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Rattie, Rat where are you?

January 14, 2014

I have often commented about my aversion to rodents, ok, not aversion downright squealing, chair standing fear of mice and rats.  I scream, jump, shriek at the sight or possible sighting of a mouse or a rat.  I have even run off screaming, DEAD RAT! DEAD RAT! when one of my darlings brought an offering into the house through the doggy dog (it was actually a mouse but still).    But you know in my world the dogs come first so to that end Bailey and Sienna are both enrolled in an 8 week class on the fun new sport of Barn hunting ( ).   Thankfully I don’t have to see or touch the rat! 

 Now finding rats is historically new to dogs.  Cardigans and Brussels Griffons earned their keep by helping keep the beady eyed little critters at bay back in the day.   So it isn’t any wonder that this would be a fun game for them to play. 



Bailey “on point” finding the rattie

So if you are wondering about the Barn Hunting sport here is an excerpt from the Barn Hunt Association web page about the barn hunting:

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 is based on the skills historically used by itinerant “ratcatchers” in traveling the countryside, ridding farms of vermin, thus helping conserve and preserve food grains and cutting down on disease.

While ratcatchers often used breeds such as Jack/Parson Russell Terriers, they also used other non go-to-ground breeds such as Manchester Terriers, Rat Terriers, and a variety of non-spannable breeds (breeds whose chests cannot be spanned by two hands, a mark of many go-to-ground breeds) of small to medium size. These breeds have never had an officially licensed test which truly emulates their traditional working task. Barn Hunt will fill that role.

Barn Hunt is also for any breed or mix of dog who loves to hunt and who can fit through an 18” wide gap between two hay bales. It will test speed, agility, and surefootedness. While not specifically targeted at larger dogs or dogs without a vermin hunting history, Barn Hunt is all inclusive and fun for any dog and human who wishes to play the game.

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. Teamwork will win the game.

Barn Hunt can be held indoors or outdoors, in a barn-like setting or on any piece of level ground approximately 20 x 30 feet that can be enclosed securely by gating/fencing.

As a sporting event, all participants in Barn Hunt are expected to operate within a code of good sportsmanship. No punitive or corrective training is allowed on trial grounds. Any handler who verbally or physically abuses his or her dog either in or out of the ring can face discipline from dismissal from class to dismissal from show grounds and expulsion from future events, depending on the severity of the action. Any handler who displays lack of sportsmanship toward the judge, stewards, or fellow competitors can also face disciplinary action. Barn Hunt is a family sport and should be treated as such. Curse words uttered during the dog’s hunt will mean an instant Non-Qualifying run.

At all times, the safety of the dogs, handlers, and rats is to be of paramount importance. Rats will be humanely handled and safely confined in aerated PVC tubes; Barn Hunt is not intended to harm or kill rats.


Both of the girls were interested in the rat and Bailey cracked me up she acted like a birddog on point when she found the tube with the rat, her body got still and her ears went way up and she got this intense look on her face and a wrinkle in her brow.  Sienna, was more low-key, which sort of surprised me, she indicated there was something in the tube but she wasn’t nearly as excited as I thought she would be about the critter in the tube, I am thinking a little more exposure will help her excitement level.   There is a trial at the end of the month so hopefully we will be able to test out our skills. 

Stay tuned!


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