Why Do Dogs Bark at the Mailman?

It’s a classic dog stereotype that’s much more of a headache in real life than it is in all of those cartoons: Some dogs just love to bark at the mailman. If you’re around to hear it every day, then you’re most likely searching desperately for a way to make it stop. 

The good news is that, although this behavior is deeply instinctual for some pups, you can get your dog to keep it down when the mailman comes around.

In order to help you do that, we’ve created this guide to why dogs bark at the kindly mail carrier who means them no harm, as well as some tips for how to make them treat our dedicated civil servants with a little more respect going forward. For a quick and easy solution check out our humane no-shock bark collar, bound to calm down your pup. Enjoy!

Why Do Dogs Bark?

Before we get into any specifics, let’s take a step back and consider why dogs bark at all. They may not be speaking English or any other human language, but they are speaking. 

Dogs bark to communicate with humans, other dogs, and any other species they have something to say to. It’s not just random noise; there’s almost always a good reason why they’re speaking up.

Some of the most common reasons include:

  • They’re hungry or thirsty
  • They need to use the bathroom
  • They’re excited to see you
  • They need exercise
  • They’re bored
  • They’ve been startled
  • They’re in pain
  • They have separation anxiety

As you can see, barking is typically your dog trying to communicate an unmet need or expressing an emotion. When you think of it that way, you may have a clearer picture of how you might get them to stop the barking behavior.

The Reason Why Dogs Bark at the Mailman

So what did your friendly neighborhood postal worker ever do to deserve the serenade of loud barks that come every time they drop off your mail? Well, nothing really, but they may play a (totally unintentional) part in reinforcing the behavior. For more information on that, read on.

Territorial Behavior

All dogs are territorial. Perhaps some are more territorial than others, but it doesn’t matter if you have a shih tzu, schnauzer, border collie, beagle, or anything in between: they’re going to have a sense of their own territory, and they’re going to react when they think that territory is being invaded.

When the mail carrier comes to your home to drop off the mail, your dog sees it as a stranger invading their territory, and so they bark to ward them off. The thing is that since the mail carrier does leave right after being barked at, your pup thinks they’ve done a great job! This makes them more likely to repeat the behavior in the future.

They’re Scared

The only thing your dog knows about the mailman is that they show up just about every day uninvited and encroach on their territory. This can be pretty scary to your pup since they never really get a chance to meet the mailman and learn that they mean no harm. 

The reaction to that fear is often loud barking, but if your dog is scared enough, they may become aggressive if they ever come into contact with the mailman. That’s why you should always be cautious.

How to Get Your Dog to Stop Barking at the Mailman

Below are some simple but effective suggestions to get your dog to negotiate a peace treaty with your local postal worker.  

Have Them Meet

General socialization is a great plan for getting a dog to bark less at everyone. You can start socializing puppies at about seven to eight weeks, but it’s never too late for a dog to become more socially comfortable, provided you approach the task carefully. 

When you’re confident they won’t become aggressive, it may be best to let your dog meet the mail carrier and give them a sniff or two in order to become a bit more acclimated to them.

Keep Them Separated

If there’s a window where the mailman is visible or a door that they come close to when dropping off the mail, you can always try to keep your dog away around the time of day that the mailman shows up.

Bark Collar

A great way to discourage barking behavior without harming your pup is to use a humane bark collar. The No-Shock Bark Collar from Pets Pawsabilities uses sound and vibration rather than electric shocks to train your dog to keep the barking to a minimum.