The Reason Behind a Barking Dog

The Reason Behind a Barking Dog

The United States Postal Service reports that thousands of urban and rural mail carriers are bitten each year by dogs. It’s such a serious problem that the U.S. Postal Service helps spread the word about National Dog Bite Prevention week every May.

Certain territorial dogs are very disturbed by mail carriers. Think about it from your dog’s perspective: An individual shows up daily, so he or she means business and poses a potential threat. The carrier often comes right to the door. The carrier may even slide scary objects through the door, invading your dog’s space.

Some dogs even become conditioned that their bark helps to ward off the carrier. Each day the mail delivery person comes, your dog barks and the carrier leaves. To the dog, that means its loud technique is working. Better socialization of your pet, such as through training classes, can improve its behavior around all people, including your dutiful mail carrier.    

Tags: dog behavior

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Posted on October 26, 2011

Dimmy says: I'll tell you why my dog barks, because he wants attention. I'll be sitting there at my computer and from behind I'll suddenly hear this cute little yelp. Then again, a few moments later, again. Usually by this time he's just too adorable for me to ignore.

Posted on October 28, 2011

Susan says: Dogs who bark frequently and unnecessarily have owners who are lazy and unqualified to be dog owners. Train your dog!

Posted on October 30, 2011

Crossroads says: My husband used to pick up milk at dairy farms which of course had very protective dogs. So he carried dog biscuits to give them. (I called them his bribe biscuits.) He never had a problem. The relief driver did though because he didn't carry biscuits. One dairyman said it was funny to watch his dogs run out to meet the truck, all excited, only to find it was the relief driver. Then they would sigh and walk dejectedly to the barn.

Posted on October 14, 2011

wendy says: My Corgis (herding dogs) bark non-stop at squirrels. After they tree a squirrel they continue barking until I bring them in. Any advice out there?

Posted on September 25, 2011

Fran says: For Patti, Mix a combination of habernero peppers, chili powder, and black pepper in a blender along with dish detergent. Put in a spray bottle and spray the border between your house and the obtrusive neighbor. Dogs generally put their noses to the ground...this will deter them from wanting to cross over that area and defecate in your yard. It worked for me! Reapply after a rain though.

Posted on September 21, 2011

DogLuvr says: Mail carriers should carry dog treats. Condition the dogs to realize that this person shows up every day to bring them goodies.

Posted on September 24, 2011

Paris says: Dogs are stupid. My neighbor's dog barks at air, in the middle of the street.

Posted on September 24, 2011

Andrew says: The headline on this article doesn't fit the content. That's quite annoying. It should be changed to Why your dog barks at the mail carrier, not The Reason Behind A Barking Dog.

Posted on September 19, 2011

Mike Driscoll says: I knew one family who's dog would attack & "kill" the mail as it was dropped through the slot. So they had a second slot put it. Doggie would defend against junk mail, while his people would get the important stuff from the top slot.

Posted on September 16, 2011

Tom says: We have 2 miniture long hair Doxie's. They bark anytime, anyplace and at anyone. often they bark at absolutely nothing at all. It seems that one usually sets off the other. What's really unusual is that sometimes somebody will pass within feet of us while out walking and they'll act as if that person doesn't exist. But even with all the barking, they are without a doubt man's best friend and I can't imagine life without them.

Posted on September 15, 2011

King says: My old Beagle liked the mailman, until the day he got hit in the head with the huge, brick sized Irish Spring soap sample that came through the slot right above him. After that, he would attack the mail, and tore up a lot of magazines.

Posted on September 15, 2011

philip di russo says: my chihuahuas let me know what is going on even before the alarm sounds

Posted on September 15, 2011

catamaran says: my dog is such a dork he gets tangled in weeds , cant much about anyone elses dogs till mine wises up -this is why you seriously dont get a boxxer pit mix 

Posted on September 6, 2011

Jan says: why then do dogs start howling - my dogs join in with other dogs in the area - are they sad, mad, lonely?

Posted on September 5, 2011

jim says: get a life and quit wasting yur time on a stupid animal

Posted on September 2, 2011

Sam Adams says: To Don Bennett, he may have a food allergy, try feeding him a raw food diet!  I'm no expert so I'm probably completely off, but a raw food diet is the best thing for him anyway (much better than the typical commercial canned or dry food).

Posted on September 3, 2011

Patti says: . My next door neighbors, New to the are, have a black lab, they have put up a dog kennel, bordering my lot.. The poor dog is in his own feces, and barks almost continuous. When they do let him out, ( after dark) he does his chores in my yard often... I have called the law, and the officer said, " hes Ok, no different than my dog".I feel this is not humane treatment for the animal, and also over the limit of what I should have to tolerate in my back yard.. What can I do?? This is a small sub. of 30 homes, the lady on the bordering the corner of the lot, has also complained to the owner, as I have.. They become hostile for us saying something.. These people are new to this neighborhood, and I tried very gently to explain the lease law, and his pooping in my yard... I Have my home for sale and this is a big deterent. any one with suggestions ? I have a samall dog of my own, he is always on a lease and I pick up after him, I don't like picking up their big dog and I should not have to.. So I report him to the humane society???

Posted on September 1, 2011

Susan says: This message is for Don Bennett (12/10) whose dog is having seizures. My Lab (Montana) started having seizures when he was only a couple of months old. Drs couldn't find the reason. I didn't want to give him drugs unnescessarily. I did some research and put him on a holistic diet. The # of seizures reduced dramatically. Over the years he developed allergies that affected his skin/hair. To make a (potentially) very long story, short Montana eventually started taking allergy shots. He has only had (1) true seizure since and that was within the 1st few months of starting the shots. I was fortunate in the fact that Montana goes to work with me so I could be there with him when he had a seizure and the fact that his seizures were relatively mild - compared to some I hear about. Good Luck to you.

Posted on August 30, 2011

From the Editor says: Regi Polk: You'll find lots of other specific information in our archive on why dogs bark and how to train them to stop. Check out our Expert Q&A "My dog has started to bark incessantly. Why is he doing this?" here:

Posted on August 30, 2011

Regi Polk says: This article is titled "The Reason Behind Dog Barking" and only gives one instance of it. The title should be "The reason your dog barks at Mail Carriers". More info would be appreciated. I KNOW why dogs bark at mail carriers.

Posted on August 29, 2011

Dawn says: I keep telling my beagle that no matter how much she keeps barking at the mail person the bills will still keep coming and if she really wanted to help, she could get a job to help pay the bills. She just gives me a dirty look.

Posted on August 4, 2011

Ginny says: My 8 yr. old Toy Poodle mix, Taffy, adores our mailman so much that she goes nuts everyday barking excitedly until I let her dash out of the door to the end of the yard to greet him and sits for him to pet her. We even have an adorable photo of her sitting in his mail bag, like she was going on his route with him!

Posted on August 28, 2011

randoqueen says: It would have besn good to add that when you yell at them to stopa nd make a fuss they just think you are barking with them and get more excited. Usually a simple "Name, no." and redirection is best. But I admit, that can be hard to do when you have three histerical doxis frealing out because someone is in their space uninvited.

Posted on July 23, 2011

Barker says: Lets all take our barkers to Washington and surround the Capitol. The mongrels    inside are in need of obedience training to their masters. (We the people.)

Posted on July 22, 2011

liztarbell says: dog owners have lost sight how to feed and train dogs

Posted on July 18, 2011

Sam says: My Walker Hound has that reaction to any government worker that comes on our property.  Good, girl...

Posted on June 23, 2011

PaulDow says: My Wheaton Terrier/Portugese Water Dog mix barks when pickup trucks are leaving without him. I think he's saying "Don't leave me with this guy!"

Posted on July 3, 2011

lynne says: My message is for the guy with the dog having seizures. My pit bull had them and I read up on what to do. Do not hug or hold the dog, let the seizure work their way out. Do put alcohol on the paw pads. cover with a sheet or blanket and put a cold pack on the groin area. once i learned to do this Mallory's seizures were briefer and she lived to the ripe old age of 13 and a half. and the vet can prescribe phenobarb.

Posted on January 6, 2011

Grace says: My dog will bark at any one anytime.

Posted on December 30, 2010

Don Bennett says: My dog is 4 years old; he is a golden retriever, sheepdog, wheaton terrier mix that is 120 lbs and he is beautifull. He has had about 6 seizures over the last 6 months and I am worried for him. Do you have any advise to offer ?

Posted on December 31, 2010

Mae says: Think about it. You're sitting at home with your family, who you love very much, and a strange person approaches the house. He lingers for a moment, then leaves. The same person comes back at the same time every day. Wouldn't that freak you out? Dogs don't understand mail delivery. All they know is that someone comes around their territory every day, hangs around, and never acknowledges them. The perceived cause/effect of the barking described in this article is spot on, as well. The stranger arrives, the dog barks, the stranger leaves. Nevermind that he was going to leave anyway. The easiest way to prevent your dog from biting the mail carrier is to keep him indoors when you're not home, and to be outdoors with him when you are home.

Posted on December 23, 2010

Ren says: My Lab loves our mailman. His favorite thing is to cuddle up to him, and wants to see him if he comes to the door!

Posted on December 28, 2010

daboy says: mail carriers should just wear fire hydrant costumes so that dogs will like them. They would need additional pay though for dry cleaning.

Posted on December 28, 2010

Sandra says: My Yorkie bark at our mail carrier all the time. I date a mail carrier and she bark from the time he arrive until he leave two hour later.

Posted on December 20, 2010

Roxanne Ozga Anderson says: My Trouble gets very excited when he sees and hears our mail person come.

Posted on December 20, 2010

Ana says: I've always thought it was an aversion to polyester.

Posted on December 21, 2010

Wagstaff says: My dog barks because the mail is never for her

Posted on December 23, 2010

tbone says: why do smaller dogs bark more than larger ones? My shitzu barks at a mild breeze?

Posted on December 6, 2010

JoAnne says: I don't know what it is about the mail carrier that turns well behaved, socialized dogs who love people into little Kujos

Posted on December 7, 2010

w0w says: coolio

Posted on December 16, 2010

kate says: Maybe it's the uniform? Actually, my lil weiners bark at EVERYONE. I think that they believe that they are providing a VERY IMPORTANT SERVICE.

Posted on December 20, 2010

crystal says: my dog barks at anyone in a uniform.whats funny is my husband is a police officer so she sees him in uniform all the time but if any of his officer friends show up she goes time my husband had to call an ambulance for me and some of his officer friends showed up to make sure i was ok and one of the officers almost had to pepper spray her because when my husband opened the door she ran out.

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