Friday, December 27, 2013

Barn Hunt Fun Day!

Rocco gets ready to go into the Barn Hunt ring!
This past weekend Rocco and I met up with our pals Johann the Dog, Gracie and their mum, and tried our hands and paws at Barn Hunt -- a sport that was new to all us!

What the heck is Barn Hunt, you ask?

Here's how the Barn Hunt Association folks explain it:

The purpose of Barn Hunt is to demonstrate a dog’s vermin hunting ability in finding and marking rats in a “barn-like” setting, using straw/hay bales to introduce climbing and tunneling obstacles in the dog’s path. Barn Hunt may be held indoors or outdoors and need not be held in an actual barn.

Barn Hunt is also for any breed or mix of dog over 6 months of age who can fit through an 18” wide by bale-height (approximately 22”) tunnel constructed of straw/hay bales. It will test speed, agility, hunt drive, scenting ability, and surefootedness. Barn Hunt is all inclusive for any dog and human who wish to play the game, including large dogs and dogs without a vermin-hunting history

Barn Hunt is a sporting event, and as such there will be levels of difficulty, titles, and championships to be attained. 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 rat tube; thus, the handler must know and have a partnership with their dog. 

Rat in a Barn Hunt PVC rat tube
So basically, there's a course set up with hay bales at varying heights and tunnels made out of the hay bales. 

Rats are housed in a tube like this one to the right (the rat is curled up in the right end), and they're all comfy in there with plenty of soft litter and air holes.

It's important to note that no rats are harmed in Barn Hunt and every precaution is take to ensure the rat's well-being!

Then, it's the dog's job to find and "mark" the rat. So your dog in his own language says, "hey mom, here's the rat. I found it!" And you as the handler need to be able to understand your dog's language -- essentially being the translator between your dog and the judge -- and then you, the human, proclaim with certainty, "RAT!" 

I'll get more into how that works in our next Barn Hunt post. Today, we're going to show you the first stage of Barn Hunt where Rocco gets familiarized with the ring, does a "climb" on the hay bales and runs through the tunnels. 

Once Rocco gets a handle on the tunnels, he realized what great fun they are. About halfway though, watch him get the zoomies!

Clearly, Rocco had great fun! He performed the tunnel and climb with ease, two of the requirements in qualifying runs.

As you might be able to see, some of the tunnels go straight through and some have up to three turns at 90-degree angles. The tunnel requirements get more difficult as you compete at higher levels. Rocco had no trouble with any of the tunnels and once he figured them out, he loved them!

After the initial familiarization run, Rocco was introduced to the rat in the tube and he practiced finding and marking the rat.  Come back in two weeks to learn more about the ratting part of Barn Hunt!  Next week we'll be doing New Year's FitDog resolutions at FitDog Friday.

For more about Barn Hunt and to find events in your area visit

The fun and games continue every Friday with FitDog Friday, the weekly Blog Hop brought to you by To Dog With LoveSlimDoggy and Peggy's Pet Place to promote a healthy active lifestyle for pets (and their people, too!). Join in every Friday by linking up your FitDog story or visiting the blogs in the Hop.


  1. Hilarious. And what a great workout for you & the dog. Love when Rocco gets excited. Think my big boy would burst straight through all those bales & possible get the Rat out of the container......

  2. That was great! What a cool event. Love how Rocco was a little wary at first and then was zooming through those tunnels...good boy!

  3. OH.MY.DOG Rocco and Miss Diane. This would be right up my alley, I tell you! I can find rats near our lake (and even one in our yard)...they are what I am meant to hunt! If only there was a Barn Hunt by me but sadly there are no groups in Florida. Dang this State...we don't have any good earth dog stuff to do.
    *high paw*

  4. Oh, Bailie and I would love that. We love running in tunnels and catching critters!

  5. What a super fun day with you my pal!!! Can't wait to do it again and get a few ribbons! Good to know all three of us could keep our neighborhoods from getting the plague, BOL!

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