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Last week, my abusive father and I got into a physical fight. He was throwing things at me and at my 2yo GSD and he beat me up pretty bad. The police were called out, and since I had hit him and drew blood I was arrested and taken away. I'm not sure what happened at home after I left. When I came back the next day, my GSD was estatic to see me but we had to go stay at a hotel due to protection laws. My dog who was usually overly friendly, and was an active therapy dog at the local nursing home is now cowering and even growling at people. We have traveled and stayed at hotels before so I know it wasn't an environment change problem. I took her for a walk in the forest preserve where we did all of our training for the AD and she would be on alert at every person we saw from a distance, and then when they passed us she would cower and skitter to the side. I am so worried about this sudden change of behavior and I'm not sure what to do about it. Any suggestions? Obviously getting away from my father would help, but unfortunately at the moment it's not possible.
 

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Wow. I'm sorry to hear you're going through all that.

If your father is abusing your dog, she's not likely to get better until that stops. He's giving her a reason to think people might hurt her and she's doing what any intelligent creature would do and becoming defensive to protect herself. In terms of the long term ramifications for her behavior, these issues are all fixable as long as the dog was genetically sound and social before, which it sounds like is the case here. It's a traumatic event - it takes a while but with enough counterconditioning the old outlook can come back, but only if the fearfulness is not being reinforced through further traumatic events. She needs lots of positive experiences - arranged meetings with dog friendly people who give her treats etc.

But, like I say, it sounds like both you and she need to find somewhere else to live.
 

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Is it possible that she may have sustained a concussion?It could affect her thinking and perceptions for a while....just a thought, if the behavior change is sudden, it may have a physical cause....?
 
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