Dear Daisy Dog
Every afternoon when the mail carrier delivers mail through the slot in my front door, my dog barks and shreds the mail if I don’t retrieve it first. He’s completely docile when anyone else comes to the house. Short of renting a post office box, what can I do?
Our mail carrier delivers letters to the mailbox at the end of the driveway, so my brothers and I haven’t experienced this situation.
However, when I consulted some canine friends, I learned that your dog’s problem – territorial aggression – is fairly common.
Dogs with territorial aggression over-react to mail carriers for a couple of reasons:
- The mail carrier wears a uniform and carries an odd-shaped mail bag, so he or she looks different from most of your friends; and
- The mail carrier lingers around your house for a short time and leaves after your dog barks.
In other words, your dog feels his barking frightens the intruder away.
That’s not your intent, of course, so you have two options:
1: Relocate the mailbox to the outside of your home so the mail carrier does not drop mail through the slot in your door. Pull the blinds so your dog can’t see the mail carrier coming.
Or 2: Teach your dog that the mail carrier is no threat. To do this, leash your dog and have him sit when the mail carrier arrives on your street.
When the mail carrier gets to your house, give your dog treats so he associates mail delivery with something positive.
If these suggestions don’t work, ask your veterinarian for a referral to a veterinary behaviorist who can offer additional behavior modification techniques and medication.