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Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park

Avalanche Training - The Reward


The Alert

The Find

The Reward

Training Safety

The favored reward for the majority of dogs who do avalanche work is play and praise. Play could be with most any kind of toy such as a frisbee or tug toy. Some handlers will use a glove or sock tied into a knot that is dedicated to being an avalanche reward. Avalanche dogs love being in the snow, and the extra fun of working and getting a vigorous play reward is quite exciting for them.

Click for larger image: Dan rewards Cooper -- or is it the other way around?(58K)
dog rewarded after find - 58K

Of course, a dog's personality will dictate the method of reward used. Some dogs just don't get as excited as others, and verbal and physical praise is sufficient. For most, an extended session of tug with a soggy old sock is darn near paradise! In terms of training for search and rescue, whether for avalanche or any other specialty, a dog will not work without an adequate reward. A big part of the handler's responsibility is to find out what best motivates the dog and use that in training as early as possible.

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Text and photos copyright Dan Comden, 1995-2004 home Dan Comden
Seattle, WA U.S.A.
Email -- dan*@* (remove the asterisks around the "@" symbol)