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Avalanche Training Outline

Steps to Training for Avalanche

From avalanche seminar January, 1996 at Crystal Mountain Ski Resort, Washington
by Bruce Cheshier, German Shepherd Search Dogs of Washington State (GSSD Web site)
1)Teach the dog that something could be buried under the snow. 
	a) Predispose the dog to looking under things when playing
	b) Make the problems too easy, not too hard,never fail
2) Find a reward the dog is very excited about
	a) Tug-of-war
	b) Without a proper reward, you will reach a dead end
3) Make the problems more difficult but not too difficult
	a) Deeper burials
	b) Shorter percolation times
	c) Denser snow
	d) Larger disturbed area
4) Add more and more distraction to easier problems, never fail
	a) Equipment buried nearby (positive distraction)
	b) Probe line nearby (negative distraction)
	c) Shallow buried food (negative distraction
	d) Urination nearby (not on subject)
5) Make problems difficult and add distractions
	a) Deeper burials
	b) Shorter percolation times
	c) Denser snow
	d) Larger disturbed area
	e) Equipment buried nearby (positive distraction)
	f) Probe line nearby (negative distraction)
	g) Shallow buried food (negative distraction
	h) Urination nearby (not on subject)
	i) Work multiple prblems, dogs at the same time (realistic)
	j) Vary the terrain, sometimes steep, sometimes flat
	k) Night practice (realistic)
	l) Work the wind and the terrain to the best advantage
	m) Work in varying weather conditions
	n) Work an area with a time limit
	o) Work and area with no subject buried (handler unaware)
6) Safety when training
	a) 40 minute absolute maximum burial of subject
	b) 30 minute typical maximum burial time when training
	c) Use the dog snowplow when skiing through public
	d) Train the dog and handler in helicopter safety
	e) Train the dog and handler for chairlift evacuation

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