Take Your Dog on a Barn Hunt


One evening at my canine Mookie’s Canine Good Citizen class, because the solar dipped beneath the horizon, a rat ran throughout a close-by fence. Mookie forgot all about his lesson and glued on the rat, frozen as he watched it disappear.

“Wow, he’s actually tuned in to rats,” mentioned our coach. “You need to attempt Barn Hunt with him.”

Till that second, I had by no means heard of Barn Hunt. A fast Google search after I received house revealed an exercise that was not solely acknowledged by the American Kennel Membership but in addition open to blended breeds like Mookie. To take part, all a canine wants is just a little bit of coaching and a robust curiosity in rats.

barn hunts

{Photograph}: Tishchenko | Getty Photos

How Barn Hunts work

In Barn Hunt competitions, straw bales are organized in several patterns, relying on the issue stage of the category, and canines are anticipated to find a number of rats hidden amongst the straw. Being a lover of all animals, I used to be glad to study that the canines by no means make contact with the rats. The rodents, which are sometimes pets, are safely tucked away in aerated, cylindrical tubes, together with bedding and their favourite treats. Seasoned Barn Hunt rats typically nap of their tubes throughout competitions.

Getting began

It wasn’t lengthy earlier than Mookie was signed up for his first Barn Hunt competitors. The Barn Hunt Affiliation supplied Mookie with a registration quantity — a should earlier than a canine can compete — and all the principles we wanted to know.

I entered Mookie in an Intuition class and a Novice class in an upcoming trial. In Intuition, he can be requested to pick the one tube out of three that contained a rat, in two minutes time. In Novice, he can be anticipated to carry out three duties in two minutes: leap up on a bale of straw, cross by means of a brief tunnel fabricated from straw bales and find a rat, in any order. It didn’t sound too onerous. Plus, as Mookie is half Pit Bull, I knew he had an edge. After doing a little studying, I found that Pit Bulls are identified for being nice ratters!

Mookie searches by means of the straw for a hid rat in his Novice class. He had two minutes to seek out the rat, leap up on a bale and run by means of a tunnel.

Competitors day

Our first Barn Hunt was held at a ranch, and was staffed by volunteers, many who had additionally entered their canines within the day’s occasion. After we arrived on the grounds, we noticed canines of each breed, together with many mixes. Terriers made up the overwhelming majority of canines available, however we additionally noticed a Pomeranian, a Shiba Inu and even an Australian Shepherd.
Though I had learn the principles beforehand, I used to be nonetheless a bit murky on all the main points. My fellow opponents helped me out, explaining that canines and handlers are anticipated to sit down in a blinded staging space whereas their class is happening and earlier than it’s their flip to enter the ring. That is so neither canine nor handler can see different canines alerting to the place the rat has been hidden.

After Mookie and I had been known as into the ring for the Intuition take a look at, I handed his collar and leash to a hoop steward and our time started. Mookie ran to the three tubes that had been lined up close to a straw bale and started to smell at them. In Barn Hunt, it’s as much as the handler to name “rat!” when she thinks her canine has discovered the proper tube. Mookie made it simple. After sniffing all three tubes, he went again to the one on the tip and stored sniffing and sniffing. “Rat!” I yelled. “Proper!” mentioned the choose. We got here in effectively below time, and Mookie had simply earned his Barn Hunt Intuition title (RATI).

About an hour later, it was our flip for the Novice class. This time, Mookie had much more to do. As quickly as our time began, I started making an attempt to coax him to leap up on a bale — any bale — or run by means of the one bale tunnel. However Mookie knew there was a rat someplace in that ring, and discovering it was his precedence. Inside a matter of seconds, he alerted me to an innocuous pile of straw. I may inform by his eyes that he smelled a rat. “Rat!” I shouted, and the choose responded “Rat one!” in affirmation.

The remainder of the course wasn’t really easy. If I had practiced at house and taught Mookie an “up” and “tunnel” command, issues would have gone extra easily. As a substitute, I needed to do all types of loopy strikes to get him to leap up on a bale of straw and run by means of a tunnel.

It’s because opponents should not allowed to the touch their canines throughout a run, nor can they contact the straw or the bottom with their fingers. By some miracle, Mookie understood what I wished and received the job carried out. Simply as he got here out the opposite aspect of the tunnel, the choose yelled “Time!” We’d made it by the pores and skin of our tooth.

Mookie and I went house that day together with his Intuition title and the primary leg of his Novice title. We’d each had a good time and couldn’t wait to enroll in our subsequent occasion.

For extra data  about Barn Hunt, go to: barnhunt.com

Prime {photograph}: Deb Drury | Getty Picture

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