It's human nature to like to be at the top of the list. But does Seattle want to be at the top of this list? The US Postal Service recently released their list of cities notorious for dogs biting mailmen. Seattle, tied with San Antonio and wedged between Los Angeles and Chicago, ranked number #2. In the fiscal year 2012, 42 letter carriers were bitten by our four-legged friends. And Tacoma wasn't much better - they tied for 13th with 21 dog bites.
I admit to being a bit surprised Seattle was so high on the list, I've always thought of the area as very dog friendly. I can't count how many well-behaved dogs I've run into and stopped to pet...then I remember the other dogs who are just a little on the wild side. As the Postal Service said, given the right conditions any dog can be inclined to bite. So what can dog owners do to prevent their dog from greeting the mailman with their teeth? First of all, try socializing your dog. The more used to people they are the less of a shock a mail carrier will be. Besides, if you have a brand-new puppy, why not show the puppy off? Dogs can also be territorial, and many dogs bite because they see the actions of the letter carrier as a threat. If your dog doesn't welcome "intruders" try keeping him away from windows or doors when the mail delivery comes - especially if your box is attached to the house or a package is being dropped on your porch. Finally, make sure your dog is trained with some basic commands - "no", "come" and, for those who jump "off", are good places to start. Controlling your pet with your voice can help with confrontations in many circumstances - not just with Postal Workers.
Of course, dog bites aren't just an issue in big cities or to those 42 individuals that were bitten last year. While close to 5,900 letter carriers were attacked last year, that number is closer to 4.7 million dog bites among the general population. Remember to always ask before petting a new dog, let the dog sniff your hand, and if a dog starts to run your way try to put something between you and the canine, then protect your face.
And, of course, be sure to think a good thought for letter carriers. They face a lot from day to day to get us our mail. The least we can do as dog owners is to make sure that our four legged pals are considerate too.