Breaking Up a Dog Fight Between Pyrs

by Linda Weisser

ATTENTION!

4 notices for New Pyr Owners

  1. Pyr are addictive - betcha can't own just one
  2. Pyrs are fighters - males and females
  3. Pyrs have been known to kill each other
  4. You will not be the first person to escape this reality

Probably everyone would agrees with #1 above. How they feel about 2,3 and 4depends up their experience and length of time in the breed. However, a lackof understanding of, and belief in, those facts can lead to serious andtraumatic situations for the unsuspecting and uninformed owner.

Pyrs can be (and often are) dog aggressive. They are dominant and territorialby nature and it is these qualities that make them effective livestock guards. A Pyr simply won't allow any animal on its territory that is not submissiveto it. Since Pyrs (and especially males) do not submit to any animal, anencounter between two Pyrs on the same territory can be violent and bloody.

"Oh no!" I hear the cries of horror. "Not our kindly, gentle, patientfriends". Oh yes, and to try to ignore this simple reality is to courtdisaster.

Let me be clear at the outset that dog/dog aggression and dog/peopleaggression are two totally different things. A dog-aggressive Pyr does nothave a bad temperament, a people-aggressive Pyr does. A stable Pyr clearlydifferentiates between the two. An owner could take a Pyr who has been intenton dismembering a rival and within minutes of the encounter entrust thetiniest baby (human or animal) to its patient care. Owners who get bitten indog fights are bitten because they put their bodies between dogs intent onbiting each other. If you have ever seen the look on the face of a Pyr whohas bitten a human in the heat of battle, you will see a dog filled withremorse and embarrassment.

Pyr bitches are somewhat better than males. As a general rule two adult malePyrs will never live together in harmony. Certain bitches will, while othersabsolutely will not. Be aware that really aggressive bitches can be moresingle-minded than males. Male Pyrs will almost never beat up a bitch andwork very hard not to respond to an attack by one. Pyr bitches will beat upon males. However, cross-sex fights seldom result in serious injuries.

It may take several years before two dogs really go after each other. We oncehad a father-son combination who co-existed until the son was almost two yearsold; then his sire jumped him.Once you have had one serious encounter that goes beyond growling and bullying,and both dogs participate, it is all over. You will never be able to havethose dogs together again with any safety. Sometimes the day comes muchearlier - often before the younger animal is a year old.

There is no doubt that in many cases of aggression, if you let the dogs fightit out, they would 'settle' it. However, the damage could be fearful and theymight main each other permanently. I know of 3 cases in which one dog died ofthe injuries sustained in such a fight.

Constant vigilance is the price of "peace", and prevention is the only answer; secure fences, secure locks, and attention to detail.

My own personal key to avoiding trouble is to assume that everything willfight with everything else of the same sex until proven otherwise.

Try to be alert to signs of impending problems. Two bitches together wherethe younger begins dominance behavior with the older (i.e. standing with herhead and neck over the other's back; stiff legged, tail up approaches; littlegrowls; body checks for no apparent reason.)

These are all signals the youngster is testing her place. Either the olderbitch will turn on her or the younger will launch a full out attack the minuteshe senses that she has the upper hand. The ensuing battle may be brief andbloodless or it may be a true fight. Be aware that it is coming.

So, if in a moment of distraction, you forget the "secure fences, securelocks, attention to detail" maxim and you look out of your window and see twomortal enemies stalking around each other, what then? DO NOT GO OUT TO THEDOGS. You have the slight chance that they will decide not to fight. If youstep out the door you will alter the balance of power and you will have afight. It is important to understand that your very presence will oftenchange the dynamics enough to cause two dogs to fight. If they do fight youwill need to do something about it then, but try to avoid precipitating it.

This leads us to the next step. How do you break up a fight? 'TAIN'T EASY.Keep in mind that you want to avoid being bitten and that the dogs willprobably not do each other much damage in the first few minutes of the fight,so take the time to do it right. Screaming will not work (except to releaseyour tensions) and water hoses don't work. Large objects such as shovels willwork only if you knock someone unconscious!

If you are fortunate you will have two people present. Each person should getbehind a dog and grab the tail and hang on for dear life. Slowly pull thedogs away from each other. At this point you may realize that one has an irongrip on some part of the other--usually the head (lips, ears, dewlaps etc.)Do not pull violently or something will get torn. Hold on and keep constantpressure until the dog lets go and then drag them rapidly backward away fromeach other. Do not let go or you will have to repeat the process! Take myword for it that the dogs will not turn on you. If you have a third personpresent (kids are good for this) and one dog has a grip on the other, havethe third person rap the grabber hard across the bridge of the muzzle--theedge of a dog food dish works well for this. Most of the time the dog willlet go in pain and surprise. Once the dogs are separated, drag at least oneof them into a secure kennel. Do not, under any circumstances, put any partof your anatomy between two fighting dogs--you will get bitten.

Now, suppose that the true horror scenario occurs and you are alone? thecardinal rule still applies--do not get between the dogs. Rule #2 - Do NotPanic!! Do not waste time and energy screaming!! the only way to break upthis fight is to immobilize one of the contestants. Accept the fact that theywill continue to fight and injure each other while you are readying yourselfto end the battle. The following has worked well for me: take a leash, catchit around the loin of one of the dogs and then pull the latch end through thehandle end and create a lariat-like affair around the dog. (Note: this takespatience and should be done deliberately; without panic.) Once you have thelariat in place, drag both snapping snarling animals backwards until you getto something solid (gate, fence etc.) and tie or snap the leash to it.Voila--one dog immobilized. Go to the rear of the other, grab the tail andproceed as above. Get one dog kenneled before you release the second.

Now the most important part of all. Go to your house, pour a large cup orglass of whatever soothes you best, collapse on the couch, and blubber untilyour heart beats normally again!!

With any degree of luck, this will be a once in a lifetime experience. ifnot, at least you will know what to do. Do, however, try to avoid "practicemakes perfect" !!

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