status/social climbing behavior when encountering other dogs
I've adopted a 6 year old mini schnauzer a few months back. Everything's great except for one annoying behavioral trait that I don't quite understand. When he meets a dog (either on or off leash, doesn't matter at all), he has different reactions depending on the dog:
1. Sometimes he'll go right to the butt and they'll sniff each other happily in circles.
2. Other times, he might sniff a little or not at all, then stand there tense, parallel to the other dog but facing the opposite way, usually with his head near the other dog's shoulder. The other dog is probably sniffing mine, but mine is not moving. Then my dog will try to put his paws on the other dog's shoulders, causing the other dog to jump away. Then my dog's immediately bored and wants to do other things.
3. I think with really dominant dogs, my dog doesn't wait at all and immediately tries to jump on the other dog. The other dog gives him a loud bark or two, they sniff each other, then my dog tries again, gets barked at, then bored and wants to do other things.
Also, it doesn't matter the other dog's breed or size. He seems to respond differently depending on the other dog's temperment, like he seems to want to immediately jump on (what I think are) alpha dogs. He's easy going with other easy going dogs and doesn't jump on their shoulders, though one time I saw him thump his chin on a smaller female dog who was very easy going, but that was unusual.
I've rolled him over on his back toward large alpha dogs, but i don't think my mini schnauzer get's it. I don't want him getting snapped at by a large dog. I can usually pull him back in time before his paws land on the other dog, but I don't like the stress of having to worry about his behavior.
BTW, he's not aggressive toward large dogs, so it's not a size issue. There was an english mastiff that came up right behind him and began sniffing, but my dog was more mesmorized by something else and didn't notice at all. That mastiff was quite gentle. Also, my dog never jumps or gets tense with old, sick, injured or weak dogs. Yes, I think we've met a hundred dogs already, literally!
So, what's going on?