Barn Hunt... dogs finding rats safely tucked away in a tube and then telling their handlers they found it. That's it! Sounds simple doesn't it? Well, for some dogs it is and others, well, not so much. This is from the Barn Hunt website:
Barn Hunt is based on the traditional roles of many breeds in ridding farms, barns, crop storage areas, and homes of destructive vermin. Some breeds were specifically created to fill this role, and for many of those breeds, Barn Hunt provides their first true opportunity for responsible breeders to test proper working traits in their dogs. Barn Hunt is also open to any dog of any breed or mix who wishes to play the game and can fit through an 18" wide by bale-height tall tunnel
And now you want to know more, right? First thing, click here to check out the Barn Hunt website.
I was introduced to the sport at the second trial offered in Wisconsin in 2013 with Jake. He excelled in it and was one of the first 2 dogs in WI to reach the Master level and the 1st dog to achieve a RATCHX in the sport and won a SILVER medal at the National Competition at Purina Farms.
So what was I to do with Mookie.. well, of course, see if he's interested in rats and I'm happy to report that YES he is after being introduced to them! He has as much enthusiasm as Jake did without the ability to get his mouth around the tube to try to carry it off as Jake would!
Following is the journey we are on to find rats in tubes hidden in bales of straw!!
2023.6-7 June/July - no trials in June but some private lessons! July trial he found a rat in Crazy 8s and then Q'd in 2 novice runs and FINALLY got 10 Q's to earn the RATNX title!! Decided to enter Open where there are 2 rats and he told me NOTHING!! Oh well! Back to private lessons and did 4 searches, 5 rats each and he alerted on them ALL in 25 minutes!! Progress and my guess, trial nerves affect his performance because there are more people around! That will change because I know he can do it since he just proved it with the practice searches!!
2023.5 May- Well, we moved 40 points closer to a Crazy 8s title but have a LONG way to go!! Mookie happily found (and told me he found!!) 2 rats and successfully did the tunnel and climb! Then back to Novice to get those last 2 legs for his X title and, what do you know, he happily again alerted on litter tubes!! I see more practice sessions in his future in June!!
2023.4 April - Crazy 8s - first time! Found a rat, climbed and tunneled! 30 points!! YAY Then went 1/2 in Novice B and was pretty good! Sunday, looked at a tube in Crazy 8s but I didn't call it because he wasn't barking or digging... Timed out but 1/2 for Novice B so now we're up to 8 Qs!! YAY! Back for more practice before the May trial!!
Below are some of the ribbons he earned so far!!2023.3 March - I got the bug again... signed up for a lesson and let him find rats over and over!! 2 more NQs 1st day of trial and then 2 Qs! The pendulum had swung... TOO FAR... Trial 1 Sunday he did an amazing search for Q but then in Trial 2 all he wanted to do was jump and grab my arm! He squeaked by and Q'd but almost lost it for out of control because I couldn't catch him!! Back to another lesson and had some "discussions" about proper etiquette in the ring! :)
2022 November/December - One Q and then UH-OH... some NQs then more NQs... He started to love the search but what happened... to go from 8 of 10 to 0 of 6 was a puzzle. He was not unhappy but just wouldn't tell me when he found the rat! So I decided to take the winter off and have him start again in the spring! Was he smart enough to realize that when he found one rat the party was over so how to stop that... just don't alert!
2022 October - Another day of hunting rats and 2 more novice legs toward his Novice RATNX title (10 additional Qs) He's getting more confident and more assertive when telling me he found the rat. AND... he got a High in Trial award in one of his runs!
2022 September - His FIRST trial and he got 2 titles!
- RATI (Rat Instinct) (Click for BH title certificate) 3 tubes, 1 rat, 1 litter and 1 blank. I think he didn't recognize that there could be a rat in one because he did a great search on the bales. Finally I took him to them and he did a tiny head shift when he went by one so I called it and YEP.. it was the one!
- RATN (Rat Novice) (Click for BH title certificate) 3 days of trials.. 2 trials/day. First 2 days he was figuring it out and we got one Q each day. He identified them but didn't tell me and when we did get the Q, I was proactive in asking him and getting excited with him. Day 3 was different. It still was a team effort but he clearly is getting it and searching really well!! 2 Qs meaning we got the 3 for the Novice title and 1 in Novice B towards our RATNX title!
2022 August - Mookie met the rats at Oh Rats in Sheboygan Falls. He was a wild child and his alert was a high squeaky bark added to a bit of digging. You can see a few videos and photos by clicking here.