Search and rescue dogs have been used for decades to help search for lost skiers or boarders in avalanches.
They are a vital component in wilderness tracking, during natural disasters and other events where people have been declared missing.
Rescue dogs detect human scents which makes them particularly good at locating humans that have been buried under snow or are hiding in caves and other difficult-to-reach areas.
Avalanche rescue dogs can find trapped humans in a matter of minutes under deep snow and are constantly trained to keep their skills fresh.
During an emergency avalanche situation, rescue dogs will use their impressive sense of smell to locate humans under the snow.
In fact, some rescue dogs that specialize in avalanche situations can smell people that are under 15 feet of snow.
Rescue dogs are usually accompanied by human search team that will take the dog to the last known site of the skier or snowboarder then allow the dog to search around and attempt to detect them through smell.
Dogs can typically search an area that spans 2.5 acres in around 30 minutes. For humans, it would take several hours and around a dozen people to effectively and thoroughly search such a large area of land.
This is a difficult question to answer as it depends on the thickness of the snow and how deep the lost human is. In most cases, the dog will bark and start to dig while their handlers arrive and help with Avy Tools such as Avalanche Shovels.
A search and rescue dog that specializes in avalanche situations can be trained in two to three years.
Even after their training is complete, handlers must continue to train their dogs in order to keep their skills up.
They are taught skills such as:
Saint Bernard dogs are typically used as avalanche dogs due to there build and strength, but German Shepherd dogs and Labrador Retrievers are also commonly trained as effective rescue dogs. These breeds are selected thanks to their excellent sense of smell and ability to hunt.
A good Search & Rescue dog should also have the following characteristics:
Rescue dogs are used worldwide, it’s common that you will see rescue dogs in any resort that you ski or board in. Resorts with daily avalanches will hold multiple search and rescue dogs at the base.
It’s important to stay safe and have the correct training when skiing or snowboarding off-piste please check out further blogs below :
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