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Old 03-06-2009, 11:02 PM
Markxxx Markxxx is offline
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Why Do Dogs Hate Mailmen?

My neighbors go out of town, every so often and I'll go over and feed and play with the dogs. They have an older dog about 10 or 12 years old and a puppy. Well he's not really, he's pretty much grown physically but acts like a pup.

Anyway they said I can watch the cable if I want, as I don't have it, and so what I do is let the dogs out, play with them. After about 10 minutes the older dog, says "OK enough of this," and walks to the front gate, and sits there staring at the world go by. He's very friendly, yesterday I waited for the cable man and the old dog sat for six hours just wagging his tail, with a goofy grin on his face watching the world go by.

But one thing I noticed was, if the old guy is out he HATES the mailman. Now he's behind a 6 foot iron fence, so there's no way he can get to the mailman. The boxes are on the other side of the fence. You could reach in between the iron bars and pet the dog, I think people do this and that's why the old guy likes to sit and watch the world go by. It's a very busy street, both people traffic and car traffic.

When the mailman comes he hunches down, his tail goes in, his go back, his fur stand on end and you can see a snarl that exposes 99% of his gums and all his teeth. He HATES the mailman. Yet anyone else he loves.

I had a friend come by and play with the mailbox, he didn't care. He was all like with his goofy grin on his face, wagging his tail. So I thought OK it's the uniform. But the cable guy came over and he was like "Come on in, no problem." The old dog could care less about the cable guy.

But it's JUST the mailman. Now I noticed the younger dog, if he's out with the old dog, he's starting to bark really aggressive at the mailman. So he must be learning to hate the mailman from the old dog.

I've never seen a dog love everyone so much and HATE the mailman. He's a very friendly dog, but that mailman he HATES. He looks (and sounds) like he wants to tear him to pieces. (The mailmen doesn't seem at all concerned so I guess he's use to dog barking at him). I say mailmen because there are different ones and even female mail carriers and he reacts that way to all of them.

I've seen him do this on lots of occasions so its a habbit with the old man

So you reckon it's the combination of the uniform and the messing with the mailbox that drives the old dog crazy?

Last edited by Markxxx; 03-06-2009 at 11:03 PM..
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  #2  
Old 03-06-2009, 11:10 PM
Todderbob Todderbob is offline
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Maybe it's because the mailman smells funny?
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Old 03-06-2009, 11:14 PM
Lamia Lamia is offline
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I recently read an Agatha Christie novel (Poirot Loses a Client) where Inspector Poirot explains why dogs hate mailmen. He says that a dog recognizes that there are people who are permitted into their family's territory and people who are not. Some dogs are more suspicious than others, but even a very friendly dog is going to notice that there's one type of human who comes up to the house practically every day and messes about a bit but who is NEVER allowed inside. THE MAILMAN!

Clearly these mailmen must be a very bad sort indeed! Better scare them away! And of course the mailman does leave quite quickly...but returns the very next day! And comes right up to the house! Oh, the nerve! Better scare him off again...

I don't know if this is really true, but it seemed reasonable enough. Growing up, my family had a very sweet natured Labrador who loved everyone except UPS deliverymen. He'd turn into a mad wolf at the sight of them.

Last edited by Lamia; 03-06-2009 at 11:15 PM..
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Old 03-06-2009, 11:21 PM
River Hippie River Hippie is offline
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No answer but my dog flips out when the mail man or woman comes by. If we're in the truck driving down the road, she'll go crazy if she sees a mail carrier walking. She barks at all strangers that approach the house but steps the aggression up a couple notches for mail carriers.
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  #5  
Old 03-06-2009, 11:32 PM
Pyper Pyper is offline
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Dogs and mailmen are a classic case of negative reinforcement (i.e. a behavior increasing when the stimulus is removed). Dogs are naturally territorial, so they attempt to threaten any stranger that enters their territory. A mailman, by nature of the job, will enter the territory and then leave immediately. The dog thinks, "Ah ha! My ferocious barking has scared away the stranger!" and thus he will bark the next time, and the next, and the next, because (to him) the barking has the desired consequence of the mailman fleeing.

The same dog might not bark at a random stranger because he hasn't experienced the reinforcement of this same person backing off in response to his territoriality. He also might not bark at strangers invited in because dogs understand when the alpha (their human) has accepted someone into the territory.
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Old 03-06-2009, 11:47 PM
Rick Rick is offline
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A mailman explained it to me this way.
"You have to look at it from the dog's point of view. I show up, he barks, I leave. He thinks he is doing a great job."
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Old 03-07-2009, 12:09 AM
The Second Stone The Second Stone is offline
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Well that and the dog sees that the bills that the mailman leaves are even more unpopular than dog turds with master.
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Old 03-07-2009, 12:28 AM
madmonk28 madmonk28 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick View Post
A mailman explained it to me this way.
"You have to look at it from the dog's point of view. I show up, he barks, I leave. He thinks he is doing a great job."
I had thought this, too. Everyday around 3pm (except Sundays), my dog defends his house and chases off an intruder. It's probably the highlight of my dog's day.
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Old 03-07-2009, 02:19 AM
chowder chowder is offline
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Ex Mailman checking in.

I can tell you it's not the uniform. Some years back Royal Mail thought it might be so they changed the uniform from blue to grey.....the dogs still hated us.

I reckon Rick may have it right but there are exceptions.

F'rinstance, there was this one dog that was forever trying to rip off my gonads, one day the owners invited me in for a coffee which I accepted because I was piss wet through and freezing.

Dog approached me at the table, had a good sniff at me, after that whenever I came to the house he greeted me like a long lost friend, never had any probs at all.

FWIW during my service as a deliverer of bad/good news I was only bitten once and that was just a tiny nip, the biter got a good kick up the arse and never tried it again.
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Old 03-07-2009, 02:41 AM
Markxxx Markxxx is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick View Post
A mailman explained it to me this way.
"You have to look at it from the dog's point of view. I show up, he barks, I leave. He thinks he is doing a great job."
I must say that makes a lot of sense. I guess, like everything, it depends on your point of view
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Old 03-07-2009, 03:54 AM
mariposalabrown mariposalabrown is offline
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They hate new people.
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Old 03-07-2009, 08:58 AM
Moirai Moirai is offline
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Some dogs also don't like certain types of dress- hats, sunglasses. They also migh be carrying a mailbag, which can freak out some dogs.

But I think this-

Quote:
"You have to look at it from the dog's point of view. I show up, he barks, I leave. He thinks he is doing a great job."
and this-

Quote:
Everyday around 3pm (except Sundays), my dog defends his house and chases off an intruder. It's probably the highlight of my dog's day.
Are right on target.
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  #13  
Old 03-07-2009, 09:15 AM
Ferret Herder Ferret Herder is offline
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My husband is a mailman, and he says he really does prefer to get a chance to "meet" a dog early on when delivering the mail to a new house or to an established house that gets a new dog. If the dog sees that his family wants to interact with this stranger, and that the stranger is nice (and maybe even slips him a treat sometimes), then interactions in the future go better. This isn't just "dog barks from inside the house" but stuff like "kids let the dog out accidentally/because they think it's funny." In these cases it's better to have a dog that thinks "oh that's the nice guy! I love him!" than "grr, here is my nemesis."

If a dog appears to pose a threat of attack, he pretty much has to do something (pepper spray, etc.) or else since if he is actually injured, he might also get disciplined at his job for not doing everything he could to avoid the problem.

(Of course, there are dog-phobic letter carriers out there who just make the problem worse with their phobia, so YMMV.)

His most recent dog "encounter" was this week - discovering a dog from his route, a couple blocks from home, who'd gotten out of its yard. The dog knew him and approached happily, so he used his belt as a makeshift leash through a big loop on the collar and walked the dog to its proper home. The dog is still a puppy and not well trained, so he didn't trust the dog to not dart off into traffic or whatever while on their walk, if not leashed. Stuff like this is why introductions and socialization with your letter carrier can be a good idea.
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Old 03-07-2009, 06:20 PM
River Hippie River Hippie is offline
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My mail carrier and I have tried several times to work out a truce. He's given her treats, tried talking to her and making friends.

Nuh-uh, dog aint havin' none of that.

The mail carrier came early one Saturday and I did not have the dog secured. She ran out and put on a ferocious display but didn't bite. The carrier felt comfortable enough to not hit her with the pepper spray but my heart stopped for a couple minutes.
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Old 03-08-2009, 08:56 PM
Voyager Voyager is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ferret Herder View Post
My husband is a mailman, and he says he really does prefer to get a chance to "meet" a dog early on when delivering the mail to a new house or to an established house that gets a new dog. If the dog sees that his family wants to interact with this stranger, and that the stranger is nice (and maybe even slips him a treat sometimes), then interactions in the future go better. This isn't just "dog barks from inside the house" but stuff like "kids let the dog out accidentally/because they think it's funny." In these cases it's better to have a dog that thinks "oh that's the nice guy! I love him!" than "grr, here is my nemesis."

If a dog appears to pose a threat of attack, he pretty much has to do something (pepper spray, etc.) or else since if he is actually injured, he might also get disciplined at his job for not doing everything he could to avoid the problem.
I was a carrier one summer, and as a temp had a different route nearly every day. I found it also depends on the dog. My closes call came when I delivered to a house with a dog on the lawn, and the dog sat there and wagged at me. I went around the corner, and found what looked like an identical dog a few houses down - who attacked. Used my trusty mace, and only got my pants leg bitten through.

I didn't have a dog then. I wonder if carriers who are dog owners do better.
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Old 03-09-2009, 09:08 AM
Zany Zeolite Zipper Zany Zeolite Zipper is offline
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Dogs don't like the sight or sound of anyone having sex, that's really why they hate mailmen

Last edited by Zany Zeolite Zipper; 03-09-2009 at 09:09 AM..
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  #17  
Old 03-09-2009, 09:25 AM
TroubleAgain TroubleAgain is offline
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Maybe it's because enough dogs have bitten mail carriers that mail carriers distrust the dogs, which sense the distrust, which triggers aggression...vicious cycle ensues.
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  #18  
Old 03-09-2009, 11:15 AM
ralph124c ralph124c is offline
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When i was a kid, the mailman (Mr. Pierce) lived up the road from us. Mr. Pierce always carried a bag of dog biscuits with him-he would give them to the dogs on his route.
He told me it was insurance against getting bitten.
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Old 03-10-2009, 05:51 AM
willthekittensurvive? willthekittensurvive? is online now
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[Norm Peterson]You know why dogs hate mailmen? They just wanna be like everyone else.[/Norm Peterson]
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  #20  
Old 03-10-2009, 08:35 AM
Odesio Odesio is online now
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My dog goes berserk when the mailman walks through our yard. He'll certainly bark at other people (the dog not the mailman) but he reserves the bulk of his ire for the letter carrier.
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  #21  
Old 03-10-2009, 01:16 PM
PunditLisa PunditLisa is offline
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Our mailmen just deliver the mail to our roadside mailbox, so he doesn't actually enter the yard. My dog doesn't even get up to howl at him. The Fedex guy, on the other hand, gets the full five alarm treatment.

The pizza guy gets similar treatment until the door is opened and he smells the pizza. Then all is forgiven. Buddy's a slave to pizza.
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