You know as soon as your mail carrier is coming, because your dog gets excited and starts barking at your front door or mailbox. Your dog may bark when other people approach your property as well, but perhaps he has a special bark reserved for the mail carrier.
What is it about this person that causes your dog to become so hyped up? Let's take a look at some of the reasons.
The mail carrier keeps coming back
Unlike a one-time visitor or someone walking on your lawn, the mail carrier keeps coming back day after day. Your dog may have barked the first few times the mail carrier came to your front door, but now he sees that his barking didn't work, and the carrier just keeps returning.
He is going to try different methods, and may even become more aggressive when the mail carrier arrives. He might bare his teeth, jump up and down, or scratch the front door when the mail carrier is there. This kind of behavior is destructive and may even be dangerous if your dog is getting too out of hand. For example, your dog could ruin your property, or turn his aggression on a person or another dog in the room. You'll have to take the proper steps to train him not to act this way just because the mail carrier is there.
When your dog is barking at the mail carrier or at the front door or mailbox when he hears someone on your property, he is exhibiting territorial behavior. He'll let out what's called an alarm bark to alert you as to what is happening.
Though you want to feel as if your dog is protecting you, if you live in an area where neighbors walk by frequently or you're in a busy apartment building, it can become quite exhausting to hear your dog barking so much. It may even get you in trouble with your fellow tenants or landlord. There are ways, thankfully, to treat this territorial behavior and cut back on the barking.
How to get your dog to stop barking at the mail carrier
Dogs hate mail carriers simply because they're trying to protect you. If they are alarm barking and/or becoming destructive, you can curb this behavior with a training technique.
Have a friend come to your front door or mailbox a few times and act like a mail carrier. If your dog starts barking as your friend approaches, hold up some dog treats that he will love. Then, once he stops barking, tell him "quiet" and reward him with the treat. You can train your dog that not barking results in receiving a yummy treat if you repeat this technique a dozen or so times.
Another step you can take is covering your windows and playing white noise when your mail carrier is going to arrive. You can have your dog sit and give him tasty dog treats if he remains calm.
It's best to train your dog when he is still a puppy, but it is possible to change the behavior when he's an adult, too, if you are persistent and use repetition to reinforce positive associations.
Safety precautions to take
Mail carriers are so used to getting barked at that some now wear jackets that tell owners to restrain their dogs. According to the U.S. Postal Service, dogs attacked nearly 6,000 employees in 2018. To avoid hurting a mail carrier and a possible lawsuit, there are some precautions you can take.
If you're having trouble restraining your dog and training him to stop barking, then put him in a separate room when the mail carrier comes. Usually, the mail carrier will arrive at your house around the same time every day, and you'll be able to determine exactly when your dog should go into another room. According to the U.S. Postal Service, some dogs jump through screen doors and even plate glass windows to attack unwanted visitors, so taking that extra step of putting him somewhere else entirely will help.
Of course, you should make sure that your dog inside the house whenever the mail carrier is set to arrive. Don't leave him in the front yard or near a doggy door unattended. Also, never collect the mail directly from the carrier in front of your dog, as your dog could view this as a threatening gesture.
If your dog is repeatedly left outside and barks at or attempts to harm your mail carrier, the U.S. Postal Service could refuse to visit your house, and instead have you pick up your mail at a local Post Office instead. By taking the time to train your pup and teach him that the mail carrier is not his enemy, you can avoid this inconvenient – or even a much worse – situation down the line.