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Why do dogs seem to hate postmen?

Dog barking behind fence

Does your dog bark at the postman? Read on to find out why!

© Liukov - Shutterstock

Dogs and postmen, deliverers and direct sellers, it's a long story... of disenchantment! The former often seem determined to make life difficult for the latter, going to war against any employee who dares to approach their home too close. But why is that so?

By Emilie Heyl

Updated on the

Is your dog impatiently waiting for the arrival of the red little van to show its great ability to intimidate anyone wishing to approach? “Thanks” to your dog, you have to go to the post office everyday because the postman has resigned himself to delivering your mail? 

Don’t you worry! To solve this problem you’ll have to start by understanding why your dog is barking at the mailman. After reading this article, you will understand better why your dog is being aggressive towards the postman (or any other deliverer). We will also give you tips on how to avoid this aggressive behaviour.

Why do dogs hate postmen?

Dogs who hate postmen and run after them are often very caricaturize. Yes, we’ve seen this many many times in cartoons, movies, TV shows. However, it does happen in real life, and it’s important to understand why your dog reacts this way, especially if your pooch has an aggressive behaviour.

Canine behaviour experts point out that dogs do not hate delivery men as such. When these people arrive at your house, call and even walk up to the door, the dog feels that they are a threat to his family.

However, there are other explanations to why your dog barks or is being aggressive when he encounters a postman. The other  reasons for this canine behaviour are:

  • Your dog wants to protect its family
  • Your dog feels unsafe
  • Your dog is scared of this stranger
  • Your dog is aggressive with strangers

Why do dogs chase the postman?

Dogs act in an aggressive way towards the postman mainly to defend their territory: it’s their protective instinct kicking in.

Many dog breeds have a highly developed instinct for vigilance and protection. Dogs that inherently want to protect their territory, their owner and their family. Therefore; when someone enters their circle, getting too close to the house or garden, the dog feels like this stranger is an intruder.

You might be wondering: But why do guard dogs bark at a postman and not at other people, like friends, who come to visit? Friends, according to several studies, are warmly received by the dog's owner, who lets them into the house and also introduces their pet to them. While the opposite occurs with postmen: they do not pass the front door or the mailbox.

How do you stop a dog from being aggressive to a postman?

How a dog has been trained and socialised as a puppy has a lot to do with why your dog acts aggressively toward a postman or deliverer. Indeed, if for example your dog met the postman when he was a puppy, there will generally be no incidents in the present or future.

For many dogs, it’s very hard to know what kind of bringing up it had. But, don’t lose hope if your dog is aggressive toward the postman, there are some training techniques you can put in place to avoid this behaviour.

1. Avoid dog-postman encounters

If your dog has a problem with the postman, the pizza delivery man, or any other deliverer... to the point of becoming aggressive: you have to avoid a confrontation.

You can do this by keeping your dog inside your house or forbidding the garden only when the deliverer arrives.

Another trick to avoid a daily confrontation is to put your mailbox outside your fence. This way, the postman should not enter the property and there is no risk that the dog will be barking.

2. Teach your dog to stay in his bed when the bell rings

For a peaceful coexistence every time someone rings the bell it is vital to get your dog used to staying in his bed or basket every time. Experts say that this exercise, if done on a regular basis, will calm and help your dog to accept strangers.

3. Ask help from a dog trainer or dog behaviourist

If your dog is just scared of the postman, if you introduce your pooch to the mailman, after a bit of time, your pooch should accept this stranger.

Now, when it comes to aggressive dogs, we would recommend you seek help from a dog trainer or a dog behaviourist. Indeed, these professionals will be able to give you their best training tips.

Important: there are no aggressive dogs, education is the key to controlling certain behaviours.

Is my dog ​​afraid of the postman?

Some dogs are afraid of the postman or delivery man and this is why they react aggressively. This fear has, according to experts, several causes:

  • Lack of socialisation when the dog was a puppy. 
  • Lack of understanding on the dog’s part. The animal does not understand why the postman walks up to the letter box then walks off and does this everyday.
  • Bad experiences in their past. Sadly, some dogs have suffered abuse by other humans in their past and they only trust their human mum or dad and no one else.

Do dogs smell the postman’s fear?

The fear is usually mutual. Therefore, postmen or deliverers can also develop a fear of dogs. When a dog barks, it can trigger stress in humans. This releases scents, called pheromones, that the dog can smell. If the dog smells the postman’s fear, the pet may also get nervous.

The animal can also react to the postman’s body language. If a person behaves fearfully, the dog may feel provoked. In some dogs, this can awaken their hunting instinct and they will begin to bark, growl and in extreme cases attack.

Beware If the postman gives treats to your dog

Some postmen try to calm down dogs by giving them treats. This can be very effective as dogs respond to positive reinforcement and over time not only accept the postman but also see him as a source of tasty rewards.

However, this strategy has a catch: as soon as another supplier rings the bell and has no treats, the dog may react even more dissatisfied and defensive.

Therefore, it is advisable that the reward (praise and treats) always comes from the dog owner and not the stranger. Feel free to reward your best four-legged friend when he behaves in an exemplary way with the postman.

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