Even though I didn't discard the validity of what the dog trainer tried to teach me in our one on one, I just haven't known what to do with it. And not even been able to come up with any questions to ask her. The main thing I've taken away from it though is that whether or not Banjo socialises with other dogs should be largely her choice. And I show that to her by casually calling her and walking off 5 seconds after any meeting with a strange dog. So she knows that interacting with other dogs isn't the goal of our outing.
It seems to work. She seems happy in the knowledge that walking away is an acceptable way of dealing with any sort of bad vibes she might get from these meetings. We've had the occasional spat still. Either because I wasn't walking, like when we were relaxing on the beach recently, or when the other dog doesn't take no for an answer, which fortunately seems to happen rarely now we avoid the dog park.
The best spot for socialising is still our big off leash area in our old suburb. It really is the ideal dog walking spot. Today we met there with my friend with the great dane. The same dog Banjo snapped at for no apparent reason the first time she met him. Even when she was younger and still very sociable, she was wary of large dogs. So today it was heart warming to watch her invite him to play and then trying to figure out how to play with a dog twice her size.
She did growl at him twice, but it was totally appropriate. He stole the sticks she retrieved from the pond out of her mouth when she wasn't even halfway to shore. After she told him off for that the second time, I noticed he stopped doing it, so that turned out to be effective communication.
The pond was crazy too. We laughed so much. A great dane, a ball obsessed bc, a Spaniel, a couple of JRT and foxies, and our Banjo all having their own kind of fun in and around the water and with eachother.
I wish we could live closer to that place still...