Barking at FedEx and UPS (But Not the Postal Delivery)
Posted at 01:54PM - Comments: (14)
It never fails: I’m concentrating, reading or writing at my computer. Otto is snoozing on the floor or loveseat behind me. Time flows. The outside world fades from my consciousness. And then, from right behind me, “WOW WOW WOW WOOF!” As I pull myself off the ceiling, I realize that once again, and from a dead sleep, Otto heard a FedEx or UPS truck round the corner several doors down from my house. He just has to announce its imminent passage by our door – or, even more outrageous, its stopping in front of our house, and the entry through the front gate, of that guy, the one who leaves packages on the porch.
Why oh why do dogs get so riled up about delivery trucks? And why can’t Otto make the connection between the arrival of so many tasty treats and toys for him to try, and the nice people who deliver them? My only theory is that he does it because it works; the trucks leave very quickly when he barks. Of course, the trucks also leave very quickly when he doesn’t bark, so maybe that’s a bad theory. It must be the unpredictable entry of the stranger through the gate and THUMP of packages on the porch. Especially because he doesn’t bark at the garbage truck, the water meter readers (they don’t come in the gate, the meter is out under the sidewalk), or the local buses that pass by every hour or so and sound a lot like the delivery trucks (to me).
Otto used to wait for and bark at the postal delivery people, too, but since the folks who have our route started carrying dog treats, now they get the benefit of Otto’s doubt. He wags his tail and whines, instead, when he hears the sound of the mail cart being pushed down the sidewalk. When the postal workers leave packages on the porch, they almost always detour off the porch and give Otto a cookie through the chain-link gate at the side of the house. They have to go out of their way to do it, yet they almost always do. And that once-in-a-while cookie has made all the difference.
If I’m paying attention to the sounds of the outside world, and by some luck, I hear the truck before he does, I can say, “Otto!” to get his attention, and reach (or get up to go find) a treat. This completely forestalls the sudden loud WOOF!, although he still will look toward the door and make a soft growling noise in his throat as he crunches his cookie. The problem is, I’m usually not paying attention to the sounds of the outside world. During FedEx and UPS delivery hours, I’m usually working and deep in thought, completely vulnerable to the sudden WOOF! He’s a big dog, and has a BIG, deep voice, and I swear it’s shortening my life.
What sets off your dog’s alarms? And what have you done about it?