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Why do dogs dislike some strangers more than others?:

Dogs almost always greet strangers who enter the home with barking and sniffing. But the dog may quickly accept one person but not another.

The reason can be found by looking at the person. If a person is relaxed, calm, and moves with smooth movements, he or she will tend to calm the dog down.

If, however, the person is tense, or moves with quick, jerky motions, he or she might activate some aggression in a dog because these movements mimic the kind found in hostile or nervous canine encounters.

If the person is afraid of dogs, he or she may make retreat movements. Retreating signals a dog to advance -- and possibly even attack. Rapid retreat can make a barking dog feel superior, and it will respond accordingly.

Often, people who get along with dogs will greet a dog by approaching it and extending a hand for some gentle contact. This can make the barking dog turn into a happy tail-wagger looking for attention. Important point: This technique will only work with a dog that is barking and/or jumping with tail wagging.

A dog that is growling or snarling (or possibly silent), is standing rigidly, and is giving you a fixed stare, is a dog that you should NOT touch. The best approach is to stand still and do nothing. A dog like this has a high level of aggression and any movement you make could signal it to attack. Complete stillness reduces your visual impact on the dog. You may have to wait in absolute immobility until the dog's owner comes along to retrieve it.

Fortunately, most dogs do not greet strangers with this much hostility. Most dogs just bark and jump around, tail wagging vigorously. These dogs can be won over quickly and turned into friends.

Source: Illustrated Dogwatching, by Desmond Morris, Crescent Books, New York, 1996, p. 139.