In response to the Columbus Dispatch article on Columbus dogs biting Postal Workers. I am concerned about the advice given by Meghan Herron who suggests, “removing dogs from the room when a postal worker approaches the house”.
“That type of learning is going to take 100 times to overcome,” Herron said, adding that ideally, training should start at a young age.
Removing dogs from the room when a postal worker approaches most likely is impossible for most dog owners who work during the day, let alone repeating this pattern over 100 times to help the dog overcome the aggression.
At Acme Canine we deal with this issue several times a day with clients and their dogs. Most people don’t understand that a dog who has too many freedoms develops behavior problems like this. Teaching obedience develops self-control in a dog. When a dog has self-control they think before they react.
In addition a dog that bites is a pattern that has developed over years. At first the dog barks out the window, the Postal worker leaves. The dog thinks they scared them off. Coming back again day after day builds frustration in the dog which results in first snapping. If the dog gets the right reaction (which would be almost second nature for someone to retract in fear) and the dog’s confidence builds. Finally the dog has the confidence to make contact with skin when they bite.
A side note is dogs that are fearful but have the confidence to bite will usually go after the person when the person’s back is turned…the heel nippers.
In addition to teaching obedience, it helps to use a spray bottle to correct any barking out of a window, not just at the Postal Worker. This is called an “environmental correction” because you do not say anything when you spray the water. Rather you use peripheral vision and a stream not a mist on the water bottle. When the dog barks, you walk up to the window to look out. At that time, without directly looking at the dog, you spray the dog’s face whether they are barking at that time or not (there is a 5 second window to praise or correct a dog which they will associate with the action). Then tell the dog, “good quiet”.
This will teach the dog not to bark out the window and stop the pattern of wanting to go after Postal Workers. And positive results occur within a week or so if obedience is being taught.