The number of court cases involving attacks by dogs has increased by 62%, with a similar rise in successful prosecutions, according to a new report.
The Royal Mail welcomed the trend, as it reported that attacks on postal workers have fallen by 10% in the past year to just under 3,000.
The increase in cases taken to court in the six months to December 2014 followed a change in the law in England and Wales, giving postmen and women legal protection against attacks when they enter private property.
The figures were released as the Royal Mail launched its annual Dog Awareness Week, which aims to encourage responsible ownership.
Around eight postmen and women a day are attacked by dogs across the UK and the number rises by more than a quarter during the school holidays when parents and children are at home and dogs can sometimes be unsupervised in the garden.
Rob Jenson, Royal Mail operations director for the North, said: “Dog Awareness Week continues to go from strength to strength raising awareness of the problems of dog attacks and the problems postmen and women face when they are delivering the mail.
“However, last year there were still too many incidents and we need to reduce this number further as even one dog attack on our people is one too many.”
He added: “We know that 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. We would appeal to owners to keep their pets under control.”
New legislation was brought in last year to make it an offence for a dog to be dangerously out of control in both public and private, protecting individuals such as postal workers, health professionals and children.
Royal Mail, working in partnership with Dogs Trust are asking customers to keep their pets under control and have produced top tips in an attempt to reduce the number of dog attacks.
Top tips for dog owners
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 postmen and women deliver your mail 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.