Why your dog hates the postman

So, your dog barks like mad at the postman, the window cleaner and even the bin men! But why does he hate them so much – he’s never even met them?

Border Collie dog barking over a wall.
Dog Barking and Guarding the Territory

Dog Vs Postman

Lets start by clearing something up. Your dog does not actually hate the postman, the window cleaner, or the bin men. He also doesn’t hate random passers-by, the Amazon man, the Avon lady or any other regular caller to your door, for that matter. What he does hate, is the way they behave. And, in particular, he hates the way they respond to him. Or, at least the way he thinks they respond to him.

Check out Why Do Dogs Do What They Do, and How Can We Help Them Pick the Right Behaviour?

The Bin Men

Let’s start with the bin men. They are a noisy bunch, they shout and they bang. They also bring a big loud lorry with them, with squeaky breaks, and reversing alarms. They come fairly regularly so it won’t take long for your dog to learn their routine and recognise the sound. He will hear them as soon as they turn into the street, and will listen as they work their way along.

As they get closer he will start his guarding routine – first his stance will change, he will quicken in pace, and the barking will follow. The bin men don’t come too close to the house though. That’s important, as it confirms to him that he has done a good job in keeping them at bay.

He saved the day, and that makes him feel good so he’ll do it again, and again! He didn’t of course, but he doesn’t know that!

Anxious dog waiting by the front door
Guarding the front door

The Postman

The postman comes every day (or at least he’s supposed to), so it doesn’t take long for your dog to get used to his routine. He visits every house in the street, in order. He knows every squeaky gate, and every other barking dog. So your dog will be well aware of his presence long before he actually arrives at your house.

This gives your dog plenty of time to psych himself up and ready himself to guard the house. Guarding protocol will begin long before the barking will start, especially if your dog can see the postie too.

Of all your visitors, the postman is actually a bit of a coward – in your dogs eyes. After all, it only usually takes a few barks before he changes his mind and scoots on to the next house. He has no idea the postie would have left anyway!

The Window Cleaner

Window cleaners are infrequent visitors to our homes, but when they come they are the actually the most frightening. Out of everyone, he is the most threatening. He actually works his way around the front and back of your house, banging on the the windows, one by one. He’s there for quite a while before he gives up and leaves.

If you think about it, that is exactly how a burglar might behave. It is no wonder your dog gets defensive. And let’s face it, you wouldn’t complain if he barked at someone that did exactly this at 3am!

Dog peeking through a gap in the fence.
On the lookout

Why bark?

These are frightening experiences for your dog. They will put him into an anxious state which means he will react instinctively. For some dogs that might mean hiding. But for most, it is time for action. So he initiates guarding protocol; his body will stiffen, his eyes will become more intense. His posture will change and his tail will twitch. If those signals are ignored, he will start to bark, in most cases this is enough to get the threat to leave. When it isn’t, your dog may attack the door, growl and snap, and if he is really wired, he might even try to bite.

Read more... I go into more detail about barking and why dogs bark in this blog!

Making it worse

You can see that in all the situations we have described, nothing bad actually happened. He responded to a possible threat in the only way he knows, and every one lived to tell the tale. Of course, your dog will think that he was awesome at his duties and saved everyone from impending doom. We know different, of course. But, his perceived triumph will certainly be enough to ensure he does it again next time, and every time after that.

If you shout too, then the whole situation has gotten a whole lot worse. Not only does he think that you are concerned too, but also that he was successful in getting you to help in ganging up on the poor postie. That will only reinforce his behaviour further. And, if you also rush to the door, just like he does, he will feel further empowered. Of course, we know that you reacted that way because of him, and not the threat at all, but how does he know that?

Get some help with your dog…

Private Dog Behaviour Consultations are currently available in the Dundee area and beyond. If you are looking for advice and support while you work with your dog, then please get in touch!


I have more than 15 years experience solving all kinds of canine behaviour problems, at home and in rescue. A bad experience with a old fashioned dog trainer inspired me to learn more about dog behaviour, and it is because of him, that I wall never use harsh methods when training and rehabilitating dogs.

I work privately with clients in Dundee and the surrounding area with dogs of all ages, breeds and issues including anxiety, aggression and hyperactivity.

In 2009 I was proud to publish a book about dog behaviour and training. How to be the Perfect Pack Leader (by Caroline Jenkins) remains popular today and a follow up is expected very shortly.

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  1. You have just described my wee dog to a t!! I some times thing he will take a heart attack!!!

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