Stopping your chihuahua barking at the postman
Dogs generally like barking at the postman and delivery people coming to the house. But chihuahuas barking can take this behaviour to a new level. According to Royal Mail 2471 post men and women were bitten or attacked by dogs in 2016.
Is barking at the postman really a problem?
Yes, barking at the postman is a problem. Even though they are small, if your chihuahua bites you can be in trouble. The law about dangerous dogs applies to all dogs regardless of size.
It’s not just if your dog actually bites, but if someone perceives your dog as a threat. The law says your postman or any delivery person has the right to go about their work without the fear of being bitten by your dog. If your postman complains you may find your delivery suspended or your dog being seized.
Why do chihuahuas hate the postman so much?
Chihuahuas take the idea of guarding the house very seriously. They are by nature very territorial which is why they make such excellent watch dogs. To your chihuahua any person who approaches the house is a security breach and they will bark to warn you of the danger.
They have probably been watching him walk up and down the street and have heard other dogs barking the warning. By the time postie gets to your house your chihuahua has probably worked himself up into a lather.
As your dog watches the postman arrive your chihuahua will bark furiously, the postman puts the mail in the door then leaves. To your chihuahua job done. Barking at the postman works. He doesn’t understand that postie was going to leave anyway. In his head there was a threat, he barked and the threat left. This behaviour is reinforced every day.
Would your chihuahua bite?
Chances are that yes, he might. By the time your postman gets to your door your chihuahua is likely to be in a state of high excitement. Listening to your commands will have gone out the window. If your chihuahua gets outside you are likely to get excited yourself as you try and retrieve him. Your chihuahua will see this as reinforcement of his belief that there is a problem and fuel his agitation.
How to calm him down?
It is a tough one. Because it happens every day.
There is a school of thought that suggest you get your postman to give your dog a treat, thus turning his arrival into a positive experience. There are several reasons I don’t feel this is the answer:
- Your chihuahua’s territorial instinct is very strong
- You are rewarding the behaviour
- Creating a different trigger for the excitement
- Postie hasn’t got time to feed all the dogs on their round
- They may not like dogs
- You are exposing your postman to danger
5 Steps that may help
When the post comes through the door, don’t let your dog get it, however amusing. Take it and walk away calmly without comment. Your chihuahua should see you as their main guardian and if you are not concerned then he will learn not to be. If its any consolation my dogs are dreadful with the post, it is something we are working on.
As with general barking, acknowledge your chihuahua’s efforts to warn you by looking at what he is barking at, thank him and walk away. Again, he will start to take his cue from you. If you are not concerned he will learn not to be. Try to do this every time the postman is in the street until your dog starts to calm down.
Don’t shout at him (your dog not the postman) as he will see this as excitement and evidence that he is right to be concerned.
Don’t throw him a toy or treat to distract him as this will reward the behaviour.
Good basic training is a must, this way your dog will know who is in charge and learn to trust your judgement.
Remember it is up to you to make sure people who come onto your property are kept safe, if all else fails make sure your dog cannot get to the postman or jump up and bite fingers.You know your chi is an angel at home but you don’t want to find yourself trying to explain this to a magistrate.
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Books by Chihuahua Power
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