Just a follow up.
I'm working on this very seriously. I will probably start layering in e-collar with the recall just so I can make it very quick and nearly 100% (very few things in life are 100%).
Today we trained with focused heeling around a bunch of cross country skiers in a field. I weaved around the skiers (not too close, or they would have thought me even stranger) "fuss-ed" her, downed her in motion, recalled her and then at the end rewarded with a game of tug with the leash. No problems. I had my other two dogs with me and worked them separately on some recall and trick stuff.
But, when we were coming up the single track trails to the larger trail, she did alert bark real quick at some snow bikers (from a ways back, we came around a corner and they surprised us). She was very close to me this time and on leash. I "fuss-ed" her and we went by (no further reaction or barking), but the (female) biker informed me that I have a "mean" dog.
I think that is the perception I am going to get, unfortunately. I know to some degree GSDs and malinois are supposed to "look" mean. So I battle that a bit, too. I think she's cute, but she does have a wolfish-police dog look to her. And she's grown a bit in the past month.
Honestly, I love this dog and I will leash her all the time if I have to, but, first my right shoulder is having some major pain/issues (old injury and dislocation) and I'll probably have to have surgery. It would be hugely helpful NOT to have to use a leash all the time. Which is why I'll probably be going with e-collar.
Second, the bark alert behavior is going to be tough to eliminate completely. I can call her back quickly BUT I'm not sure I can completely get rid of it. I've been much more diligent about calling her in whenever I see anyone on the trail- even if I think she won't react. But I can't do this pre-emptively 100% all the time because sometimes people appear suddenly. She is very good with the recall, but I think there is room for improvement in speed, as with any command.
I also will be working a whole lot on passing other dogs in harness because she will be my back-up dog for the world championships skijor races in March. A solid "on-by" past distractions will be helpful not just for skijoring, but for the trails as well. I have access to a lot of calm, neutral dogs with mushing friends, so as long as I can get them onboard with training the "maligator" we should be in good shape in a short amount of time.
I've never had a dog that is so easy to train, but I've also never had a dog that needed so much training just to go trail running. Give and take, I guess.
I'm going to try to take video of some of the training- it's hard because my hands are full with the dog so I need to set it up somewhere on tripod or similar, but I find it really useful to see what's going on with me and the dog, and it may be helpful for other people. No guarantees, though. Training takes priority over video.
Thanks for all the comments on this. It sure was a wake-up call for me, and probably a good thing it happened when she is just 17 months old and I have ample opportunity to get her in better habits for life. I'm also very glad it ended well.