Dogs that have severe fighting problems with other dogs are the ones that cause their owners the most worry. It is this vice that many owners hope a psychiatrist will be able to probe and cure, but since this is the process of investigating into the past of a dog’s mind, which cannot be probed because the dog cannot answer questions, no progress can be made with psychiatry.
That does not mean we cannot understand a dog’s present state of mind. Although past events might have had disastrous effects on the dog and might have affected his mind and emotional makeup, it would have to be the owner who is psychoanalyzed to find the answer to the dog’s problems. But because few owners would have the nerve or sense to go to a human doctor to find out why their dogs fight, I think we can leave out this subject too.
A dog fights for several reasons, usually the right to survive, whether this be taken as the right to eat and live peaceably or simply that the dog wants to live up to a certain standard whereby he has no enemies or neighbors that irritate him. We do not know which motive fits each individual case. What we do know is that dogs pretend to fight in play, mauling each other in a rough and tumble which nobody minds. Puppies have mock fights all the time to strengthen their limbs and develop their jaws and to wear off their superabundance of energy, but the subject we are looking at here is serious dog fighting, which is dangerous for dogs and humans and has been known to end in death for the smaller and weaker dog.
Even if the fight is not so bad as to end in death it can cause the owner of a dog to have a heart attack from fear or people can be bitten. It is most unpleasant and terrifying, to say the least. Most people don’t realize it takes only a minute for two dogs to get really to grips, before that they are playing for a hold. Therefore, when you go to separate a dogfight, there is no need to rush in and be bitten. It is far safer to watch at close range until you can safely get a hold of a collar or of the loose skin between the eyes of the dog.
Once a dog has got a hold on another dog, it is unlikely that he will turn around and bite you for to do so he would have to release the other dog. You are reasonably safe when it has got a hold in slipping a lead on or grabbing the choke chain or scruff. It is generally useless beating the dogs in a dogfight; they would be mentally unaware of pain at that moment, and unless you knocked either dog out you would not separate them once either had a real hold.