Whole Dog Journal's Blog April 11, 2014

Barking at FedEx and UPS (But Not the Postal Delivery)

Posted at 01:54PM - Comments: (14)

It never fails: Im 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 cant 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 doesnt bark, so maybe thats 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 doesnt bark at the garbage truck, the water meter readers (they dont 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 Ottos 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 Im 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, Im usually not paying attention to the sounds of the outside world. During FedEx and UPS delivery hours, Im usually working and deep in thought, completely vulnerable to the sudden WOOF! Hes a big dog, and has a BIG, deep voice, and I swear its shortening my life.

What sets off your dogs alarms? And what have you done about it?

Comments (14)

My clients dog, a Bichon is blind only 10 pounds and consistently chases ONLY the UPS truck. I have done much research and found that UPS trucks engines are on the same pitch as dogs hearing. My question is this: Does anyone/company make hearing plugs for dogs that will tone down the noise, not block it out entirely.

I feel that if I can reduce the pitch, she will not longer be hurting, and therefore be reluctant to chase UPS trucks. She chases NOTHING else.

Does anyone know where to get something like this? Thank you so much for your help!!!

Posted by: MJ Mentink | September 30, 2015 3:22 PM    Report this comment

I always say that if I win the lottery I will hire someone to wash my windows....on the inside ....every day. We always have a lot of dogs in the house....resident dogs and foster dogs and unfortunately the dogs who are not front porch barkers when they come soon learn the bad habit. We live at the end of a long driveway so any car or delivery truck is coming to us and the dogs know it and deliver a raucous greeting. Workmen or delivery men always remember being at our house. I do have the dogs sit one by one but it does not last....it is just too exciting. I just heard from one of my adopters who adopted a sweet Shih Tzu mix from me and she advised me that he is patrolling the dogs on the block from his comfortable chair in front of the big living room window. They think it is very funny.....thank heavens.

Posted by: Olivia | April 16, 2014 5:32 PM    Report this comment

My 2 Rotties are 8 yrs for Baron and 5 yrs for Nova. Baron is the house protector and will put up quite a barking rage if someone even dares to walk on our street.
His "territory" extends to as far as he can see and that's quite a way down the block. The UPS man and similar people are not to touch our house. He was great as a pup. The people gave him treats and he liked to have them approach because he would get something good. Now, since he is in the house (that's the problem) he barks and they go away, so that's his reward. I had a specialist in the Karen Pryor Clicker Training Method, come to the house to help. We both agreed that he will never be completely silent (and I'm not sure I want him to be) but his barking has diminished, considerably. He sees someone and gives a few controlled woofs and comes running to the kitchen to get frozen green beans that I keep for him in the freezer. Nova, is the "Angel". As soon as Baron woofs, she appears in the kitchen with the look of ":I'm the good one" and she gets green beans, too. I will never completely conquer this reaction, but it is better and that's all that matters. Dogs bark!

Posted by: Rochelle | April 16, 2014 8:57 AM    Report this comment

My 2 Rotties are 8 yrs for Baron and 5 yrs for Nova. Baron is the house protector and will put up quite a barking rage if someone even dares to walk on our street.
His "territory" extends to as far as he can see and that's quite a way down the block. The UPS man and similar people are not to touch our house. He was great as a pup. The people gave him treats and he liked to have them approach because he would get something good. Now, since he is in the house (that's the problem) he barks and they go away, so that's his reward. I had a specialist in the Karen Pryor Clicker Training Method, come to the house to help. We both agreed that he will never be completely silent (and I'm not sure I want him to be) but his barking has diminished, considerably. He sees someone and gives a few controlled woofs and comes running to the kitchen to get frozen green beans that I keep for him in the freezer. Nova, is the "Angel". As soon as Baron woofs, she appears in the kitchen with the look of ":I'm the good one" and she gets green beans, too. I will never completely conquer this reaction, but it is better and that's all that matters. Dogs bark!

Posted by: Rochelle | April 16, 2014 8:57 AM    Report this comment

I have three very annoying reactive dogs and my male rat terrier barks incessantly at anything and everything in front of the house or coming up the street (people, bicycles, UPS/FedEx, the mailman, and he does not stop for what seems like a half hour, even though it is probably 5-7 minutes. The 2 girls join him, but stop sooner. I have tried yelling, which (obviously!) doesn't work. I thank you for your suggestion of using treats as they are all very food motivated. Wish me luck!

Posted by: kimfatty | April 15, 2014 3:17 PM    Report this comment

In her prime, my now elderly pitbull used to love to race the UPS and FedEx trucks along our very long fence line. Because she was surprisingly fast for her build and breed, they would slow down to let her get to the fence line, and then pace her down the road. If she wasn't out front, they would beep their horn for her! She loved it! Even now, in her last years and with major arthritis, if we encounter a delivery truck while out on a walk, she quivers and whines with excitement. At first I was a littler leery of what she would do if she "caught one" -- if one came into our property to make a delivery. But she was always her friendly goofy self with the delivery person, and could care less about the parked truck. For her it was all about the motion, and the special engine noise those trucks seem to have because she could usually hear them coming a mile away.

Posted by: BeckyA | April 15, 2014 1:38 PM    Report this comment

We live in a rural area and need to know when someone is at the gate, so the dogs bark to tell us. The sound of barking changes depending on what's out there. And the location of the barking tells me whether the dogs think it's serious. If the dogs bark on the lanai, it could be FedEx, people walking along the road, horseback riders, or the gecko hiding in the deck chairs. If the dogs race downstairs into the dog pen, they are barking at the annoying feral cats or a human (intruder) bushwacking up the side of our fence. I always check why our dogs are barking and give names to each event, which the dogs learn quickly. "Delivery!" means the dogs get to sniff the package and maybe it's for them. "Noisy car" or "it's the Neighbor" gets the dogs to quiet down. I want them to bark to alert me, and then I reassure them that they've done a good job. Any serious barking is encouraged. (I wish the feral cats would stay off our land, stop killing our birds and pooping everywhere!) If I lived in a neighborhood these methods probably wouldn't work. But out here I listen to the level of seriousness in each bark, then let the dogs know whether the "threat" is serious or not. No treats, just tone of voice and consistency.

Posted by: SundogsHawaii | April 15, 2014 12:56 PM    Report this comment

We use to have a very friendly Mail Man who would make a big deal when patting and playing with Mandy, our Golden Retriever. It was not long before she would start barking everytime he drove his mail truck down the opposit side of the street, delivering mail. Soon she would stop only to start barking again when he returned to our side delivering mail. One day I mentioned to him that somehow she seemed to always know when he was around. In reply he said his mail truck was equipped with an alarm system to drive dogs away and that was what she heard. From then on when he remembered to turn it off she would be unaware that he was in the neighborhood. Mystry solved.

Posted by: We use to have a very friendly Mail Man who would give lots of friendly pats to Mandy, our Golden retriever. | April 15, 2014 12:14 PM    Report this comment

Our dachshund, Captain Morgan, has a terrifyingly loud bark and he thinks that anything or anyone on our street must be driven away. He especially detests delivery trucks/drivers and the mail carrier. We don't know how he knows when they are in the area but, like Otto, Cap can be sound asleep and jump up barking and run for the door. When the mail carrier comes - which seems to be at a different time every day - Cap goes totally crazy and charges the door. Two of our previous male doxies were the same way but eventually learned to use their "inside" voice. I guess with Cap I will try treat training. Love the blog!

Posted by: Caps Mommy | April 15, 2014 10:57 AM    Report this comment

My dalmatian/pit mix, Sadie Blue, goes crazy over the cats that live across the street. We are in an apt. up 1 floor so Sadie B. lays out on the balcony and watches them for hours. When there is a sighting, she barks her head off. Until the day I started redirecting her attention to her ball. Now when she starts to bark I ask, "where's your ball?" She runs and finds a ball and goes back to watching the action but now when she barks she has her mouth full of tennis ball. Her head flops all over trying to bark around that ball in her mouth. It is hilarious!! Even better - 75% of the time if she sees a cat (or whatever is making her want to bark) she goes and gets her ball FIRST without being asked.

Posted by: WhiteRiver | April 15, 2014 10:49 AM    Report this comment

My dogs only bark with the UPS truck stops in front of our house. Why? Well... because they LOVE him! He gives them dog treats, or leaves them on the package if I am not home. It's not hysterical barking, more of "Hey!! He's here!!!" - so maybe just a few woofs. Now that our Westie girl is losing her hearing, she doesn't always hear the truck. They don't necessarily bark at the FedEx vehicles that stop, but they do come to the front door with me "just in case" they get a treat. The USPS stuff is delivered to our mailbox across the street so they don't really pay attention to this. Even if we have a package and the person brings it to the house, the dogs are unconcerned. No treats = meh :)

Posted by: KimberlyO | April 15, 2014 10:06 AM    Report this comment

Lali knows the sound of the mailman's truck which he parks in front of the neighbor's, which she can see through the long window beside the front door if she stands sideways....and she is ON ALERT waiting for him to dare to approach. She is a force to be reckoned with and I can't train her alone or sporadically.

She is also set off by sudden moves (which she senses are a threat to my well being or hers) and loud noises (like my near deaf 96 year old father speaking in a volume loud enough for himself to hear). Or people daring to walk past our door when in the bedroom without announcing themselves.

I have tried to body block her at the front window with some success, she goes around the corner to the slot where the mail is left then, or I will try to distract her in another room, like taking her in the kitchen and running the water to do dishes.

Posted by: robin r | April 14, 2014 11:15 PM    Report this comment

Oh, boy! The dogs next door, or walking down the street. He goes nuts!! We are oblivious and wonder what the heck has pushed his button. Then we see the dog laying in the grass playing with butterflies!! It's insane and difficult to get his attention to simmer down. He is a Dachshund!

Posted by: Robyn Wendt | April 14, 2014 6:37 PM    Report this comment

Rusty (our 18 month old Rottweiler) also thinks he needs to scare off certain trucks or people walking by carrying packages. He also has a very big bark!! We have taught him to "whisper" on command, which means to give a very tiny woof. If he starts to bark we tell him to whisper and he does. Many times now he remembers on his own and just "whispers" at whatever he doesn't like. He also know to speak (loud bark) and growl on command and loves to "practice" for treats. All were easy to teach by just catching the behavior we wanted and treating. Only took one or two times and he had it down!
Now after we tell him to whisper we are also telling him "it's ok" and to "leave it and go to his spot" to try to get him to understand that he does not need to react. Then he gets a treat for ignoring the distraction and sitting in his spot. He is doing much better at ignoring things.

Posted by: KathyD | April 14, 2014 12:58 PM    Report this comment

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