Royal Mail Launch UK’s First Dog Awareness Week

Royal Mail Dog Awareness Week logoRoyal Mail has launched the UK’s first Dog Awareness Week to raise awareness of the issue of dog attacks on postmen and women and to appeal to dog owners to keep animals under control when the postman calls.

Royal Mail, working alongside the Communication Workers Union (CWU), are supported in this campaign by a wide range of organisations and animal charities including Dogs Trust, DEFRA, Blue Cross, Wood Green the Animals Charity and the Association of Dog Wardens.

The issue of dog attacks is a significant concern. Since April 2011, there have been over 5,500 attacks on Royal Mail postmen and women, some leading to a permanent disabling injury. Attacks have resulted in the loss of 4,100 working days due to injuries. Postmen and women need to be able to do their job without risk of injury.

These attacks rise during the school holidays and in the summer months when parents and children are at home and dogs are sometimes allowed unsupervised in the garden, or out onto the street without restraints.

"Over 2,400 postmen and women were attacked across the UK by dogs from April 2012 to April 2013. While the number of attacks has fallen by 24 per cent nationally since 2011, it still remains unacceptably high and we are committed to driving this down further. Every dog attack on one of our postmen or women is one dog attack too many" say Royal Mail.

A range of activities will be taking place during Dog Awareness Week including:

  • Lord De Mauley, Parlimentary Under Secretary at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) will become postman for the day when he goes out on a delivery round with a postman in London who has previously been a victim of a dog attack.
  • Royal Mail postmen and women speak about their own experiences of dog attacks.
  • Dog Awareness posters in partnership with Dogs Trust, will be in place in all Royal Mail enquiry offices giving dog owners tips on how they can help.
  • Dogs Trust and Wood Green will be holding question and answer sessions on their Facebook pages with their behaviourists.
Dog Awareness Week runs from 15th-19th July 2013.

Shaun Davis, Director of Health, Safety and Wellbeing for Royal Mail Group said: "Clearly most dogs are not inherently dangerous, however, even the most placid animal can be prone to attack if it feels its territory is being threatened. Our first priority as an employer is to ensure the welfare and safety of our people who provide a valuable service to our customers and we appeal to owners to keep their pets under control, especially if they know their pets have a territorial nature."

Dave Joyce, CWU health, safety and environment officer said: "Dog Awareness Week is an important initiative to raise the profile of dog attacks and the risk that family pets and security dogs can pose to postal workers carrying out their everyday duties.

"Royal Mail staff really are at the sharp end of dog attacks, with thousands suffering injuries each year which range from minor scratches to lost fingers, severe scarring and psychological issues. There is a lot that dog owners can do to prevent an attack taking place - simply keeping your dog out of reach of the letterbox or front door is a great way of preventing any unintended injuries.

"It's especially important during the school holidays when children may let dogs out. Your pet will react very differently to your postman or woman than to your own family and behaviour can be unpredictable - we've seen it all too often. Please think and act to prevent the opportunity of an attack."

Royal Mail in partnership with Dogs Trust, are asking customers to keep their pets under control and are issuing top tips in an attempt to reduce the number of dog attacks.

Lynn Barber, Head of Training and Behaviour at Dogs Trust said; "We fully support the Royal Mail's Dog Awareness week and hope that it raises awareness amongst dog owners about taking that little bit of extra time to train and help their dog for when the postman knocks on the door. Often the reaction of the dog is misconceived as plain aggression rather than the reality which is fear that manifests itself as aggression.

"There are some easy tips on how to avoid drama when the postman arrives; even taking your dog out for a walk during the time that you know the post will be delivered. Always remain calm with your dog and use positive methods to get him used to the postman arriving. All of our top tips for helping your dog get over this fear, and indeed avoid it developing in the first place, are here"

Top Tips for dog owners in partnership with Dogs Trust

Even the most lovable dog can be a danger to postal staff. Dogs are territorial by nature and if they feel they need to protect their family, they can become unpredictable.

Here are some ideas to help your postman deliver your post in safety:
  • Ensure your dog is out of the way before the postman or woman arrives. Place your pet in the back garden or a faraway room.
  • If you have a back garden, please close off the access, in case your dog could get round to the front when the postman calls.
  • Dog attacks can happen when you've opened the door to sign for an item. Please keep your dog in another room before answering the door and make sure children don't open the door, as dogs can push by them and attack.
  • Give your dog some food or a toy to occupy them while your mail is being delivered
  • Wait 10 minutes after your mail has arrived to let your pet back into your hallway. Keep everything as calm and low-key as possible.
  • If your dog likes to attack your mail consider installing a wire letter receptacle. It will protect your post, and your postman's fingers
  • If it's not practical for you to keep your dog away from a postman delivering your mail, please consider fitting a secure mailbox on the edge of your property.
Update - 17th July 2013

In further support of Royal Mail's Dog Awareness Week, Dogs Trust is stepping up the real life training its rescue dogs receive.

In recognition of the real problems postal and other community workers face when visiting private properties, the charity is installing letterbox facilities in all its rehoming centres with training rooms to help its resident dogs to learn to love the postman's arrival.

Eight of the 18 Dogs Trust rehoming centres in the UK already use letterboxes in their real life training rooms but the charity is keen to see that the majority of the 16,000 dogs that it cares for each year have access to similar acclimatisation facilities. Where appropriate, staff will work with dogs to address the underlying fear that is often the trigger for aggression towards visitors to a home.