
On arrival unfortunately the maltese terrier was already dead with only a small puncture wound on the side of the chest. Though it was unlikely to help we tried a few minutes of CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) but there was obviously too much internal damage and bleeding for it to be of any use.
The women received several cuts and abrasions to her head while trying to prize the maltese out of the rottis mouth, and even with the owner of the rotti there also trying to get the dog’s jaw to open it was impossible.
Of-course this is a terrible tragedy, not only for the maltese, but also for the owner of the maltese who is away overseas on a much needed holiday and the family have decided not to tell her until she returns.
There are, however, many things that can be learned from these kind of events, and I’m sure everyone has had some experience of this that could easily have turned out as badly.
Remember that dogs are unpredictable
Firstly, dogs are very unpredictable, no matter how well you may think you know your dog or a friend’s dog. In fact, the loyal and beautiful labrador has one of the highest incidences of dog attacks, not something most people are aware of.
In any situation where there are several dogs together no matter how friendly they are, there is always the potential for a fight. Remember they are pack animals instinctively and may decide at any time to try to “move up the ladder” as they will always be sorting out the order within the pack, even if we don’t realise it.
Sometimes the little dogs are very vocal. I think some of them even think they’re rottweilers in a chihuahua’s body, which must be very frustrating for them! In any situation like this they must be constantly supervised to try to diffuse a potential dangerous situation before it occurs.
It is dangerous to break up a dog fight
Secondly if a fight does occur, although our instinct is often to go in and try to separate them, I would strongly urge against this. This is a very dangerous situation where serious injuries can occur.
The women in charge of these dogs had several small wounds to her head but this could have been much more serious for her resulting in major injuries, and possibly life threatening. Even a small dog’s jaw is very powerful, let alone any of the larger breeds and it is nearly impossible to open it once it is locked on in a fight. Dogs already engaged in a fight are not going to discriminate between their “target” and any other dog or person that decides to intervene.
If it is possible, throwing a bucket of water over the dogs may help, or anything that will shock them into letting go for example a very loud noise or similar. In some circumstances you simply have to wait until it is over which unfortunately may be too late. As is obvious, it is always best to try to reduce the chance of the fight occurring in the first place.
Some people advocate for treating our pets as naturally as possible, giving them more latitude to “be themselves” as if they were in the wild. This is a lovely sentiment but unfortunately not, I believe, the best attitude.
There is nothing natural about having a dog in our lounge room, on the couch or the bed, or even in our back yards. They make beautiful companions, and I would be the first to advocate for keeping a pet but with it comes very large responsibilities.
If we are going to keep them in a human social environment then we must take full responsibility for both their welfare and the welfare of people around them. This includes monitoring at all times, more so in a group situation with other dogs or people, especially young children.
This also includes, and possibly more controversially for some, desexing them as puppies. Some people claim this is very unnatural and not necessary but as I have already stated neither is keeping an animal in our house at all. Desexing is a large part of behaviour management, more so for the male dogs and I believe one of the major responsibilities of pet ownership.
There are many more issues that can be discussed about this matter so if you’d like to chat to me about it, don’t hesitate to contact me on 0407 434 912 or through the
enquiry form on this page.
As usual please have a “surf” through my website as there is a lot of interesting information about our mobile veterinary services.
There are also some other great stories and vet information in my other blog articles. Hope you enjoy…………..