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Penn Vet Working Dog Center Fit To Work program foundational fitness development and training – Presented by Meghan Ramos

The implementation of a data driven, clinically based, and time efficient working dog fitness program has been a goal within the community for several years. The Penn Vet Working Dog Center Fit To Work (PVWDC FTW) program is a foundational fitness program designed to combine scientific merit and practical training efficiency. The PVWDC FTW program is a formalized circuit training program performed for twenty minutes three times a week to complement a working dog’s career specific training. The program consists of posture development, warm-up and cool-down routines, and two circuits of Squats, Planks, Pivots, and Back-up exercises. The foundational PVWDC FTW exercises target the abdominal, spinal, and hindlimb musculature that are frequently underdeveloped and contribute to  premature career altering injuries. The quantifiable FTW program enhances individualized monitoring for progression, early injury recognition, and return from injury rehabilitation.  The PVWDC FTW program has been implemented with greater than one hundred dogs across three working dog disciplines producing quantifiable data that will be used to establish standards for working dog physical fitness. Handler reported subjective FTW benefits include improved canine confidence and performance during training such as ladder climbing, rubble navigation, prolonged apprehension times, and stronger initial decoy engagement. Ongoing research is focused on validation of training methods, career skill set specific progressions, and correlation of physical fitness with career performance.

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