Our visit to the Constabulary Specialist Operations Dog Unit

A few months ago our Chartered Physiotherapists Di and Sarah were invited to spend the day with the Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire Constabulary Specialist Operations Dog Unit at one of their training days.

This was an opportunity to see what their working dogs, like the fabulous Finn, are asked to do in their everyday tasks and the demands that may be placed upon their bodies. These unsung heroes are trained to the highest standard and are placed into many different situations for pursuit, searching and tracking which their bodies must adapt to.

Whilst observing the training and regular tasks of these working dogs, our physiotherapists were able to fully appraise the impacts of the activities and movement patterns on the musculoskeletal system. For example the quick acceleration and deceleration involved in pursuit requires a great deal of explosive force through the back legs and subsequently optimal movement control through the forelimbs to quickly reduce speed when making contact with a target.

The day also included analysis of new body armour that was being trialled by the unit to provide stab protection for their working dogs. This harness appeared to be restrictive to the dog in many ways including flexion and extension, rotation and side flexion through the spine and trunk. The broad shape of the front aspect of the harness also appeared to restrict forelimb movement and subsequently stride length, especially at full speed.

Understanding the potential mechanisms of injury will also enable our team to rehabilitate these working dogs much more effectively if the need arises. Understanding the workload they are required to complete helps our physiotherapists massively in deciding what types of strength training, speed and endurance retraining are most appropriate to these types of cases. It also helps with consideration of work specific tasks that may be useful in rehabilitation activities when aiming to return to function.

The Specialists Operations Dog Unit also welcomed our camera crew where we captured some amazing highlights of an unforgettable day.

Click here to watch the video.