I've set up my fair share of Macs over the years, but I've never been able to pinpoint what setting tells OS X that you're ok with being able to drag-resize a window vertically so that it goes behind the dock (assuming the dock is in its default position at the bottom of the screen), as opposed to only being able to resize it vertically so that it is touching the top of the dock's "space".
My work computer is a 21" iMac Core 2 Duo and it drives me crazy because I'll quickly drag-resize a window larger by pulling down and to the right but instead of staying locked vertically above the dock it'll slide behind it which I don't like so then I've gotta jiggle the window around to get it all back into visible space... my home computer (6 core tower) doesn't have this problem even though I've, from what I can tell, set it up nearly identically.
Both machines running the latest version of snow leopard.
Here's a video captured from my machine at home showing the window resize behaviour I prefer. If it helps at all I can do another one from my work machine tomorrow showing the windows resizing behind the dock.