What is wrong with affections and treats from strangers?
This is my dane at an elementary school playground when school was just out. There were lots of kids screaming and running around.
I was asked why l did not allow these kids to say hi, and why l didn't ask them to hand treats to my dane.
Socialization is not about sniffing other dogs or being touched or fed by strangers--it is about exposure and how to build confidence and develop engagement through such exposure.
Learning how to calmly coexist with lots of fast running and screaming kids as well as reactive dogs--and trusting that none of them would be allowed to get into his/her space--is an important lesson for any dog.
For dogs that appreciate space, asking random strangers to touch them or allowing random dog to approach them could backfire and may result in a reactive, anxious or even aggressive dog.
Even for dogs that seem to like this type of interaction, allowing your dog to go up to another person or leashed dog uninvited is rude, and it also teaches your dog that pulling you on the leash can be rewarding.
Allowing random people to approach and give your dog affection or treats can get your dog really excited about seeing other people, which often results in dragging, jumping, and lunging when you dog sees a stranger. We have all heard the infamous line, "he just wants to say hi!" and we all know it is usually said when the owner has failed to control his dog.
Socialization is about creating a brave dog that focuses on you in strange or even fearful environment; it is not about teaching your dogs all humans are unearned affection/treat dispenser and all dogs are sources of extreme excitement.
A well socialized dog should know how to coexist calmly around other dogs and people without being uncomfortable or highly aroused.