5 Things To Know When Seeing an Avalanche Rescue Dog

Image: Otto Solberg

Author: Sabrina Bengtzen

Published Date: 05/14/2024

Read Time: 3 Minutes

Everyone knows that the cutest employees at a ski resort are the Avalanche Rescue Dogs. Here at Snowbird, our avalanche dogs play a crucial role in the operations of our Ski Patrol and Snow Safety teams. They are also on call to assist Wasatch Backcountry Rescue in critical rescue operations outside of the resort. Are you hoping to see one of our avalanche dogs on the mountain? Here are 5 things you need to know before you interact with them.

1. Give them space. Avalanche Rescue Dogs and their handlers are working hard when they’re on the mountain. Aside from active avalanche rescue missions, avalanche dogs are constantly training to earn or maintain their certifications. Please give them the space they need to work.

Avalanche Rescue Dog at the Peak

2. Do not call their names or distract them, both on and off of the mountain. Focused training time is critical for Avalanche Rescue Dogs’ skill development. Whether they are walking through the Snowbird Center or training on the mountain, it is imperative that they concentrate on their work. Please be respectful and do not interrupt their learning by yelling their name or interacting with them as you might with your own pet. 

3. Ask before approaching. Again, the dogs are working. We know how cute they are, but please ask permission before engaging with them, as it could interfere with their training. Their handlers will let you know if and when you are welcome to give them some love.

Avalanche Rescue Dog in training

4. If approaching, take off your skis. Ski and snowboard edges are extremely sharp and can easily cut or otherwise injure the Avalanche Rescue Dogs. If you’ve been permitted to approach, please take off your skis before doing so. Otherwise, use extreme caution around the dogs to avoid issuing a potentially career-ending injury.

5. Do not feed the dogs. Please refrain from offering the dogs food. Whether our Avalanche Rescue Dogs are walking around the Plaza Deck and appear to be off-duty or are actively working on the mountain, it is essential that they remain focused on the job at hand. Our dogs are constantly training, and food offers can be distracting and potentially lead to the formation of undesirable habits. 

Avalanche Rescue Dogs playing at Snowbird

Snowbird is lucky to have a highly skilled team of Avalanche Rescue Dogs. We are grateful to our partner Subaru for the support they provide—from food and toys to medical expenses—which helps make their training and development possible. Learn more about the Avalanche Rescue Dog Program here.


About the Author

Sabrina Bengtzen, a Salt Lake City native, found a love for the mountains early in her life. In her free time you can find her waterskiing, snow skiing, mountain biking, hiking or reading a good book with a cup of peppermint tea. Her favorite adventures are those that involve her beloved dog, Bronco. She currently works at Snowbird as a Snow Reporter and Public Relations Specialist. 

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