We usually think of our furry canine pals as man's best friend, but sometimes he can also be a rather terrifying enemy.
The most fearsome dog breed of all may come as something of a surprise. Data from leading pet insurer Animal Friends shows that Labrador Retrievers are responsible for the highest number of attacks on humans that result in personal injury claims.
Of these, a whopping third of incidents happen to post or delivery men. The leading breeds of dog taking a disliking to the arrival of your letters and parcels are German Shepherds, Staffordshire Bull Terriers and Border Collies.
A recent study from the Royal Mail showed that there were 2,600 dog attacks against their staff last year, with the most taking place in Nottinghamshire. We have no idea why, we'd have thought it would have been Barking.
36 per cent of attacks take place at the front door, while 35 per cent occur in the front garden - which we like to imagine would be a situation straight out of a cartoon, where a slumbering beast is awoken from his kennel and chases the postie out through the gate. It's probably a more serious matter than that though isn't it, so we'll stop making jokes about it. There are also a 10 per cent rise in attacks during school holidays - possibly due to the animals being allowed to roam more freely than normal, with more people around.
Dr Roger Mugford, an animal psychologist, has advised postpeople to befriend the dogs and keep them happy by always carrying a bag of treats.
He said: “Once a post man befriends a dog, they will be friends for life. To say that dogs can smell fear I am sure is very true. The way we move and the way we think is communicated to a dog. Dogs are really good at picking up on people and they remember everything, so the best advice is to make friends with them rather than enemies. More male postmen are attacked than women and that’s because men tend to become aggressive and defend themselves which can make things worse. But it is good to remember that it is remarkable that more dogs do not bite more people as they have a pack mentality and their family becomes their pack so they are protective.”
And watch out for those Labradors - they can pop up when you least expect it.