The Barn Hunt Association, LLC has created a sport honoring the traditional role of dogs in ridding barns, homes, and properties of vermin. Barn Hunt demonstrates the dog’s desire and instinct to hunt, requires agility, a good sense of smell, and teamwork as an astute owner in tune with their dog reads their dog’s body language and works with them to search for and identify their prey. Barn Hunt is growing rapidly in popularity; the association has a website with all the information you will need to begin.
From the Barn Hunt Association website http://www.barnhunt.com you can register your dog with the association (a requirement to compete at sanctioned trials), view the events calendar listing training events, fun runs and trials across the country, and see breed stats.
The timed Instinct test (RATI) requires the dog to differentiate the PVC tube holding a live rat from one holding bedding, and an empty tube. It also requires the handler to “call” the ID, so the handler’s ability to read their dog’s “mark” is significant. Some dogs are very demonstrative, others quite subtle about their indications. The tubes are on the ground in the open, and the straw bale course configuration is standardized, allowing for a tunnel and climb, although not requiring them.
In Novice (RATN), three tubes with the same contents as above are well hidden within an “arena” of straw bales configured with a tunnel, and multiple height levels. Tubes may be hidden at ground level or on top of the first straw bale level, no “deeper” than one bale in, when multiple bales are positioned side by side. The dog must go through a straw bale tunnel, and complete a climb where all four feet touch the straw bale, as well as find the tube containing the rat. Again, the handler must call the find, and these requirements must be completed within two minutes. The elements can be completed in any order, so if the dog finds the rat first, and the handler calls it, then the handler must direct the dog to complete the other elements. The rules are specific about how the handler and dog can interact during the event. As the dog progresses through the Barn Hunt titles, the courses and requirements get progressively more challenging. Complete rules can be found on the Barn Hunt Association’s website.
The American Kennel Club acknowledges Barn Hunt titles if the titles are submitted to the AKC along with a recording fee. Submitted titles can be added as a suffix behind your dog’s registered name.