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
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
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
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.