Physical Conditioning of Military Working Dog Athletes

Military Working Dog (MWD) athletes have considerable physical demands placed on them in the line of duty.  These dogs are at risk of unique musculoskeletal injuries and diseases that may significantly impact their performance or even prematurely end their careers. While some conditions are developmental or congenital, it may be possible to prevent injury or reduce the impact of musculoskeletal disease through the employment of a comprehensive conditioning program.  Ultimately, the goal of physical training is to produce a well-rounded canine athlete and prolong the working life of the MWD.  This presentation will cover the physical requirements of Military Working Dogs and the current available evidence of musculoskeletal diseases and their impact on MWD careers.  It will also include a review of the literature on prevention of injury through conditioning in human athletes and recommendations for a comprehensive MWD conditioning program tailored to specific life-stages and duties.

Henderson, Andrea - Chief, Rehabilitation DOD Military Working Dog Veterinary Service