The Royal Mail is calling on dog owners to keep their pets under tighter control after a spate of recent attacks.

It says there have been around 17 attacks on postmen in the Swindon area alone in the past three months.The Royal Mail’s head of external relations for the South and West, Richard Smith says: “It is a serious problem. Dog attacks are the biggest cause of injury to postmen and, consequentially, sick leave that we have.Sometimes dogs can cause horrific injuries – one postwoman once lost part of her ear.

” We try to get across to owners that their pets can turn into something nasty when the postman delivers and we do urge them to keep them under control. Small dogs are as bad – if not worse – than large ones”.Pet behaviour counsellor, David Appleby believes problems arise as many dogs see postmen as easy targets.

” Dogs feel confident to display territorial-related aggression because they learn that the postman will always go away if they do. They don’t realise that he will leave anyway – they believe that it is their behaviour that is having that is forcing them off the premises.”

David advises potential victims to carry food or titbits as a preventative measure.” This helps to build up a relationship with the dog before he starts displaying aggression,” he says.”However, it is the owner’s responsibility to ensure that their dogs do not have the opportunity to approach the postmen. Even well-trained dogs when not under the control of their owner can display this kind of behaviour.”