Archive for April, 2015

Barn Hunts, a Fun New Sport for Any Dog

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

Barn Hunt Premium

Barn Hunts, a Fun New Sport for Any Dog

Barn Hunt, the rat-hunting game for any breed of dog, is a new and fast growing dog sport. The purpose of Barn Hunt is to demonstrate a dog’s vermin hunting ability in finding and marking rats hidden in tubes in a “barn-like” setting, using straw and hay bales to introduce climbing and tunneling obstacles in the dog’s path. Barn Hunt is based on the skills historically used by itinerant “rat catchers” traveling the countryside, ridding farms of vermin, thus helping conserve and preserve food grains and cutting down on disease.

Barn Hunt is a sporting event, with different levels of difficulty, titles, and championships that can be attained. It is a timed event with 3 different height divisions. While it can be used as an instinct test, there is also a handler component in that the handler must signal when the dog has reached the desired target (PVC tube that contains a rat); thus, the handler must have a partnership with their dog and be able to recognize when the dog indicates that it has found a rat. Just like in tracking or nose-work, a dog may indicate their find in many different ways – wagging tail, barking, digging, sniffing, or in the case of some sporting breeds, trying to pick up the tube containing the rat.

At all times, the safety of the dogs, handlers, and rats is of paramount importance. The rats (pets) must be humanely handled and safely confined in aerated PVC tubes; Barn Hunt is not intended to harm or kill rats. The tubes are large enough for rats to be able to turn around, and they are kept on litter so they are comfortable. They often spend their time grooming or even sleeping in the tubes.

Levels of Competition

The beginning level is the Rat Instinct Class (RATI). One passing leg is required. There are three PVC tubes placed in plain sight on the course, one dry, one with litter no rats, one with both litter and a rat. This is an optional class for dogs without an Instinct pass, and for dogs without a Novice title to use as a warm up. Time allowed is one minute and before time is called handler must have declared which tube has the rat based on the dog’s indication. There is a tunnel on the course but the dog is not required to go through it or climb on the hay bales at this level.

To earn the Novice Barn Hunt title (RATN), three qualifying legs are required. Three PVC tubes are hidden on the course, one tube is empty, one with litter no rats, one with both litter and a rat. In this level there is a start box and the dog must leave the box ahead of the handler. Time starts when the dog exits the start box. They have two minutes to find the tube with the rat. Tubes are buried between hay bales or under hay. The dog MUST execute the tunnel and climb on at least one hay bale with all four feet to qualify besides indicating the rat and handler calling the indication correctly. Time stops when those three things have been accomplished.

The advanced titles are Open, Senior and Master. For Open three qualifying legs are required. There are five PVC tubes placed on the course, one empty, two with litter, two with rats and litter. Time allowed for the dog to indicate both rats is 2.5 minutes. Senior level has eight PVC tubes, four with rats and litter, three with litter, one empty. Time allowed is 3.5 minutes and Master level requires five qualifying legs under at least two judges. There are 10 PVC tubes. All tubes will have litter. Any from one to five tubes will have rats, and that number will change at random. Handler has to indicate when their dog has found all rats. At this level the dog has 4.5 minutes.

Additional information can be found at the Barn Hunt Association’s web site and the AKC’s Barn Hunt Title Recognition Program site:

Barn Hunt Association

AKC Barn Hunt Title Recognition Program

Lakes Region Kennel Club Barn Hunt Fun Trial

The following are two pictures from the LRKC Barn Hunt Fun Trial held on April 12, 2015.

The maze used for the Instinct and Novice Classes

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One of the dogs competes in the Instinct Class

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