How to train my dog to stop barking at other dogs when on walks?

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I have a small/medium 3 year old dog. He is extremely socialized—we visit an off leash dog park daily and he never has any problems with other dogs. He’s playful, super friendly with humans and most other dogs. He either tries to stay out of the way of bigger dogs, or tries to get smaller dogs to play with him. Sometimes he barks to entice them, but he gives up fairly easily if they aren’t into it. In this setting, it’s easier to intervene to get him to stop.

We’ve had him for 2 years now with no problems. However recently, when walking on leash, he is fine with 90% of dogs we meet, but there are certain dogs in the neighborhood that he will growl/bark at for no reason. Unlike most dogs, he doesn’t sniff to say hello. He kind of just freezes and lets the other dog come to him. From there, it can go two ways: either he’s fine and just keeps walking, or he starts barking like crazy and won’t stop. Normally the latter is reserved for bigger dogs. Just to be clear: he doesn’t bark at dogs that are across the street or anything. Only occasionally at ones that we are approaching.

I think that his reaction is fear-based. But the dogs he’s barking at are never doing anything to warrant this reaction. Half the time it’s a dog he’s met many times before.

He gets lots of outdoor time, lots of time with other dogs, but I just don’t know why he does this or what to do. I don’t want to be one of those people who has to cross the street whenever a dog is approaching, as he is a friendly/harmless dog. Just very vocal. Any advice is appreciated!

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