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Postal workers all across Austria will now be carrying two bags on their daily deliveries – one for the mail and another full of dog treats!
Nationwide, Austrian postal workers endured a total of 47 dog attacks last year. To combat the problem, postal workers hope to show dogs that they’re friendly, not a threat.
Austrian Post AG, Kurt Obermann, explained to The Local that providing employees with dog treats was a new concept to protect against aggressive dogs who took their ‘guarding’ duties very seriously. And, pet owners, dog trainers, and animal behaviorists are on board!
Dogs very commonly view postal workers as a threat. The workers enter their territory each day and then very quickly leave. When dogs see the postal worker approaching the home, they often bark and growl. When the postal worker delivers the mail and leaves, the dog’s barking and growling behavior is reinforced. In other words, the dogs think their behavior is what caused the stranger approaching their home to leave, and thus continue to do it every day.
That’s a big reason it’s so difficult to train dogs not to bark at strangers, delivery people, or postal workers that visit the home.
But, Austria’s new policy of providing treats to the dogs they encounter on the job just might do the trick!
Dogs will begin to associate the visitor with yummy food and begin to welcome their daily visits with wagging tails rather than barks and growls.
Previously, many Austrian postal workers carried treats they bought with their own money. But, a local pet food manufacturer has agreed to donate about ten tons of healthy treats to postal workers in support of this new initiative.