New Bolton Center Kennett Square, PA
Emergencies & Appointments:
Ryan Hospital Philadelphia, PA

Working Dog Practitioner Program

A Blended Online Program

Working and performance dogs, as compared to their pet counterparts, have higher physical exertion demands, increased risk for injury, and greater exposure to hazardous substances and environments. Veterinarians can expand their skills and services by learning how to effectively address these needs.

The Working Dog Practitioner program provides specialized instruction through a blended program of online courses and hands-on learning in workshops and preceptorships. Instructors include specialty certified practicing veterinarians with real life experience, and subject matter experts in the working dog field.

The Working Dog Practitioner program is RACE-approved for continuing education credits.

For More Information

Penn Vet Working Dog Center
3401 Grays Ferry Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19146

Online program


Veterinarians, Technicians & Allied Professionals

This customized program is for veterinarians and technicians who care (or desire to care) for working dogs, performance dogs, and canine athletes and share a passion to refine their clinical skills in the assessment, care and treatment of working and performance dogs. A portion of this program is available to veterinary and technician students and allied professionals. Typically, candidates come from or serve canines in the following sectors:

  • Agility and canine athlete associations
  • Field and hunting dog associations
  • Veterinary hospitals
  • Veterinary sports medicine and rehabilitation specialties
  • Customs and Border Patrol
  • Department of Defense
  • Law enforcement
  • Transportation Security Administration
  • U.S. Secret Service

Program Takeaways

  • Develop the knowledge and confidence to work with a variety of dog and handler teams
  • Implement successful, low-stress handling techniques for working and performance dogs
  • Understand the performance requirements for different types of canine athletes
  • Identify and manage risk factors that can lead to job and sports related injuries
  • Develop comprehensive medical treatment plans for working and performance dogs
  • Utilize the principles of athletic conditioning to maximize health and longevity of working and performance dogs

Session Topics

  • Physical examination and assessment of a working or performance dog
  • Safe and low stress handling of a working dog or canine athlete
  • Working dog injuries and medical conditions
  • Breed specific diseases and heritable diseases
  • Therapeutic exercises and physical rehabilitation modalities
  • Retirement of a working dog or canine athlete
  • Hands-on workshops in a variety of topics: search and rescue, athletic assessment and conditioning, law enforcement orientation, canine behavior and training and others

A Growing Need

“There is a growing need for a more specialized approach to caring for the working and performance dog. Through this flexible, online format, our goal is to answer the questions that are important to both the veterinarian and the dog handler. And to provide that information so as to improve the health and performance of the working dog.”

Cynthia Otto, DVM, PHD, Associate Professor of Critical Care and Director, Working Dog Center School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

Academic Directors


Cynthia M. Otto, DVM, PhD

  • Diplomate American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care
  • Diplomate American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation
  • Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist
  • Professor of Working Dog Sciences & Sports Medicine
  • Director, Penn Vet Working Dog Center
Lee Palmer, DVM, Penn Vet WDC


  • Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care (DACVECC)
  • Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner (CCRP)
  • National Registry Paramedic, Certified Tactical Paramedic (TP-C)
  • Lead, K9 Tactical Emergency Casualty Care Working Group
  • Lead, Veterinary Committee on Trauma, Prehospital Subcommittee
  • Group Veterinarian, 20th Special Forces Group, AL-ARNG
  • Reserve Deputy Sheriff/SWAT Medic, Lee County Sheriff’s Office

Thank you, Merck Animal Health

Merck-Sponsor of the Working Dog Practitioner Program

The Penn Vet Working Dog Center acknowledges the sponsorship of Merck Animal Health.

Merck Animal Health is a research-driven company that develops, manufactures and markets a broad range of veterinary medicines and services. We offer one of the industry’s most innovative portfolios, spanning products for the prevention, treatment and control of disease in all major farm and companion animal species..