Dr. Sean McPeck

Dr. Sean McPeck

WASILLA — Tier 1 Veterinary Medical Center owner Dr. Sean McPeck was recently featured in Working Dogs Magazine, discussing the importance of conditioning to improve the overall performance and career span of out of shape working dogs in all fields.

“I’m just hoping that makes an impact,” McPeck said.

McPeck outlined the correlation between working dogs’ conditioning programs and their overall health in his article. He said that dogs are natural athletes, and improper conditioning leads to lower abilities to perform on the job with higher chances of injury, much like human athletes.

According to McPeck, countless working dogs’ careers are cut short due to preventable injuries, most of which could have been avoided with dogs at their peak performance through steady and proper conditioning regimens.

“Conditioning, getting in shape, it takes time. It takes the right way to do it so you don’t get an injury… They’ve got to be invested in it because when that dog sits idle… they’re going to reset very fast and get out of shape. Any person that has done any kind of conditioning knows this for themselves, right? It takes two weeks to get in shape, and two days to get out of shape. So, it just takes time and effort,” McPeck said.

McPeck cited a study in his article that reported a 63.6 percent decrease in “accurate scent detection” among out of shape dogs compared to conditioned dogs who experienced the same amount of physical stress.

“The bottom line is: if the dog is conditioned and they’re in shape, then they’re going to be able to close that mouth and not pant and thermal regulate, and they’re gonna be able to move scent through their nose… If they’re panting, they’re not smelling,” McPeck said. “Across the board, that’s the number one reason we use dogs throughout military law enforcement, for their ability to detect.”

McPeck also pointed out another statistics that showed 11 out of 13 law enforcement K9 deaths were a result of heat related injuries in 2017. McPeck said these injuries are 100 percent preventable since a conditioned dog has a much higher resilience to heat related injuries.

“There’s a lot of other little things that help from fish oils to certain diets, but all of that put together, nothing beats a dog that’s in shape,” McPeck said. “There’s no one size fits all… There’s no magic bullet.”

McPeck retired from the U.S. Army in 2016. His experience in the military focused heavily on canines, spanning 18 years of various works with the dogs of duty.

For years, he was accountable for all the preventative care, nutrition, and husbandry of hundreds of military working dogs. McPeck launched the first Comprehensive Canine Conditioning Program, still in use by SOCOM units to this day.

“I wrote the very first manual for the Department of Defense, really. Nobody had anything on conditioning working dogs,” McPeck said.

McPeck co-created Advanced Canine Athletic Program, an application that serves as a progressive canine conditioning program that capitalizes on the dog’s natural ability to rapidly adapt to exercise challenges while providing a steady progression to avoid injury.

McPeck recently went to several Alaskan law enforcement agencies, including the Alaska State Troopers, Anchorage Police Department, Wasilla Police Department, and Palmer Police Department giving seminars to help officers apply his knowledge to their line of duty.

“They said it was a complete game changer, not only the performance of the dogs, but what they were doing was night and day in comparison… The dogs are phenomenal assets and if you invest a little bit of time and effort into it, they can be a complete game changer, a force multiplier without a doubt,” McPeck said. “Their number one purpose is to make sure that those people that are serving around them get to come home to their families.”

For more information about Tier 1, call 907-745-8437.

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at jacob.mann@frontiersman.com

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