The most recent statistics for dog bites have been released and in California, the news isn’t good. Not only is the Golden State one of the top states for dog bites overall, it’s also the number one state for dog attacks on mail carriers. In 2020, there were 656 dog attacks on mailmen in California compared to 368 attacks in Texas, the state that came in second. These numbers beg the question, why do some dogs seem to hate mail carriers? According to experts, here’s why.
They’re Defending Their Home
It should come as no surprise that dogs are territorial. Once their home is established, they will do what they think needs to be done to protect it. Dogs view mail carriers, and probably other visitors to your house, as intruders. Most dog attacks are born from fear or pain, so if your dog is not in any pain and still chases after the mailman, it’s probably afraid of them or at least is in fear that the mail carrier intends them or their territory harm.
The most territorial dog breeds include some of the same breeds that have contributed to the most dog bites in the past few years. For example, rottweilers are extremely territorial and have caused the deaths of 51 people in the U.S. between 2005 and 2015. Bullmastiff dogs and German shepherds are other dogs that make both lists.
They’re Trained That Their Bark Sends the Mail Carrier Away
Even though their actions don’t actually chase the mail carrier away from their home, dogs think they do. After all, at about the same time every day, this stranger comes into their territory and when the dog starts barking, they leave. The dog feels like it’s appropriately protected its home, but it comes off as an aggressiveness to the mail carrier that probably isn’t appreciated.
This learned behavior can then transfer to any stranger who comes to the door or when the dog sees another mail carrier while out on a walk. They will smell the familiar scents that are associated with your mail carrier and respond in the same way. In fact, meeting a mail carrier while out on a walk can be even more dangerous for the mailman because there isn’t a house or fence separating them from the dog. As such, be sure to guide your dog away from any mail person you might encounter when in public.
Rescued dogs often tend to be more aggressive toward mail carriers than other dogs because they have bad memories of people in uniforms coming to their homes. Animal control officers also dress in uniform and carry something (a leash or a cage) to the door. The dog can’t differentiate between the two types of people and so they lash out at the mailman, even if, day after day, the mailman never comes into the house or even tries to take the dog away.
Whatever the reason is behind your dog’s dislike of the mail carrier, there are some things you can do to make them more comfortable. Try introducing your dog to the mail carrier and establishing a relationship between the two. Leave a note for the mail carrier telling them your dog’s name so they can assure the dog they’re friendly. These steps will help alleviate your dog’s stress and keep the mail carrier safe.