Terriers were originally bred to rid farms of vermin including rats, mice, ground hogs and others. The name Terrier is derived from the Latin “terra” meaning earth. Earthdog tests are man-made tests to determine the dog’s natural ability to seek out vermin. The tunnels are made of wood and a trench is dug. Next the liners (9″ x 9″) are placed in the trenches (30 feet with 3-90 degree turns) and covered with dirt.
The object of the game is to reach the quarry at the end of the tunnel. The quarry are well protected so the dogs can not get to them behind bars. The dog is to “work” the quarry which means bark, bite, growl, dig or lunge at the bars where the rats are kept. There are three levels. The dog has to complete each level before moving onto the next. All this is under a timed situation.
A rat fancier once told me to watch for stress in rats. They will mess in their cages if stressed. So far I have not met a rat in distress. I peek in there and they are washing themselves or asleep most of the time, totally ignoring the dogs.