What to do if your dog is attacked by another dog

Posted by Argos, 12 March 2020, last updated 1 November 2022.

Let’s face it, animals can be unpredictable creatures at times. As a result, it’s important to know what to do should you find yourself in the position of a dog attack. There’s no one-size-fits-all response to this because no situation is the same. However, keeping calm and knowing how to help your pooch encourages a speedy recovery.

Here’s everything you need to know if your dog is attacked by another dog.

Why do dogs attack other dogs?

There are many reasons why a dog may show signs of aggression towards other dogs.

Firstly, a dog may have had a bad experience in the past, such as being attacked themselves. This can lead to them to be extremely wary of other dogs, and any behaviour towards them. Human actions such as neglect, abuse, or carelessness in their control can all increase signs of aggression in dogs.

In some cases, a dog may not have previously shown signs of aggression, but a situation may trigger them to become aggressive. For example, pain or other illnesses can make a normally placid dog become aggressive.

Some dogs just feel the need to show dominance, especially if their space is being violated. You may find dog on dog aggression because they feel threatened by other dogs, especially if they are bigger than them or are gaining attention from their owners. Although, it should be noted that unless they are feeling threatened, dogs do not naturally attack humans. According to Blue Cross, dogs might bite a human if they feel trapped, surprised, over-excited or are in pain.

Dogs play fighting vs real fighting

Two small dogs running together on a path at sunset

Dogs love to play with each other and toys, but the excitement of a new friend to play with can often result in rough play. However, dogs play fighting together is usually harmless. There are visible differences between dogs play fighting and a brawl. A good tip is to look at their tail; if it’s wagging and both dogs are happily leaping and bounding, they’re probably fine.

How do I know if a dog will attack?

There are a few behavioural signs you can look out for that can give a good indication that a dog may be about to attack.

Growling, snarling or baring their teeth

If a dog is growling, snarling or baring their teeth, this is the most obvious sign of aggression and that a dog is ready to bite or attack.


Similarly, if a dog is glaring at your dog, then they may be about to attack. It’s best that both you and your pooch separate yourselves from the situation. If a glaring dog is off their lead, make sure to put your dog on their lead and walk away.

Raised fur around their neck/back

If a dog’s fur around their neck or back is raised, it could be likely they are showing signs of fear and aggression. This is also known as ‘raised hackles’ and, although these are not always related to aggressive behaviour, it could be one to look out for if you notice play fighting is getting a little bit too rough.

The dog appears nervous

A less obvious sign that could lead to a dog lashing out is if they appear nervous. Signs of nervousness to look out for include:

  • Stiff body posture
  • Flattened ears against their head
  • Trembling or shaking

While this could be a sign of stress in a dog, if you or your pup do something the other dog isn’t comfortable with, they might attack. You should approach with caution, ensuring you and your pooch don’t get too close or overwhelm the other dog.

How to avoid a dog attack

The first step to help stop dogs fighting is by avoiding the situations where fights are likely to occur. The most important thing is to be aware of your surroundings, especially if other dogs are off their lead.

Close-up photograph of a Golden Retriever wearing a collar and lead stood in leaves outdoors

To reduce the risk of your dog being attacked when on a walk in the park, you should keep your dog on a lead. This can help prevent your dog from wandering over to a potentially aggressive dog, but also means you keep control over your pooch. Similarly, with your dog on a lead whilst on a walk, you can stop them from entering another dog’s territory.

Training your dog to understand basic commands can also help them stay by your side when instructed to. If your dog has a particular problem such as barking excessively, pulling on their lead or jumping up at strangers, these behaviours could trigger dogs to attack if they perceive them as dangerous. So, training your dog to be well-behaved in all social situations can help to avoid a dog attack.

How to train your dog to be more comfortable around other dogs

The best way to instil friendliness in your dog is to socialise them with other friendly dogs when they’re a puppy.

If your dog is socialising with friendly dogs from a young age, this should help feel more comfortable around other dogs and not want to attack them. Even if your dog is a little bit older, try to introduce them to another friendly dog or puppy in a controlled environment and gradually let them get used to having other dogs around.

You can always train your dog with a reward system when they are calm around other dogs.

Four dogs wearing leads held by one person, being trained together in a park

What to do if your dog is attacked by another dog

Knowing what to do during a dog attack can be difficult, we have some advice on how you can handle your dog being attacked, however it can vary depending on the situation.

  1. Stay calm – it is crucial not to panic or react loudly as this can make the situation worse.
  2. Don’t try to separate the dogs yourself – trying to push the other dog off may result in more serious injury.
  3. Try distracting the attacking dog from a distance – using a toy or dousing them with water can potentially distract them away from your dog.

If you chose to try pick up your dog it’s important to bear in mind that it could cause the other dog to jump up at you. Instead of putting your hands near the attacking dog or trying to pick up your dog, try putting a barrier between them if possible.

Report a dog attack

If your dog has been bitten or appears injured, seek medical attention from a veterinarian. Even a tiny nip can be vulnerable to getting infected. Keep in mind that dogs in pain may bite, so refrain from handling your dog too much. If they are capable of walking, let them.

If you or your dog is attacked by another dog, note down their size, colour, breed, collar, and any markings to report the attack to your local council as soon as possible.

Keeping your dog safe is your top priority. But, remember to protect yourself from unexpected vet bills with Argos Pet Insurance provided by Pinnacle Insurance plc. Explore our dog insurance policies today.

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