Breaking Sticks
What is a Break Stick?

If you've travelled in Pit Bull circles for any length of time, you've
probably heard mention of something termed a "breaking stick" or
"break stick". This is a safety item every Pit Bull owner should
possess. It is a hammer handle-sized piece of sturdy material (usually
wood, but sometimes fiberglass) with a handle end and a flat, wedge-
shaped end. This tool is used to break a Pit Bull off of another dog
during a fight should such an unfortunate event occur. The flat end of
then twisted to pop the jaw open and allow for enough leverage to
pull the Pit Bull off of the other dog without doing damage to either
dog.

Break sticks have a negative connotation because they are often
associated with dog fighters. However, responsible owners keep this
tool around in the event an accidental fight should occur. By using a
break stick, a Pit Bull can be broken off of another dog quickly and
safely, assuring as few injuries as possible.

Unfortunately, some areas consider break sticks to be "dog fighting
paraphernalia". Such a tool can actually be used as proof of illegal
activity. A single breaking stick in a home with one or two house Pit
Bulls owned by a responsible person would not pose much of an
issue. However, coupled with suspicious activity, a break stick or two
could certainly be used against an owner in court. For this reason, it
is wise to keep your break stick under wraps. Don't advertise it's
presence, and recognize that it is a necessary tool for emergency
purposes only. It is not something to brag about or present to just
anyone.

Why a break stick is necessary:

Even the most well-behaved, docile Pit Bull could potentially find itself
in a fight one day. Because of the strength of the jaws of a Pit Bull,
once they've secured a hold on another dog they are tenacious and
difficult to force to release. A break stick can quickly and easily help
you get a Pit Bull to release another dog. Contrary to popular myth,
this does NOT prove that Pit Bull's have locking jaws. Pit Bulls simply
have a tenacity to hold on, and the break stick gives the owner
leverage to get a stubborn dog's jaws open.

A break stick would be most valuable in a home with two or more
dogs when one of those dogs is a Pit Bull. Accidental fights can and
do happen to the best of owners. A break stick is preparation and a
safety precaution. There is nothing scarier than a dog fight, except
perhaps the inability to break one up.

Hopefully, the only time a break stick would ever be necessary is for
an accidental fight within your own home. However, because of the
irresponsibility of other owners, there is always the possibility for a
fight outside of the home with a strange, loose dog. Because of the
negative association with dog fighting, carrying a break stick with you
at all times can pose problems. It can be used as proof that you knew
your dog was aggressive, and as stated previously, in some areas
break sticks are considered fighting paraphernalia and therefore are
illegal. You must with the risks with the benefits of carrying a break
stick with you outside your home. If you live in an area where the
odds of running into a loose dog are next to nothing, leaving the
break stick at home may be the safest bet. However, if the areas you
usually walk you dog in mean high probability of a fight, keeping the
break stick with you may be more prudent an idea. And if at all
possible, keep your dog away from areas where off leash dogs are
known to frequent. Try to avoid trouble at all costs.

Do's and Don't's of Break Sticks:

  • Do keep a break stick handy in the home where you can easily
    access it should a fight break out. By the door to the yard and
    in the kitchen are possible choices.
  • Do familiarize yourself with the stick and how to use it BEFORE
    you actually every do need to use it.
  • Should you need to use your break stick, straddle the Pit Bull
    from behind, clasp your knees around its waist. Use one hand
    to steady the dog's head (hold onto the scruff or collar) and
    the other hand to insert the flat end of the break stick into the
    far corner of the Pit Bull's mouth (at the gap between the back
    of the jaw and the molars). Twist the stick and as soon as you
    gain leverage, pull the dogs apart (the second dog should be
    tied to a sturdy object before hand, if possible, especially if the
    second dog is a Pit Bull).
  • Do realize that a break stick used on two Pit Bulls equally
    engaged in a fight may not be advantageous.
  • Do understand the limitations of the break stick and have
    alternate methods at your disposal.
  • Do not use a break stick on breeds other than the Pit Bull.

For more information on breaking up a fight, and preventing one to
begin with, please see Management & Care.

Where to get a break stick:
www.PBRC.net (proceeds go to rescue).