The Avalanche Review, VOL. 6, NO. 4, MARCH 15, 1988
Copyright © All Rights Reserved; AAA

Training tips for your Avalanche Dog
by Jamie Maddox

At the last ISSW workshop, a couple of folks mentioned to me that they had their dogs carrying Pieps. From a safety standpoint, this is not a recommended procedure. Consider the unlikely but very unfortunate possibility in which both dog and handler are buried in the same slide. The handler's chance of being located first would be 50% rather than 100% were the dog not wearing a beacon.

There are other, more satisfactory ways to keep dogs out of avalanches. Quite simply, keeping the dog away from the hazard is the best solution. This may be accomplished by physical means such as confinement or leashing, or by just leaving the dog behind for that backcountry trip or avalanche control mission.

If it does become necessary to bring a dog into a hazardous situation for some reason, expert obedience training is most desirable. With proper training, a dog can be controlled in a howling blizzard, even at a distance, as long as he can see the handler. Under these circumstances, the dog should be directed from one safe point to the next and told to stay while the handler assesses the situation and picks his way to the next point. Should it be necessary to actually enter an avalanche path with the dog, the standard precaution of crossing one-at-a-time should be observed. Depending on severity of the hazard, an avalanche cord or belay for the dog might be considered.

Even though the avalanche dog is a dear friend, one of the team, and furthermore look great carrying a beacon, the handler is advised to think twice and consider "safety first."

The Avalanche Review, VOL. 6, NO. 4, MARCH 15, 1988
Copyright © All Rights Reserved; AAA