Golden retriever not as social as I hoped

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TLDR: need help socializing a fearful puppy

I have a golden retriever who is just over 8 months old now. When she was really small, I made sure she said hello to people and other dogs on walks at every chance. She loved greeting people and was nervous and shy about other dogs but would slowly work her way to them and sniff and say hello.

I admit I haven’t taken her to dog parks as often as I should have in hindsight. But I can’t change it.

Now when we go on walks, she’ll growl and have her hair raised at people when she spots them. But once we get close to them it’s different. Oddly around females she’s totally excited to say hello and acts normal, but when it’s a man she’s fearful and tucks her tail and tries to hide behind me and it’ll take a lot of coaxing and patience for her to even sniff them. She’s had no negative experiences with men since I’ve had her at 8 weeks old.

She’s also nervous around children at first but has always done well with them and warms up pretty quickly.

But she is so fearful of other dogs when we go on walks and go to the dog park. Her first trip to the dog park was 1 month ago, and when 2-3 dogs came up to sniff her, she peed and became glued to my side. She wouldn’t move more than 3 feet from me and we had never worked on off leash recalling before. She just wouldn’t leave me. I’ve tried taking her to the dog park more and on less busy days, but she is still very fearful when we go.

It seems most of her fear and shyness is in public places. Whenever new people come visit she has no fear at all, and when she meets other dogs in an indoor setting she’s actually pulling me to go say hello and trying to play.

I’m not sure how to improve her public social skills because when people see her growling and having her hair raised at a distance, they obviously don’t want to say hello. Even though I know she wouldn’t ever dream of being reacting in a violent way.

It’s naive of me to say but when I got her I dreamed of being able to go to the dog park and letting her run her heart out and play with other dogs. I really wanted a social butterfly and I’m worried that it’s just not in her personality. But I’m committed to doing whatever I can to help her get over these anxieties.

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