Avalanche

The following provides an overview of the E, A and B level testing for Avalanche work. Please refer to the current version of the International Testing Standards for Rescue Dog Tests of the International Canine Federation and the International Rescue Dog Organization for more information.

Note: these standards are valid as of 1 January 2012.

RH-L-E Avalanche

  • Search area: Snowfield 5000m2 , a minimum of 3 burial sites, flags clearly mark the boundaries of the search area.
  • Victim: 1 person, placed so that there is visual and physical contact possible for the dog; must be in position 10 minutes prior to the test start
  • Time limit: 10 minutes
  • Repeated and familiar voice commands and hand signals are permitted
  • Handler may commence the search on touring skis or snow shoes
  • The handler commences the search at an indication from the judge. The handler cannot leave the start position until the dog is at least 20 m from the handler or when the dog alerts and the judge instructs him to do so
  • When alerting the dog must be forceful and clear and in the right direction of the scent. The handler must clearly identify the location where the dog has picked up the scent. The victim must be dug out by the handler on the instructions of the judge

*Note: some differences in obedience and dexterity routine for RH-L E (avalanche)

  1. Transportability: the dog must show calmness and obedience when being placed in a means of transport such as a snow grooming machine, a chairlift, helicopter or other similar means of snow transport
  2. Following ski tracks: A ski path of at least 150 meters with at least 1 change of direction  must be demonstrated. The dog is off leash and the handler gives a suitable command (such as “follow tracks”). From the start, the dog must fall in behind the handler and remain in his tracks without hindering him.
  3. Directability at a distance: equipment: 1 marker for the start point, and 2 additional markers, 20 meters apart from each other and to the start point: permitted commands: voice and hand to approach each of the two marked areas; a voice command  to stop at each of the 2 marked areas, either a voice or hand command for come; and either a voice or hand for having the dog return to the start position; at the start of the exercise, the handler sends his dog to one marker, commands it to stay before sending it to the 2nd marker, commanding it to stay, and the finally calling the dog back to the handler and returning the dog to the start position.

RH-L-A Avalanche

Biological Search

  • Search area: snowfield at least 8,000 m2 . Flags are to clearly mark the perimeters
  • Victims: 2 victims buried to a maximum depth of 1 meter. The dog must not have any visual and or physical contact and the covering must be as inconspicuous as possible. The distance between the victims must allow for a clear alert. Victims must be in position at least 20 minutes prior to the start of the test. The victim is not permitted to assist in the dig out of the hiding place immediately before the test.
  • Handler is permitted touring skies or snowshoes
  • When instructed by the judge, the handler releases his dog to search. The handler cannot leave his start position until the dog is 30 meters from the handler, or when the dog alerts or if the judge tells him he may move.
  • When the dog finds, he must clearly and forcibly alert in the direction of the scent. The handler must identify the location the place where the dog has picked up the scent. The handler marks this location of the alert and digs out the victim at the instruction of the judge. The test will continue at the instruction of the judge.
  • Time limit: 15 minutes; clock is stopped when the first victim is rescued

Technical Search

  • Search area: snowfield 10 m x 10 m, clearly marked
  • 1 avalanche peeps device as a transmitter
  • 1 avalanche peeps device as a receiver
  • When registering the dog, the handler must advise whether he is using his own device or the one provided by the organizer
  • The handler’s task is to locate, dig out and present to the judge the avalanche search device which has been buried in the marked area at a depth of 0.30 meters. Tactics are at the handlers discretion.
  • Time limit: 5 minutes

RH-L-B Avalanche

Biological Search

  • Search area: snowfield at least 12,000 m2 . Flags are to clearly mark the perimeters
  • Victims: 3 victims buried to a maximum depth of 2 meters. The dog must not have any visual and or physical contact and the covering must be as inconspicuous as possible. The victims cannot be reached via entrances. The distance between the victims must allow for a clear alert. Victims must be in position at least 20 minutes prior to the start of the test. The victim is not permitted to assist in the dig out of the hiding place immediately before the test.
  • Handler is permitted touring skies or snowshoes
  • The dog handler is given a location description and task is described verbally. The search tactics are left to the dog handler and must be described to the judge before the search begins. The judge must be informed of any changes in search tactics during the test by the handler.
  • When instructed by the judge, the handler releases his dog to search. The handler cannot leave his start position until the dog is 30 meters from the handler, or when the dog alerts or if the judge tells him he may move.
  • When the dog finds, he must clearly and forcibly alert in the direction of the scent. The handler must identify the location the place where the dog has picked up the scent. The handler marks this location of the alert and digs out the victim at the instruction of the judge. The test will continue at the instruction of the judge.
  • Time limit: 30 minutes; assistants rescue the victims at the instruction of the judge

Technical Search

  • Search area: snowfield 10 m x 10 m, clearly marked
  • 1 avalanche peeps device as a transmitter
  • 1 avalanche peeps device as a receiver
  • When registering the dog, the handler must advise whether he is using his own device or the one provided by the organizer
  • The handler’s task is to locate, dig out and present to the judge the avalanche search device which has been buried in the marked area at a depth of 0.30 meters. Tactics are at the handlers discretion.
  • Time limit: 5 minutes

*Differences with obedience and dexterity for RH-L-A/B

  • Following ski tracks (distance is 500 meters—dog must follow behind the handler off leash without forging, lagging or interfering with the handler)
  • Transportability (in a chairlift, snow grooming machine, helicopter, etc.)

For more information, please review the official testing standards.