Friday, January 10, 2014

Barn Hunt Part II: Finding the Rat!

Rocco is introduced to the rat, who is safely ensconced
in his PVC pipe shelter
Two weeks ago we told you all about our introduction to Barn Hunt at a fun day event.

At the fun day, we learned about Barn Hunt runs and what's expected of you and your dog when you compete. We also got the chance to try a couple of runs and Rocco got his first experience of finding a rat in a tube!

Read more about what Barn Hunt is all about in our last post. Today, we're going to show you how Rocco found the rat!

First, Rocco was introduced to the rat, who is kept safe and snug in a little tube filled with rat litter. To the right you can see Rocco checking out the rat in the tube.

A Barn Hunt course with tunnels, climbs and PVC pipe rat tubes.
Then, Rocco got his chance to find the rat in the Barn Hunt ring. Here's where it gets a bit more tricky.

THREE tubes are placed in the ring -- one with a rat, one just with litter and one that is empty. Not only does your dog need to find the tube with the rat, but then YOU, the handler, must recognize your dog's indication that he's found the rat, and then YOU must declare with certainty "RAT!"

So you can't say something like, "hmmm, I think that may be the tube with the rat." Here's where you must know your dog well enough to recognize his sign of finding the rat. Excellent dog/handler communication is key!

You'll see in our video that first, Rocco gets the chance to see all three tubes and signal to me which one contains the rat. Then, in a second run, he must find a rat that is hidden underneath some loosely piled straw, making things a bit more challenging.

Different breeds and different dogs may signal the rat with different levels of exuberance, In Rocco's case, he paused in front of the rat and then sat. I learned that was his way of telling me he found the rat.

There are lots of guidelines you must follow in order to received titles in Barn Hunt. You can find all the details in the Barn Hunt rules.  One thing that's an automatic disqualification is if a dog eliminates on the course (which is basically anything coming out of your dog that shouldn't be!).

We, a-hem, may have to work on that some. I mean the hay bales look an awful lot like the pinestraw in our backyard!

We had a fun day and got to experience the whole thing with our pals Johann and Gracie and their mum! You can read about their experience here!

We're also super excited to join our FitDog Friday co-hosts Peggy's Pet Place and SlimDoggy for this year's K9Kamp. Held twice a year (January and June), K9Kamp is a blog hop event where you can get fit with your dog! The challenge will be issued on January 24th, so be sure to and stop by to check out the challenge so that you can participate.  Then, at the end of K9Kamp, join our blog hop (co-located with FitDog Friday!) and share your experience. Everyone is invited and we'll have prizes too! 

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. It's so funny because we had never heard of a barn hunt until your post the other day. Mom was talking to Bailie's breeder this week and she mentioned that she was going to take some of her GBGV's to a barn hunt the end of February somewhere around Chicago. She had never heard of it before she signed up either. I forwarded your posts to her so she could get a bit of a feel for it. Bailie and I would be game too, but the eight hour drive and all plus we are both doing nose work and Bailie has obedience class and Mom has this dumb thing called work, we just can't fit it in.

    1. Eight hours is a bit of a drive! Barn Hunt in catching on around here like crazy. It's fun for any age dog, so it's something you can do in later years too... just like nose work. We're lucky to have some places pretty close by!

  2. My indication that Scooter had found the rat would be him 'eating' the tube - I'm sure of it!! Your dog is so good just to sit!! Not so good to leave his mark everywhere......Scooter would be doing that for sure too. Love the game & all its possibilities though.......

    1. ha! "eating" the tube shows lots of drive! Rocco just did one itty bitty mark, but that's enough for a DQ!

  3. Oooh, how fun!!! Maya and Pierson only do the "find it" for treats and only at home. I have to get creative with the hiding places because the first thing they do is look in the places they've found treats before. They seldom use their noses.

    1. I think Rocco would really rather follow motion -- like a sheep or a lure course... or a squirrel. He was most interested in the rat when it moved in the tube! I think that's pretty smart of Maya and Pierson to look at the places first where they found treats before!

  4. I am seeing activities like this and EarthDog getting more popular. Not that I feel this way but I am really surprised that there aren't more (or really, I haven't seen any) people screaming rat cruelty. I like that it activates a dog's natural instinct. Gretel got TOO nuts about it though. I couldn't calm her down for an hour and now she shreiks for 5 minutes whenever she sees (or thinks she sees) a squirrel in the park.

  5. Oh, my, this looks like so much fun! Since Ruby is part terrier I think she would enjoy this, although as you say above about Rocco, her true love is the chase. We would like to try lure coursing.

  6. Rocco is just adorable! Glad he had fun among the hay bales!