Here's the advice I was gonna send her independently of any specific service-related exercise:
Thoughts?I posted this question up on our forum (it's anonymous re: to you) to get more informed input from people that train working dogs. The advice they have may be a bit different, simply because you have a goal of this being a service dog, not a pet, which may govern how much or how little socialization you want to do. My perception is that people aloofness isnt' necessarily a bad thing relative to developing confidence. To that end...a few intial comments...
Basically I think (my guess) is it's a handler and environment issue. Not something to take personally! It just happens. Shelter dogs have often had sad pasts, even if it's as simple as an owner giving them up. It takes time to reestablish trust and if your methods of interaction differ from its initial owner, it will take time to reprogram the dog. So...particularly given your intentions for the dog (not a pet, but a working dog), I might suggest kind of a ground-up appraisal of what's happening.
Here are a few things. My guess is both you and your partner are well aware of these things, but curious to get your feedback (and you're not gonna hurt my feelings if you disagree with any of it...none of it is harsh but it may sound odd relative to other training advice/intuition you may have):
1. Never reward submissive behavior (nor punish it). Ignore it. If the dog is cowering, goes ears down, etc. it should not be comforted ever by anyone. No cooing, no ear scratches, no reassurance. This has the net effect of teaching it that 1. it's okay to feel nervous and 2. I get rewarded when I act nervous. Does she do any submissive peeing? (i.e., when she's greeted by particularly imposing people, does she cower and wet...definitely do NOT punish this if it's happening).
2. Reward the crap out of her constantly for any good and/or confident behaviors, carry a bait bag with you with a mix and variety of treats and her basic foods. Cut down on her actual caloric intake at meals to facilitate this if necessary. If she has any ob, shoot for three to four sessions of 2-3 minutes a day of drilling her through sits, downs, recalls...make it fun, never negative. Use a clicker (I hate them personally) or a voice marker (Yes!) to mark a good behavior and then food/toy reward her within two seconds of the "Yes!".
3. Build eye contact. "Watch" and then marking eye contact with you and your partner (if this is possible?) builds confidence and stronger relationships with dogs. Friendly eye contact with pack leaders is a good thing.
4. Keep her away from situations you cannot control or observe right now. No tie-outs on a bench, no handing her off to students/faculty, no interaction with dogs or with kids if that is an issue. You build to that as her confidence builds.
5. She needs to recognize that you all protect her, not the other way around. You all are pack leaders. If you did not do a formal groundwork program, here's an excellent starter: http://www.leerburg.com/groundwork.htm This is basic stuff and it will cure a world of hurt relative to lack of confidence. Dogs are more confident when they are confident in their pack leaders, no question.
6. On walks, she walks at your side or behind you. Never in front. Use treats, turning around, etc. to reinforce this. This is a big pack deal. You are the lead, you walk out doors first, always.
7. Exercise. A 2 year old Goldie is not emotionally mature but it's physically mature and they have BIG exercise needs. It may not be getting those as a seeing-eye-dog in training. Shoot for 45-60 minutes a day of walks (walks are excellent for you and her), alternate days on a bike, jogging if that is your thing, swimming. Goldies should have a good dose of prey drive in them...get a fetch game going consistently. A mentally/physically "worn" dog doesn't have the energy to be freaked out (but be assured it will still have the energy to perform as a seeing eye dog!). Develop up those drives in the context of fun and in the context of you all.
8. Get some people, randomly and consistently, to greet you and your partner without making eye contact or acknowledging the dog. Treat the dog for acting appropriately (which should be pretty much ignoring them, neither excited nor upset). Gradually fold in introductions...people should greet her at her eye level (never standing over her), let them sniff her first, pet her, and then only eye contact/verbal greetings. Dogs work on smell-touch-sight/voice, in that order. That's why they are butt sniffers. ;-)
9. Gently fold in new environments as you're able. Stairs instead of the elevator. A hallway or street you've never been down before. A car ride to the vet...and walk into the vet's office...and go right back out (dogs need happy visits to the vet, I highly recommend this).
10. May sound bizarre, but you may consider hand feeding for right now (i.e., the dog eats its meals out of your hand). And even spitting in the dish. Pack leaders eat first, the dog sees that food comes from you when you are ready to give it, you reemphasize your role as leader.
11. I am a big fan of dogs in bedrooms, but never on beds. Dominance position.
12. Crates are good things for even the most well-tempered dog. They create a sense of security and a place to relax and turn off. I have one in my kitchen, one in my bedroom...never used for punishment...used when I cannot watch the dog, am sick of the dog, when the dog is eating (every meal), when the dog needs to rest. Introduce this gently...feed her outside of it, feed her inside of it, feed her with the door closed, leave her for gradually longer lengths of time (5 minutes and up in 15 minute increments). Never let her out when she's whining/begging/barking. She's fine.
13. Your posture is critical. Walk her with shoulders straight and an air of confidence...like "the Queen of England"...and keep her to your side or in back of you so you can BLOCK anything you approaching you (dogs, dumb people, etc.). Dog needs to know that you protect her (without the cooing and reassurance!). Move through her, not around her (don't let her block your path through the house, etc.). No flexi-leads (those "unwinding" leashes). I hate them except for very specific circumstances and they allow her to get out of your "leadership" zone.
14. Limit free run time in the house. Put a drag line on her, crate her, etc. and control (or have the ability to control) her movements for right now.
15. No compulsion (i.e., no yanks on slip/chain/prong collars, etc.). Limit her collars to a flat collar or perhaps a "passive" prong (i.e., one that she wears that merely corrects her when she bolts or goes away from you.)