How To Call a Truce Between Your Dog and Mail Carrier

Kate Barrington
by Kate Barrington
February 4 is “Thank a Mailman Day.” And what better way to thank your mail carrier than to teach your dog to properly greet this daily guest.

Does your dog bark at the mailman? But is he all bark, or does he bite? Each year, thousands of mail carriers are bitten by dogs, and there isn’t always someone to blame. Why do dogs bite mail carriers and what can you do to prevent it from happening?

Why do Dogs Bite Mail Carriers?

In 2015, USPS announced that over 6,500 employees had been attacked over the course of the year. The most dog bites (77) occurred in Houston, TX, and the lowest number (15) was tied between New Orleans, Omaha, Des Moines, and Toledo. But why exactly do dogs bite mail carriers? Understanding the reason behind this problem is the key to finding a solution.

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Every day, mail carriers are expected to carry out their duties in delivering the mail. They may not have the choice to simply stop delivering mail to a certain house if there is a dog there. Some dogs do no more than bark or growl, but some take things a little bit further, going so far as to lunge at the mail carrier or to attack him outright.

From a dog’s perspective, the mail carrier is invading the dog’s space and trespassing on his territory – he doesn’t respond to repeated warnings. As such, some dogs respond out of fear – this may partially be related to the fact that mail carriers lug around large bags. In some way, mail carriers are perceived as a threat to some dogs and that causes them to react.

Tips for Preventing Dog Bites

Mail carriers go through various types of training to prepare them for their job. In their training, mail carriers are taught to identify aggressive behavior and to use their mail bag for defense, when necessary. Some mail carriers carry treats with them to bribe dogs, but that can sometimes backfire – the dog might smell the treats and go after the carrier to get them.

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The USPS has implemented other strategies to help prevent dog bites as well. As of May 13, 2016, customers who use the Package Pickup service will be asked to indicate whether there is a dog at their address. It will also eventually come to pass that when the carrier scans a package to confirm delivery, that it will also tell them if a dog is present in the home.

As a dog owner, it is your responsibility to make sure that he doesn’t hurt anyone. Even the gentlest dog can become scared or feel threatened enough to attack a stranger. If you aren’t sure how your dog is going to respond to a mail carrier, put him in another room before you open the door to accept a package and consider keeping the curtains closed until after the mail has been delivered so he isn’t triggered.

Kate Barrington
Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor's degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.

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