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Fights happen. Sled dogs have personalities that aren't always compatible... Is there a technique to breaking up a fight that will minimize risk of injury to both me and my dogs?

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Please leave a comment as to why if you feel compelled to down-vote... –  LBell Mar 3 '12 at 2:24
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Try getting their attention / distracting them with food, and then throw pieces in two separate directions. If the dogs are food motivated, they will go for the path of least resistance. They are fighting for dominance, to be sure, but many dogs will attend to that only after satisfying their instinctual desire for the food.

Additionally, if you have the dominance over them, they will respect you. You clearly don't want to get in between them while fighting, but by holding the food, you are reminding them who is in charge.

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Interesting thought. Is this from practical experience? I have found that fighting dogs don't really care much for food. And tossing out a chunk of meat will just serve to create another dog pile as the rest of the team lunges for it. –  LBell Mar 3 '12 at 1:14
    
Don't have sled dogs, but it does work on my 2 barn dogs. They're well-fed and not overly food motivated, but it distracts them enough to break up a fight. Truth be told, I do have to wave it around a bit to get their attention, which may fall under the "distraction' idea. –  Affable Geek Mar 15 '12 at 5:06
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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Since answers are not forthcoming - I'll share what I have learned works, but I'm still hoping someone has some better ideas:

Since dog fights are not the result of some deep-seated impassioned hatred for one another (dogs don't carry a grudge) separating the fighters is usually enough to break up the fight. They quickly forget what they were fighting about and move on.

Distraction A loud noise, such as the snap of belt against the sled, or a loud whistle can sometimes startle and distract fighting dogs momentarily, allowing you to pull one away from the other.

Dragging Grabbing a dog by its hind legs and pulling it away from the other dog can confuse it enough that it lets go. It might instinctively whip around to check you out, but assuming you have worked with these dogs, and they respect you, a quick "Hey!" will let it know who you are, and it won't bite you.

Controlled Pressure Using your foot to press down on one dog's neck and pin it to the snow while pulling the other up by the collar (lifting its front legs off the ground) is a way to regain control without injuring the dogs. This would be akin to your father putting his stern hand on your shoulder and pressing you down to get you under control as a child. NEVER kick a dog

This all assumes these dogs know you - and know you to be the benevolent dictator of the pack. Dogs run best if they respect their handler as the Alpha of the pack - not because they fear their handler. Thus there is no excuse for violence, beating, kicking or otherwise harming a dog.

Of course, prevention is the best course (keeping dominant males separate, correct placement of females in heat) but that is a topic for a different question.

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