If you’re a dog trainer with an interest in rehabbing dog aggression……
Please. Throw the “Break Stick” away.
Look, I know why you have them. It’s a logical mistake to make.
You want to break up a fight that involves at least one committed dog. (a concern you NEED to address if you work in rehab). Well….. Who has the most experience in breaking the toughest dogs apart? Dog fighters.
If a dog gets fanged in a pit, the ref breaks them. If a dog in a roll (practice fight sparring match) starts to get hurt, you break them. Hell, if there’s a management failure in the yard and two dogs get going, you break them. These guys have hands down THE MOST EXPERIENCE breaking game dogs.
How do THEY do it?
Ergo….. You want to break game dogs fighting. You use a Break Stick, no?
Yes….. They are effective. IF……
You have 3 people to the 2 dogs.
One handler goes in for hind leg suspension (another pass down from the pit) on each dog. This kills their ability to punch back in and re-grip. That’s good. It means, All you have to deal with is the current grip. The 3rd, (and sometimes 4th) person, go in and use the break stick to mechanically separate the grips. And it works! Well. It breaks the dogs.
So…. Why should you NOT use it?
1- Most people didn’t know that above scenario. They just stick a break stick in their pocket and will somehow utilize it to make things OK. They don’t understand the 3 to 2 principle. They don’t know or practice that teamwork concept of “wheelbarrow” and split. If you aren’t in a yard with multiple trained, people all, of who have Break Sticks in their pockets. All of who, know the drill and can fluently assume one role or the other in rhythm with you…. It’s worthless. Trying to separate a game dog (let alone 2) by yourself with a Break Stick is futile, and dangerous for ALL involved.
2- Even IF you understand AND practice the above method with ALL your staff (shut the fuck up, no you don’t)…….
YOU STILL SHOULDN’T USE BREAK STICKS!!!!!!
When you use a Break Stick you are mechanically separating the dogs. Ever hear of “Restraint Frustration”? “Barrier Frustration”? Well, when a dog is in HIGH DRIVE, and wants to get at something and can’t, it’s drive goes UP!!!!!
Think about it. Leashes make dogs more reactive. Fences make dogs more reactive. On, and on. Those are things preventing them from accomplishing their goal. And it makes them want to go at it more.
Hell, that reaction is so strong, that trainers utilize it. We tease dogs with food to increase drive for it. We try to wrestle the tug out of their mouth to make them want to grip it harder the next time!
When you pry their mouth off that dog….. Guess what they want to do MORE now?!?!?!
And THAT’S why the Pit men used them. It’s the only way to reliably separate a game dog and NOT DIMINISH IT’S WANT TO FIGHT!
Hell, it increases their drive to fight through frustration. And for Pit men, that’s a good thing.
For you, in your home. Or daycare. Or rehab facility……. Not so much.
So unless you’re looking for a tool that takes more dogs than handlers acting in coordination, that INCREASES aggression after the fight…….
Throw the Break Sticks away.
(How TO break a fight is a tricky and dangerous subject that can’t really be done in an article. But check the services page for avenues of instruction.)