We avoid all character toys and rank Dora right up there with the worst because the licensing is so in your face. My daughter has never watched the show - but when we let her pick wrapping paper for her 2nd birthday she chose a bag with Dora on it because it had "a little girl and a monkey" on it. She named the girl and we had the bag about a month and that was that. We try to just go with the flow and not attach a positive or negative to anything.
When picking TV shows for our family (our DD is 28 months) we try to use shows that have real people, children, and puppets. We feel that animation is confusing at her age and doesn't represent life very well. We watch (very seldomly) Sesame Street, Yo Gabba Gabba, and Barney. At other people's houses she has been exposed to movies (Pooh and a few Disney Films) and has been either scared or uninterested. We hope to keep it that way for a while more.