Why some dogs hate the mailman

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My husband has lost count of the number of times he has been bitten by dogs.  Most of these bites were by dogs whose owners claimed their dogs didn’t bite; all of these bites could have –should have – been prevented by the dog’s owner, and easily.  We’re lucky that most of his dog encounters have been minor, but he’s had a few serious scares that left him quite shaken.  Nothing triggers the fight-or-flight response quite like a dog charging, barking, growling and trying to bite.

What has my husband done to incur so many dog bites?  He doesn’t even work with dogs.  He drives a big brown truck and delivers packages.

Many dogs don’t like delivery guys (and gals)

For my husband and many others – mail carriers, Fed Ex drivers, UPS drivers – being bitten and threatened by dogs is a regular thing. It shouldn’t be. The U.S. Postal Service reported 5,879 bites of postal employees in 2012.  5,879 bites that could have been prevented by simply confining or controlling one’s dog.  Part of owning a dog is taking responsibility for it, and keeping it from injuring or threatening others, including delivery people.

Why some dogs don’t like the mailman

Any dog can bite when they feel threatened. Biting is a dog’s next line of defense when body language, barking, and growling don’t work.  Even though a dog has never bitten anyone before, that doesn’t mean he never will.  Even if he doesn’t bite, he could still terrify someone. A delivery person approaching the house could definitely feel threatening to the dog, especially if it’s a new delivery person. It’s no excuse for the dog to bite, but the dog’s not being vicious for no reason – he’s feeling threatened and responding by biting.

It’s more than just protecting the delivery guys – it’s protecting your dog as well

There are a number of reasons why it’s a good idea to keep your dog from chasing the delivery guy or girl beyond just not biting the delivery person. If your dog can get to the delivery person, your dog could likely also run into the street.  If the delivery guy (or girl) thinks a dog is a real threat, he might injure the dog while trying to defend himself, or he might injure himself while trying to get away from the dog.  And if your dog were to injure the delivery person, your dog may be labeled dangerous or vicious and ordered to be euthanized, or you could be sued.  Then there’s common courtesy.  Dogs can be terrifying.  Do you really want your dog frightening the hardworking person who is trying to bring you a package?

What can you do to protect your dog AND your delivery person

  • Understand that even if your dog “doesn’t bite,” your delivery person doesn’t know that, and telling them that your dog doesn’t bite won’t make them feel any better.  They’ve heard it before.
  • Don’t allow your dog access to delivery people.  Keep your dog in your house or in a secure fenced enclosure so they’re unable to greet the mail carrier or UPS or Fed Ex driver.
  • Don’t leave your dog unattended in an unfenced yard when you’re expecting mail or packages.  Electronic fences offer no protection to a delivery person who must bring a package to your door.
  • Leash your dog when you open the door, or place him in a crate or in another room.
  • Be especially careful if you have small children and your dog likes to bolt out the door.  A child can easily open a door to try to be helpful and accidentaly let a dog out.

Mail carriers and UPS and Fed Ex drivers work very hard.  Imagine delivering packages to over 200 stops a day, or delivering mail to many times that number of houses.  Don’t let your dog hurt them or add to their work stress.  Protect your delivery people, and protect your dogs, by taking these simple precautions.

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