The Post Office hates your dog. Don’t get me wrong, your mailman may say that he loves dogs. He may even have dogs himself. He, although never admitting it to you, hates your dog. And rightfully so. Dogs cause postal carriers a degree of headache and worry that few people have to deal with on a daily basis.

The United States Postal Service has a general policy when it comes to dogs and carrier safetDog Behind Gatey. If the carrier feels threatened in any way, they will not deliver to your home. The Postal Service also has another policy which allows the carrier to determine the animal’s fate if they are attacked. However, management usually tries to push for the animal to be destroyed. Postal workers also carry animal mace on them every time they exit a vehicle “just in case” your mailman isn’t feeling in the loving mood when he sees a dog running towards him.

I’m not telling you these things to make you think less of your local letter carrier. Far from it. I am only letting you know these things so you are aware that the consequences are very real for you and your pet, even if an accident occurs. The following is a list of things you can do to help ensure that your pet and your postal carrier have a peaceful coexistence and can reduce the chances of injury to both.

Notice or ask your postal carrier what time they usually come by. Usually the carrier will come to your home at around the same time every day. He or she has a tight schedule to keep and, barring weather emergencies or other extenuating circumstances, is probably running right on time. If you are home during these hours, it is always best to teach your dog to go out before or after this time. Even though the carrier comes to the front door to make his delivery, it is best not to tempt fate here. Gates have been accidently left unlocked and dogs have been known to jump fairly high when sufficiently motivated. If your dog is out of your sight, remember, he could be running free and that could lead to trouble for him and the carrier.

Always lock your screen and storm doors. Now this may be impossible for people who have a mail slot in their door but for the rest of us, it is good advice. The reasoning is simple. Your carrier has to frequently make package deliveries during his route and a lot of those deliveries require a signature. If he knocks on your door and your dog, who is sufficiently large enough, comes charging towards it, there is a pretty good chance your door will come open. This type of event more commonly happens when the weather is nice and front doors are left open but still should be considered in colder weather too. Again, even if you own a small dog, never underestimate his/her ability to get outside or hit the right latch when motivated by a stranger at the door.

Never leave your dog tied up in front of your home. This is a big never. Don’t do it. Don’t even think about it. You may say that your mailbox is by the curb and the letter carrier never gets out of his truck. That is only true part of the time. Even on driving routes, carriers are frequently required to make package deliveries to doorsteps, especially in the era of online shopping. Sure, the mailman may not get out at your door, but that might not necessarily be true about your neighbor’s house. A chained dog may still able to pull free and can do a lot of damage to a postal worker who has his back turned making a delivery to another home. Don’t take chances. Keep your dog in the back of your home or make sure that you are outside watching him.

Remember, your dog loves you. This may sound not sound like a suggestion but believe me, it is. If you keep this simple fact in mind, it will help you understand your dog’s behavior when guests such as the mailman come to your door. Your dog is protective of you and your property, which, consequently, he views as his territory. It should be generally assumed that your dog will view anyone who comes into that space as an intruder, even if he stops by the door every day. You should always be ready for your dog to potentially defend you and should try to put some distance between your carrier and your pet when answering the door.

Double check all locks and gates. Even though you may have just gotten a new gate or you have a seven-foot tall privacy fence, remember, your dog is crafty and can do things you may have never imagined. For that reason, it is a good idea to double check all of your gates and fences at least once a week and especially after bad weather. The mailman comes by your door every day and that can give any clever pooch enough time to come up with ways to get through even the most well guarded defenses. And to stress it again, if your dog gets out, if only by accident, and comes at your letter carrier (even if he is friendly), your pup could end up with a face full of mace or worse.

In short, do your dog and your postman a favor, reduce the potential for accidents and keep an eye on your hound any time you think you might have potential visitors. While these tips might not completely eliminate all hazardous situations, they can certainly reduce them. Remember, your mail carrier may say he likes your dog but he likes not getting bitten even more. He’ll do what he has to in order to protect himself. It is up to you to make sure your pet stays safe. – Mike Griffin

Mike Griffin is a dog lover who also has a fondness for cats. And rabbits. And birds. And hamsters. The list pretty much includes any critter that will let him enjoy their company or occasionally pet them. When Mike isn’t writing for Ohio Animal Companion, you’ll probably find him at any one of the local parks or trying to not to burn down his house with the experiments he holds in his kitchen that he likes to call “cooking.” Oh, and he did have a brief stint as a USPS Mail Carrier.