Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: California's Central Coast
First of all, at the beach you need to remember that many off-leash dogs may not be trained well and many owners who don't pay attention to their dogs behavior. So it's good you keep him on leash for now. We tried giving treats as a positive distraction and soothing verbal tones, like good girl, nice, etc. when we are approaching a dog or passing, and if my dog did not react or lunge, but stayed focused on the heel command, then she got petting and treats after successfully passing a dog. We worked from using a prong collar to a flat collar. This especially worked well in our neighborhood, probably because she could smell many dogs on the ground, trees, fire hydrants. For me the hardest part is when the two dogs meet, not to pull on the leash, to trust my dog, I usually say "nice", "goodgirl" etc. So after some months of this, my dog has not been reactive at all, some other dogs have been reactive, but usually the results are that she is making new friends. The beach is still too busy for us, unless I can go at a time when there is only one or two dogs or people. It's hard because like your dog she really just wants to play.
Also it's off your topic - but I hate when people say, "killer dog" or "he's mean"! Right there, those people are throwing out a negative attitude and I think our dogs pick up on that. Last night we were walking through our park with our leashed dog, a couple approached near us with their 2 small off leash laws (breaking the rules/law) and had the nerve to ask me if our dog is going to eat one of theirs. I said she might! Nothing is 100% guaranteed, I cannot predict how his dogs will act. The thing that really irritated me is that our dog was well controlled, but silly and goofy at the same time, not showing any sign of viciousness, she had a stuffed, green frog in her mouth that she would romp with.