Advanced Canine Athletic Program

Military and law enforcement canines are expected to perform a unique set of athletic activities, often under extreme conditions. Like any athletic activity, proper conditioning is expected to improve performance and reduce injury, but no systematic conditioning program exists to prepare these dogs for their athletic activities. The Advanced Canine Athletic Program (ACAP), was designed involving Subject Matter Experts from different areas of canine conditioning, behavior, research, and competitive canine athletics. The purpose of the ACAP was to provide a conditioning program and reference for the military and law enforcement dog handlers. The initial questions were; would a printed reference manual increase conditioning compliance by dog handlers? Would athletic related orthopedic and soft tissue injuries decrease with a progressive conditioning schedule? Would an appreciable impact in apprehension capabilities and detection be observed? Following 2 years of adherence to the ACAP by the dog handlers of the 75th Ranger Regiment (United States of America Armed Forces), there was a complete absence of retirement related to soft tissue or orthopedic related injuries. Though compliance to any schedule is highly dictated by the individual and their leadership, there was a substantial increase in canine conditioning activities.

Author: Sean P. McPeck