Karen B. London
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Why Do Dogs Bite Mail Carriers?
There are so many reasons

A press release from the Postal Service titled “Postal Service Announces Top Dog Attack Cities” shares the statistic that 5,669 postal employees were attacked by dogs last year in 1,400 cities across the United States. Houston was the city in which the most such bites occurred with 62 and Columbus and San Diego tied for second with 45 each.

Of course, many more people nationwide are bitten, but it’s common knowledge that mail carriers regularly face the threat of dog bites. There are many reasons for this. Mail carriers walk onto dogs’ territories every day, returning no matter what the dogs do to warn them—bark, growl, lunge or stare. From a canine perspective, these people just keep invading the dogs’ space each day without responding to their warnings. So for dogs who are territorial, postal workers are unwelcome, and their behavior sometimes escalates from warnings to actual bites.

The majority of dogs who bite do so because they are afraid. Fearful dogs are often especially scared of people who are carrying things, which puts people who deliver the mail at risk. Furthermore, these mail carriers turn their backs and walk away, an action that can give frightened dogs just enough confidence to act on their fears by biting.

To both fearful and territorial dogs (as well as dogs with both issues), uniforms are often associated with unfamiliar people arriving on their property, so the uniform itself can be a trigger that elicits aggressive behavior.

How does your dog react to the person who delivers your mail?


Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

CommentsPost a Comment
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Submitted by Anonymous | May 21 2011 |

I'm a letter carrier.

My own dog bites me every day when I walk in the front door in my uniform....


Submitted by Anonymous | September 23 2011 |

hahaha...reallyyy? what is it about dogs?! what upsets them? don't we wish dogs can just tell us...why do they bark? i just wonder??

Submitted by Carl | March 9 2012 |

I'm a retired letter carrier. When I was in the Coast Guard, I lived on the Station and had a dog that was a watchdog. She barked at people NOT in uniform...even Coasties arriving to work in civvies...the same people she would rub up against when they were in uniform!

Submitted by Pawsitive Pack ... | May 23 2011 |

When a mail man drops the mail, the second he turns in his, the dogs are already barking. In their minds, they think they are making the mailman retreat. The mailman retreating is actually reinforcing the barking, which could potential escalate the situation.

Submitted by Katie | May 24 2011 |

Our dog Angel consistently growls at the mailman. If she's outside, she bristles as well. But even inside, with the big door shut, and even if she's in a different room, as soon as he opens the gate, she hears it squeak and starts growling. I'm not sure if it's possible to get her to stop, but I'd like to try.

Submitted by Anonymous | March 25 2012 |

Actually my Samoyed loves it when the mailman comes. She greets them with a wagging tail and lies down and roles over so they can say hello. Unfortunately, one or two of the substitute mail delivery staff are affraid and have reported my little girl to the authorities. It just take one bitting dog for all dogs to get a bad rap...and it takes one bad postal carrier to give mailmen a bad rap.

Submitted by Anonymous | November 15 2012 |

I am looking for some help. My mail carrier claims my dog attack jumped and knocked him down to the ground. However I have video from a neighbor that shows different. My dogs did get out and run up to him and bark but never can in contact with him. I am no longer able to get mail at my address. Is there anything I can do?

Submitted by Anonymous | May 27 2013 |

If you live in Winnipeg, I think I know your letter carrier! Had same sort of issue with a carrier who lied to further his cause!

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