Since I plan to try out all sorts of new and different sports and activities with my whippet, I decided I will try to chronicle them in a way that might be useful for other beginners. I will add updates to these posts if I learn anything else that is new or helpful and, as always, please feel free to share your own tips and tricks in the comments! So far, I’ve written about conformation and agility. Last weekend, we were able to try Barn Hunt for the first time!
Unfortunately, there aren’t any practice opportunities near me so we had to go in without Mars having any previous experience with rats or hay. We have started in nose work so he understood he was meant to search for something, but the rat litter proved to be pretty exciting! I can’t wait to try again since he was starting to figure it out after a couple runs. He did his tunnels and climbs with ease.
What Is It?
- Barn Hunt is a relatively new sport meant to test a dog’s natural instincts to find vermin. With fewer people living on farms and needing their dogs for pest control, Barn Hunt provides a safe opportunity for dogs to prove and fulfill this instinct.
- Depending on the level, the dog must find a certain number of rats and also complete a “climb” (all four paws on the top of a hay bale at least once, even briefly) and a “tunnel” (the tunnel is created using the bales).
- Note: Live rats are used in Barn Hunt but they are secured in hard plastic tubes with air holes and each rat can only be used for a certain period of time before getting a break. As someone who has had pet rats and appreciates them, it was very important for me to see that they are treated humanely.
What I Love About It:
- It seems particularly rewarding when dogs get to do activities that fulfill their natural instincts.
- While small terriers are a natural fit, I loved the diversity of breeds I saw competing. There was even a Great Dane there!
- Like nose work, you have to trust and rely on your dog.
What I Don’t Love About It:
- The sport is picking up in popularity very quickly so far it happens in little pockets across the map. I just want more local opportunities!
Beginner Tips and Tricks:
- We are still extremely new to Barn Hunt so the only advice I can give so far is to try to attend at least one novice practice session/introduction so your dog can get excited about the rat and be confident in searching if they don’t have any other exposure to rodents.