So what is Barn Hunt? According to the Barn Hunt Association website, "In Barn Hunt, dogs locate rats (safely enclosed in aerated tubes) hidden in a straw/hay bale maze. It’s a timed event with 3 different dog height divisions. Teams can get titles, placements, and championships." Basically Barn Hunt is a sport in which your dog must complete a course and then find the rat. After the dog indicates the rat, the handler must correctly identify that the dog has found the tube with the rat in it.
In the Instinct and Novice levels there are three tubes on the course-one with the rat, one with dirty litter and one with nothing at all. The litter and the actual rat tubes are where it gets complicated. Some dogs show signs that may seem like they've found the rat when they're sniffing the tube with the litter. With Dobby, I've found that he takes a little bit to sniff the litter tube then loses interest and moves on. When he has the rat, he sniffs a lot, sometimes lifts a paw and even whines to let me know there's a rat in the tube.
An Instinct course, the only course that has a set design. Other levels
are designed by the judge of the trial.
It was an exciting day for Dobby! This sport allows him to sniff as much as he wants(unlike agility!) and lets him find a critter, while at the same time still includes challenges like the hay tunnel. I like that it provides a challenge to handler as well as the dog, it may sound easy but reading your dog's indications is hard work!
Looking to try Barn Hunt for yourself? Check out the Barn Hunt Association website to find a clinic near you!