the petsmarty type place is probably the worst place to try to fix a dog reactivity problem . You are likely to meet more people like yourself , and there is no control of the environment or encounters , all which might fuel the very problem which you are trying to remedy. Too many possible "spontaneous eruptions". People have dogs there that are clearly confrontational - sometimes both the dog and the person !
They don't recognize their own dog's signals nor your's .
A socialized dog need not make contact or play with other dogs. The dog needs to be able to negotiate and deal with the presence of other dogs and be in an emotionally level, neutral, self controlled and controllable state. On and off leash .
The dogs that are reactive on leash but okay when off leash are in the drivers seat , acting out of frustration. I think that early socialization where there is too much uncontrolled exposure to other dogs without instruction . They see the dogs , they focus on the dogs , they are released to "go" , and as dogs do they focus on the one thing , the other dogs , anything else becoming an obstacle . Later when the expectation is there , they become near neurotic leading to all sorts of unwanted behaviour.
Too much freedom , too soon. A pup should be taught how YOU want him to behave in the presence of other dogs and when you have good attentive behaviour, a good bond established with yourself , manners and control to be able to be called back to you reliably , then you can give freedom to romp with dogs that you know .
In the meantime I would stay away from those places and situations where the dog may go into this aroused excitable state. Take him for walks at times and to places where there won't be encounters. Decompress, get to a calmed state , work your connectivity and obedience and positive reinforcement first. Then plan to set up a situation with a co operative dog owning friend , who has a dog with manners . Have them appear at a distance beyond your dogs arousal point. Have the dog move side ways then away from , not approaching . Have your dog attentive to you. Praise. That is a beginning.
good book http://www.amazon.com/Fired-Up-Frantic-Freaked-Out/dp/0985934921
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