How to Get Your Dog to Stop Barking at the Mail Carrier

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photo: Zanna Pesnina (Shutterstock)

The relationship between dogs and postmen is complex. As mean TV tropeit is often played for laughs, but for around 5,400 postal workers attacked by dogs in the US alone in 2021, it is a serious occupational hazard.

Of course, just because your dog barks at the mail delivery doesn’t mean he’ll attack, but it’s annoying and possibly nerve-wracking for you, your neighbors and your postman.

Here’s what you should know about getting your dog to stop this part of their daily routine, and why they’re so upset about mail and package delivery in the first place.

Why do dogs bark at the postman?

Even if your dog isn’t a breed known to be one guard or guard dog, they are probably still territorial and see it as their duty to protect their home and the people in it. And loud Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA), dogs learn early on to bark at what they mistake for an intruder to make this person Go away.

Enter: postmen and other delivery people. They come onto your property – usually to your door – drop off mail or a package and then immediately leave.

When your dog barks, he’ll start barking as soon as the delivery person arrives (or before that in some cases, if he can identify the sound of a USPS or FedEx truck braking, for example).), they’ll think their frantic barking made it – which is what prompted the postman to do it flee from their possessions– and that they have once again successfully defended their home and family.

But what is particularly delicate about this situation is that the postman probably comes to your house six days a week what, like the American Kennel Club (AKC) emphasizes, “provides the perfect training stimulus to reinforce this behavior.”

How to stop your dog from barking at the postman

After routinely get rid of the postman with their barkingYour dog is probably quite content with his ability to scare off this stubborn intruder – which unfortunately makes him difficult to stop.

Also as the MSPCA Noticesthis is a kind of “barking alarm” which is a natural behavior, and cannot be completely eliminated. However, it can be controlled. Here are some strategies you can try, courtesy of canine experts and animal behaviorists:

Have a “quiet” command

That MSPCA recommends Teach your dog a “quiet” command. To do this, have someone pass by your house or approach your house. trigger your dog to bark. After the dog has barked 3 or 4 times, show him a very special treat (like chicken, cheese, or another of his favorites). When they stop barking to get the treat, say “quiet” and then give them the treat.

Repeat this exercise until you’ve given your dog the “quiet” command and he’s stopped barking about a dozen times. Once your dog has mastered calming himself down with the treat, try using the command without showing him the treat and see if he stops barking. If so, enter the a treat as a reward.

Corresponding dr mary burchCertified Animal Behaviorist and Director of AKC Family Dog, the key here is to convince your dog that he’s getting the reward he’s getting Not reacting is more desirable than the satisfaction of barking away at their nemesis.

Put them to work

You can also try to give Give your dog a “job” to keep him occupied during this time daily mail delivery acc AKC experts. For example, some people train their dogs to grab a toy and go to another room when a postman approaches.

Of course, for some dogs, supplier barking is their top priority at this moment, so they may not be interested in toys or bogus jobs if they think they have one real work to do.

role playing game

A variation on the “quiet” command strategy that involves having someone your dog either doesn’t recognize or a friend of yours that he doesn’t particularly like. assume the role of a postman– Come to your door and (if applicable) shake your mailbox.

Every time the fake postman comes to the door, have your dog sit still for a treat. But here’s the difference: this time, let the backup postman stand at the door until the dog is quiet. The idea is to convince your dog that his barking is no longer an effective way to scare the intruder off his property and isn’t worth trying again in the future.

tire them out

Some Dog behaviorists recommend Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise before the postman arrives – enough so that he’s too tired to get up and bark when he comes to the door. But not everyone has a backyard or can take their dog on a long afternoon walk, so it’s not an option for everyone, but worth a try if you can swing it.

Ignore the barking

If you happen to be at home when the postman arrives, try ignoring your dog and his bark instead of rewarding him with your attention. Also, don’t yell at your dog to stop barking: you might see him react negatively to his behavior and scold himbut there’s a good chance they’ll see it as attention (and/or think you’re playing with them)and with it a reward according to AKC.

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