Hello all --
I have read through a number of other posts but wanted to discuss my specific situation to see if anyone could help or offer some much needed advice.
My husband and I got our male GSD at about 10 weeks old, last year. He is now 1.5 years old. At a year old (maybe a little younger) he started barking his head off and/or growling at other dogs. Not all - just some. Sometimes they were big, sometimes small. Sometimes far away, sometimes only when they came up to him. Some of them he likes and all is fine. I've never allowed him off leash with another dog because truly, for as gentle as he is with us (as gentle as a young GSD can be) and for as good as he is with our house cats (chases but never aggressive) I don't trust him. Our vet says they can sense we are tense so we need to relax when around other dogs, but I don't know how to do that. I feel like it could go either way if we let him near the other dog and I just don't want to risk it.
We tried socializing him a bit when he was younger -- walking up to other dogs and letting them smell one another, but he would always try to jump on them and for as big as he is, it was an issue. (There are really only small dogs in our neighborhood and none of our friends have large enough dogs where we have ever felt comfortable.) So we know some of this/all of this is our fault but we want to fix it.
We have tried training (used BarkBusters which was absolutely awful and useless and a waste of $600), he was recently neutered, we try scolding him, introducing him to other animals slowly, etc. but nothing has really worked.
Our local shelter was full and so we recently took on a foster dog for a few weeks. She is only 40 lbs. (the GSD is 95) so I'm trying to introduce them very very slowly. He will go up to her crate and wag his tail and sniff and not bark at all but if they are both on leashes he goes bezerk. His hackles go up, he barks his head off, sometimes growls but all the while wagging his tail.
ANY insight would be helpful. What have you done to help such a situation? How can I tell if he will actually bite or is just sending off signals to the other dogs that let them know he is above them?