Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Mailman

Question: Why don't they train mailmen on how to handle dogs?  If they do train them, they need to do a better job.

Ok, let me tell you what just happened.

Cody is a spoiled rotten brat.  It's true.  However, he serves one wonderful service, and that's guard dog.  I live in the city.  I drive all over town to houses I've never been to before.  Sometimes things can get nervous.  Cody is praised for barking as people approach (the more ferocious the better) and for barking when I give a command.  He is also praised when he stops barking when I tell him to.  Cody knows his job and takes it seriously.  He knows not to bite, and he's never tried.  The most I've seen him do is sniff.

Our mailman is scared of dogs, and Cody terrifies him.  I would probably be nervous of growling, barking, 60 lb dog too, but this guy has actually jumped a fence as we were walking down the sidewalk (Cody was happy and wagging his tail in a beautiful heel). 

Today, everything happened as normal.  The mailman approached, Cody barked and growled.  One thing was different, though.  I had forgotten to shut the storm door when I came in.  Usually, this wouldn't be a problem because there's another door.  I don't know if Cody somehow opened the door or if it wasn't latched all the way, but he got out today.  Imagine my surprise when I heard the mailman yell, "Get your dog!  Get your dog!"  I ran to the door, and the mailman was running down the sidewalk with Cody behind him.  When the mailman turned to look behind him, he tripped and fell.  Cody bumped him with his nose, ran to pee on a bush, and then came to me.  No teeth contact was made.

Some people would say that this means I have a bad dog.  The truth is, though, Cody is doing exactly what I trained him to do: Act ferocious, but be a big baby at heart.  The problem is, the mailman RAN AWAY!

Rule number 1: If a dog is chasing you, stop running.  You have no chance of outrunning the dog (unless you're an ultra-marathoner and had a head start), and by running, you are merely encouraging the dog to chase you.  In fact, in training, I encourage people to run from their dogs as a game to help teach the come command.

Rule number 2: If you are, in fact, worried about being bitten, use what you have for defense.  Most people have some additional layer of clothing (jacket, shoe, etc.) Take it off and throw it at the dog.  At the least, this may distract him long enough for you to get away.  At the best, it will actually scare him off.  The mailman carries a SACK of letters.  When I was little, I would use a similar sack (aka a backpack) and swing it around my front to protect me from jumping dogs.  He should have done the same.

Rule number 3: Once you know that help has arrived, stop hollering.  This will only feed the dog's excitement.  Cesar Milan says it best.  "Calm, Assertive."  If you can't just be quiet, say chant over and over.  This could be, "One, two, three four, I declare a thumb war. " or "Little Miss Muffet..."  Basically, take your mind off of screaming.  The same goes for horses.

These are 3 simple rules.  Everyone should know them, but the mailman should have studied them profusely.  This mailman was lucky this time.  Cody could have been the dog who likes to bite.  He could have been much more aggressive.  Instead, he's really just a big baby who's been taught to bark.  For the mailman's sake, though, I think I'll be double checking the doors from here on out.

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