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Dogs And Delivery People

Dogs and Mailmen (or UPS guys, FedEx gals, or any delivery person for that matter...) For many people, picturing their dog and a delivery person at the front door instantly conjures up images of a traditional cartoon dog chasing the letter carrier down the street. Thankfully, most real-life dogs don’t actually chase delivery people nearly as often as they do in cartoons, but people are still often left asking, “Why do dogs hate mailmen?” Whereas I was always asking, “Why are my adult dogs tearing apart my mail? My REALLY important mail?!”

Then the other day I had a revelation. I was checking out at the vet with my 3-legged Elderbull, The Captain Man, when the UPS delivery person came right up to the counter to drop off a package. To my amazement, Captain did not flinch. Now, if we had been at home, he would have sprinted to the front door (3 legs and all) and barked like a crazy banshee. I said out loud in disbelief, “Wow, Cap. You’re so much nicer to UPS here then you are at home.” One of the Vet technicians overheard me and said something quite enlightening that I can’t help but share. She explained that when your dog is at home, he acts as the guardian to your house. His house. In his mind, it is often his job to protect you, your family, and your home.

So, when someone comes to the front door, he barks to alert you. Next, the person deposits the package or mail, turns around, and walks away from the house. In a dog’s mind, he made the person turn and walk away. Do you see the connection? The dog, who originally started out barking simply because someone was approaching, is now under the impression that his courageous barking scared the mysterious stranger away! He doesn’t realize that the person would be leaving regardless to continue to the next stop on the delivery route. So, every time someone comes to the door, delivers a package and leaves, he thinks: job well done! It often has nothing to do with the actual person, his or her uniform, delivery truck, etc.

Of course, humans don’t have to sit idly by and allow this pattern to develop into full on mayhem, as I did for 11 years. If your dog is beginning to take issue with your mailman, you can work with your dog on some basic obedience to correct the barking. It can also be very helpful to bring your pet outside on a leash to meet and socialize with the mail carrier before things get to a dangerous level. If it has gotten out of control, I recommend consulting a professional trainer. Of course, you can also do what I did after losing one too many important letters (photo of said debacle included above), which was to install an exterior mailbox, instead of using a mail slot through the front door. Ahhh, relief for all!


Alumni Coordinator
Proud Mom of Captain & Molly (featured above)