Keep your pet and your letter carrier safe

The number of postal employees attacked by dogs nationwide reached 6,755 in 2016

BOARDMAN, Ohio (WYTV) – Thousands of postal workers are bitten each year by dogs. Not only do the mail carriers need to protect themselves, dog owners can also help by getting their dogs used to seeing the mailman.

The number of postal employees attacked by dogs nationwide reached 6,755 in 2016 — more than 200 higher than the year before. Cleveland ranks number 3 on the list of cities with most dog bites to postal employees, according to the United States Postal Service.

Brett Reynolds is a K9 specialist at Sit Means Sit in Mineral Ridge. He trains dogs on the proper way to react to seeing a mail carrier. The first thing he says for owners to do is to think like a dog. If your dog barks at the mailman each day, the dog will think he is doing its job.

“The dog has in mind when he barks the mail person runs away. I win. So in a sense, the dog is winning on a daily basis,” Reynolds said.

Brett says leashes are a great training tool, not only for going on walks but using in the house to keep dogs calm. Reynolds said you can effectively restrain your dog to help prevent a negative situation.

Jenny Falvey owns Dog Smartz Unleashed in Poland and says the best time to start training is during the puppy stage.

“If a delivery man is coming or postal carrier is coming to the door, secure your dog behind something before you open the door,” Falvey said. “There are a lot of things you can do to prevent a dog from responding that way and changing their association, but there are also things we have to do from a safety perspective that we need to manage them carefully.”

It is natural for a dog to be protective and territorial when someone comes to their home. But rewarding your dog for calm behavior can help get them used to delivery people and strangers.

Tips for handling your dog during deliveries: (Courtesy: USPS)

  • If a letter carrier delivers mail or packages to your front door, place your dog in a separate room and close that door before opening the front door. Dogs have been known to burst through screen doors or plate-glass windows to attack visitors. Dog owners should keep the family pet secured.
  • Parents should remind their children and other family members not to take mail directly from letter carriers in the presence of the family pet, as the dog may view the letter carrier handing mail to a family member as a threatening gesture.
  • The Postal Service places the safety of its employees as a top priority. If a letter carrier feels threatened by a dog, or if a dog is loose or unleashed, the owner may be asked to pick up mail at a Post Office until the letter carrier is assured the pet has been restrained. If the dog is roaming the neighborhood, the pet owner’s neighbors also may be asked to pick up their mail at the area’s Post Office.