If an older man walks up to a child on the street and starts screaming at the child, I don't expect the child to smack the man in the face and show him what's what. I expect an adult to step in and properly manage the situation.
Gotcha, Rocky is my first big dog. I guess because of his size, I need to be reminded that he's a baby. I was absolutely my fault that we got into that mess.
I think that to expect a 6 month old pup to stand up to an adult dog is expecting too much. Your dog looks to you to protect him, he is too young to have the confidence to be fearless.
I also have some experience with Dalmatians and I think the film 101 Dalmatians has a lot to answer for! They are powerful dogs that can be aggressive without socialization, and a lot of owners get their sweet puppies without realizing this about the breed. I have had a male Dalmatian, he was friendly with people he knew, but he was a much more fearsome guard dog than the Doberman and the GSD I have now, and God help ANY dog that tried to take him on. My dal wore a muzzle when he was off the lead, partly because children who had seen the Disney films would run up to him and be all over him, he never bit one, but it made me nervous and I was not prepared to take any chances with him...Some parents out there need educating, but that's a whole different subject!
As for whether you did the right thing, I am thankful to have never been in your position, and it sounds as though you are lucky that neither you or either dog was hurt...
I actually did have a Dalmatian (sorta) in the past life, he was the sweetest thing though...so, my wrong ideas were not from the movie (since I haven't watched it) but from my old limited experience.
---- read this thread regarding socialization
Your pup is 6 months old - a puppy - *if* he has protective instincts, it will begin to appear in another 6 months or so. At this time, it is his job to be a puppy, your job is to protect him from strange off leash dogs.
For safer exposure to other dogs, join a training class or a local club. You want controlled meetings with stable dogs for your pup.
Thanks for the link, will read up on that. What I have been doing everyday was to approach leashed dogs at the park and around the village, ask for permission from the guardian to approach, they normally hesitate since I have a big dog, but allow them after I assure him that he's "nice".
It's been working well so far, but I need to balance my need to "catch up" in my socialization with safe and effective methods of doing so.