Most of us with a dog knows the joy they can bring, but some things spark over-excitement and even aggression. One such example is the delivery of mail through the letterbox. What causes this behaviour and what can be done to prevent it?
Why Do Dogs Chew Letters?
Before the release of All Creatures Great and Small, Channel 5 undertook a survey* to discover the nation’s favourite pet and farm animal. Horses topped the list for farm animals, but the highest vote was won by dogs. 51% of the population rated them as a preferred pet.
Dogs are loyal companions, who seem in tune with our behaviours and frame of mind. They provide comfort, get us outside and active and stoking them is shown to reduce stress. That is until the post person arrives.
Not all dogs feel the need to bark and jump up and down when the post is delivered, not all launch an attack on the mail as it drops through the letterbox, but it is common. Why is it that an otherwise placid hound reacts in such a way?
According to dog behaviourists, there are two main reasons:
- The dog sees the post person as a threat, an uninvited guest encroaching on their territory. Their loud and boisterous response is an attempt to protect you and your home.
- The dog sees the post person as a potential playmate. Here is an opportunity to engage in play and they want to get noticed.
Whether in defensive or play mode, the post coming through the letterbox is the first opportunity for physical interaction. They might grab it to play or attack. Either way, the result in soggy letters, chewed documents, ripped newspapers and trampled leaflets.
A discussion on a Cocker Spaniel Owner’s forum revealed that amongst other things, their pets had chewed a parking permit, airline tickets, a birthday card containing money and a vaccination reminder from the vets!
From the delivery person’s perspective, a barking dog leaping up to the letterbox can be terrifying. They may not fully post the mail through, for fear of losing a finger. This can leave the letterbox ajar, allowing heat to seep out.
How Can We Prevent Dogs Chewing Post?
It seems that there are two main options to prevent problems every time something drops through the letterbox. The first is to train the dog to behave differently, the second to keep the mail out of reach of the dog.
To change behaviours, the dog needs to understand that the post person is neither a threat nor a playmate. This can include allowing the dog to meet the post person or training them to go to their bed and stop barking with rewards. Distraction techniques, such as playing with the dog when the delivery is due is also an option, but this isn’t easy to fit into a daily routine.
Removing Temptation: Letterbox Cages or an Outdoor Letterbox
The alternative is to keep the post out of reach. Some owners fix letterbox cages to the inside of their doors. Others fit dog gates that prevent their pets from reaching the front door. Both can work, but they can also look unsightly.
An alternative option is to fit an outside letterbox. A lockable post box is weather resistant and comes in a range of designs. All mail can be posted into this secure mailbox, so nothing ends up in the jaws, or under the paws, of your loyal friend.
Wall post boxes are usually installed next to the front entrance of the property, but they can also be fixed to a wall, gate or post at the end of your drive. This removes the need for the post person to approach your home and save the noise and disruption of an aggressive or over-excited dog.
If pacifying your pet when answering the door to couriers is an issue, an external parcel mailbox might be the answer. These feature a wider opening than a standard letterbox and secure capacity for bigger packages.
UK Supplier of Secure Mailboxes
If an outside letterbox or external parcel mailbox is the way to prevent your pooch from chewing the mail, Letterbox Supermarket can assist. Based in the UK, we source a selection of quality options from specialist European manufacturers. Why not take a look?