A few months ago we were taking a class to learn the basics of rally just to have another activity to do. While Obi and I were doing our course, 2 different dogs charged at Obi, teeth bared full speed at him because when asked to keep their dogs out of the room while a dog was doing their course the owners decided that they knew better than the trainer and reentered the room to sit in separate corners while waiting for their next two turns. Thankfully 1 only got to the end of their leash and the other once putting their owner off balance was able to controlled again with the help of the trainer. But it still took Obi's jumping back away from them.
Since then Obi hasn't been the same with other dogs. He used to love interacting and playing with them and yes he would bark and get excited at the sight of other dogs but, he was never aggressive and he was really really calming down with his excitement. Now Obi is reactive at any dogs he sees unless they are a Yorkie size (we have one). I hired a private trainer who is also a behaviorist (I can attach her word for word advice) and her advice was to treat Obi for not reacting, throw treats on the floor and have him "find it" when he needs a distraction, keep distance to where he is most comfortable, etc.
Right after this he starting lunging at cars when they pass by, could be coincidence, could be butterfly effect, could be prey drive, all the above, etc. The trainers advice was basically the same, distractions.
I've been doing all these things every walk for months now and there is no progress and I am trying so hard not to get frustrated with this situation.
I constantly think I wish I hadn't taken that class. Even if the car problem was still there, maybe the reactivity to dogs wouldn't be. Who knows.
I just miss feeling comfortable bringing Obi anywhere without worry of him acting out. Just a couple months before the event we passed our CGC and CGCA and were well on our way to the CGCU, he was doing so well.
He just turned one when this happened, he is now 1 year 4 months, and I know some of these changes can just be from growing up and not wanting the interactions anymore. But I want him to act civilized. Even if he doesn't want to be around other dogs, I'm trying very hard to teach him that we still need to walk by them with some sense (same with cars).
A lot of this was just needing to vent. I'm feeling frustrated and I know that it takes work to get through these things and I'm more than willing to do that. It's just so irritating feeling like we were PUT into this situation because of two pet owners being irresponsible.
Maybe a little different way to look at this, or at least how I would. Like you said he's maturing, his perception of things and his awareness is going to change. Drives are kicking in now. They will even more around 2, and even more around maybe 4 or so. You get a dog that has some strong drives, classes, rally, things like that can be very restrictive for a dog that would do better being able to use those drives, or just to keep it simple and generalize, I'll just say drive. I look at it as not to different from holding him back from things all the time. You build frustration over time and then when something like this happens, you kinda open it all up. I think the dogs that are meant for rally, are the ones you don't have to remove other dogs from the room for.
I think throwing treats to distract him from something is backwards. The car is the distraction, not you. Basic obedience. Correct behavior is rewarded, wrong behavior is corrected. The correction can be as simple as a verbal no if that works, and the reward can be a good boy if praise works. Its making a clear distinction.
I like using distance and playing to make things nothing but background, then losing the distance gradually to keep things as background and not important. I don't demand look at me or anything like that, because I think in a way thats similar to opposition reflex, it actually makes something I want indifference to more important. I don't try to fight against their natural awareness of things. Most important about all of it for me though, I find it a lot more fun. I know parts of this are similar to what you're saying, but I think there's some subtle differences that would make a big difference for you.