Although a Dalmatian loves to ride in the car to just about anywhere, they’re not back-seat dogs in any other sense of the word. Their inner world contains wonders around every corner and no dangers that are quicker, tougher or smarter than they are. A Dalmatian is not a “porch dog” that sits and looks at a guest or visitor until some unknown cue prompts it to get up and investigate or greet. They are instantly curious about nearly everything and won’t hesitate to go see what’s up.
The Dalmatian breed standard calls for poise and alertness, and a stable, outgoing, and dignified temperament. You should understand that this translates into a dog that does not go wagging up to any stranger and lick them up one side and down the other. This means that when a Dalmatian meets strangers, he usually prefers to go up to them at his own pace, investigating fairly thoroughly before becoming the wagging, silly bouncing friend.
Many people are so taken with the dog’s looks and bright expression that they forget introductions and manners. They’ll rush up to the dog, arms and hands extended, bending down, with body language that says to the dog, “I want to grab you and pet you and touch you.” The Dalmatian understands the body language to say “I want to grab you and hold you in one place and prevent you from moving around me and checking me out while I check you out.”
Throughout early history, the Dalmatian was bred to take control of the streets and make judgments on whether things were safe or not for the horses and masters. You can’t make judgments while you’re being held in one spot and examined. This isn’t to say that the Dalmatian’s instincts should dictate your routines, or that he can’t be trained to be appropriately sociable; however, they are more likely to meet someone by going through the steps of investigation and judgment before acting like a wagging fool.
What if they don’t like someone after investigation? Sometimes this happens, and most of the time it’s for reasons the owners can’t comprehend. When this occurs, it’s rarely an aggressive scene. The Dalmatian’s reaction is more likely to be one of avoidance, perhaps a quiet grumble or groaning and a move to the next room, from which he can keep an eye on things until the stranger leaves. Your first impression as an owner is to feel like scolding your dog for unsociable behavior the judgment of a Dalmatian has always turned out to have an element of soundness.