Does your dog go crazy when someone comes to your house to make a delivery? Have you had to deal with any incidents of jumping, nipping or biting?
As a pet owner, here’s what you need to know:
- Your dog’s behavior is your responsibility
- You should carry homeowners insurance
- Mail carriers have the right to carry and use pepper spray, or even refuse to deliver if a dog is deemed a real threat.
Thankfully, there are ways to make sure your dog doesn’t become a statistic…or get you into legal trouble! Let’s explore this in a question and answer format.
Why is my dog aggressive towards the mailman?es From his perspective, perhaps he sees the carrier’s daily visit as an invasion into his territory. Your dog barks and growls and the mailman quickly leaves, just like an intruder would when caught. And then he comes back the very next day to try again! This is a challenge to your dog’s repeated warnings!
If you have a mailman that tries to be assertive, that can actually made the dog even more mad. Or when the “intruder” turns his back to walk away, a fearful dog may get a boost of confidence and see this as an easy opportunity to go on the attack.
Isn’t it best to just get rid of the dog?
There’s no need to send your buddy packing after a minor incident. The “one bite and you’re out” policy can be completely unfair and unrealistic. Do we say that about cats? “One scratch and it’s goodbye.” I don’t care if you have the sweetest, oldest and most laid-back basset hound on God’s green Earth, he’s a dog, and any dog can bite given the right set of circumstances.
And that’s what matters most when it comes to assessing whether Fido should go or stay. The circumstances. Take it on a case by case basis. If a good-natured dog nipped at your child because he got his tailed yanked while eating, it would be unfair to say the dog was at fault or to assert that because he nipped “he’s not a good dog.”
So how can I prevent encounters?
Be realistic about dog behavior. That includes protecting visitors from potential aggression.
Here are a few practical things you can do:
- Get a bigger mailbox. If your mail carrier is having to get out of the truck and hand you packages on a regular basis, save him and your dog from a scuffle by installing a larger box that will hold parcels. And even if you have your dog confined, the daily episodes of growling and barking may be really getting on your nerves. Having a bigger box close to the road means your dog may never even be aware when deliveries are made. Peace for everyone!
- Get a post office box. This might be a good solution if you live in a rural area where free-roaming and livestock dogs are more common.
- Properly restrain your dog. For an inside dog, this is simple. Isolate him in a room with the door closed when the doorbell rings. Don’t assume that just because you’re answering the door, there won’t be an incident. Dogs, even “well trained” ones, have been known to rush right past their owner to attack a visitor, completely ignoring a command to STOP. Outside dogs can be kept in a fenced enclosure or a pen. At our mailman’s request, we keep Jasper inside for the short period of time that the mail route is run on our street. If we won’t be home for a long period of time, he goes inside until we return.
- Take time to socialize him. Carefully introduce your dog to different people and situations so that he’ll be more calm and sociable. This is especially important for rescues or animals whose past history is unknown.
- Confine the dog and assess the victim’s condition. Call 911 if injuries are very serious.
- Apologize profusely to the victim and talk reasonably with him. He may be understandably angry or upset so wait until things are calm to have a fruitful discussion.
- Ask what you can do to make things right. If your dog was previously allowed to roam without restriction, assure the victim that you will confine him in the future. Give the victim your number and express a willingness to rectify in whatever way you can.
- Unless you personally witnessed cruelty or misconduct on the part of the visitor DO NOT try to exonerate your dog. Telling a victim “he never bites” or “he’s really well trained” will accomplish nothing.
- Do not file a claim with your homeowner’s insurance company if you do not have to. This may raise your rates.
- If there have been multiple incidents with your dog despite preventative measures, consider professional assistance, or re-homing the dog to a qualified and knowledgeable person or rescue organization.
How does your dog react to strangers and delivery personnel? What are some tips you have for prevention and remediation?