Why might it be that the Mechanical Dog is aggressive and hostile toward Montag in Fahrenheit 451?

The Mechanical Hound most likely acts aggressive and hostile towards Montag because it has been programmed to behave that way by Captain Beatty. Montag is becoming a political subversive and the Mechanical Hound is meant to hunt and kill dissidents.

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The famous science fiction novel Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury tells of a dystopian future in which books are illegal. Instead of putting out fires, firemen are trained to burn books and sometimes the homes of people who illegally keep them. At the fire station, they keep a Mechanical Hound, a grotesque eight-legged machine that can be programmed to sense chemical compositions so that it can track and sedate individual people.

Montag the fireman has been secretly collecting and hiding books. This has made him somewhat paranoid that he might be caught. In Part 1 of the novel, "The Hearth and the Salamander," Montag is at the station observing the Hound. When he touches it, it growls and gets up as if it is going to attack him. Montag quickly returns upstairs and claims that the Hound doesn't like him.

A clue as to why the Mechanical Hound might be aggressive and hostile towards Montag is found in Captain Beatty's answer. He says:

It doesn't like or dislike. It just functions. It's like a lesson in ballistics. It has a trajectory we decide on for it.

In other words, the Mechanical Hound doesn't do anything that it hasn't been programmed to do. Montag then points out that it might have been programmed to feel irritation at him. Beatty says he'll have technicians look at it, but at the close of their conversation, he adds, "You got a guilty conscience about something?" We see by this question that Beatty already suspects that Montag is not behaving properly. A possible explanation of the Hound's behavior is that Beatty has programmed it to behave just aggressively enough towards Montag so that Beatty can observe Montag to assess his guilt.

At the beginning of Part 3, "Burning Bright," Beatty is fully convinced of Montag's guilt and forces him to burn his own house and the books he has hoarded. When the Mechanical Hound attacks Montag after he kills Beatty, it is obvious that he has been specifically programmed to target Montag.

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