Why do dogs bark at the mailman?

Sometimes it seems like dogs just have an intense hatred for the mailman — or the UPS driver, or the FedEx driver or pretty much any package delivery person who stops by the house. Many dogs leap toward the door or the window, barking endlessly. If they got out of the house or out of the yard, it feels like they would attack immediately.

This does happen. Mail carriers face some serious risks from unrestrained pets. A bite can lead to significant injuries, scarring and the need for emergency medical treatment. When you consider that people die every year in dog attacks, you can easily understand why the mailman feels a bit nervous.

So, why does this happen? Why do dogs feel so negatively about delivery workers, rather than getting used to them over time?

The dog’s territory

First off, you have to understand that the dog believes it is simply protecting the territory that its pack controls. It thinks it is helping. This is why, even when the owner tells the dog to be quiet, the dog keeps barking. It may even fear that the owner simply hasn’t recognized the threat.

Return trips

It does not help that the mailman comes back every day. The dog feels stressed out whenever that person shows up, but this is followed by a sense of accomplishment and relief when the person leaves. The dog does not understand that the delivery person had no intention of coming inside your home and believes that it scared the person away.

When that person shows up again the next day, the dog believes they’re just probing the area and looking for a way to get in. Dogs may become progressively more frustrated and riled up. If a dog finally gets a chance to physically approach the mail person, it may bite because it feels like barking alone is not working.

Creatures of habit

Like humans, dogs are creatures of habit. They reach a point where they expect the mailman to approach and they expect to have to “chase” that person away. This ingrained habit means they plan to do it every day, with escalating tension, and may even bark at related things — like the sound of the delivery truck on the street.

After a bite

What dog owners must realize is that some dogs cannot control their own actions. They do not understand the situation. They think they are helping to protect the pack, not attacking an innocent postal worker. The same goes for joggers, children playing on the sidewalk and anyone else who comes near the house.

Owners have to protect these people with fences, leashes and other such methods. When they are negligent and a bite does happen, those who get hurt need to know exactly what legal options they have.

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