Danish expert takes the bite out of mail carrying

Local dogs have been making meals of mailmen, so authorities are teaching letter carriers how to read canine behavior signals and stay out of harm's way. About 65 letter carriers in this west Danish town have been bitten by dogs this year, a post office spokeswoman said this week.

Fifteen of the carriers were seriously bitten.

The town's 325 mail carriers will learn from dog psychologist Roger Abrantes how to interpret signals from Rover or Fido. And they will learn what to do if threatened.

``If the dog is a little bit afraid of the postman, the worst thing he can do is to go directly towards the dog smiling,'' Mr. Abrantes said.

``Showing the teeth and smiling with the open face means in dog language that you are showing dominance,'' he said.

A letter carrier - or anyone else facing a threatening dog - should crouch low and avoid smiling or making big eyes.

Abrantes also recommends making chewing sounds for 20 seconds. That will pacify almost all mammals, Abrantes assures his students.

A dominantly aggressive dog has big eyes, raised ears and tail, and a steeply-angled nose. But dogs with lowered ears, retracted lips, and bent legs are more submissive, he said.

Abrantes has already given a course on dog psychology to electricity-meter readers.

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