Barn Hunt, A New Dog Sport

by Jamie Bozzi

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History of the Sport

A number of dog breeds were specifically bred to be vermin hunters. Some breeds were meant to go to ground (hunt underground). Some of those traditional breeds included Jack and Parson Russell terriers, Cairn terriers, border terriers and dachshunds, to name a few. Other breeds were used exclusively above ground to eradicate vermin. Some of those breeds included rat terriers, miniature pinschers, German pinschers and Manchester terriers.

Wild rats did, and do, spread disease (including plague and leptospirosis) and cause damage to homes, farms, buildings, grain, and crops. Historically, rat catchers would go from town to town with packs of dogs and sell their skills, ridding the area of rats. Today, dogs still help farmers control rat populations.

How Barn Hunt was Born

Responsible breeders always want to make sure that they have the correct working temperament. Barn Hunt was invented by a miniature pinscher owner who wanted to test her dog’s drive. The only go-to ground dog sport was Earthdog, which at the time, was not open to the miniature pinscher breed.

Who Can Play

Barn Hunt is one of the fastest growing dog sports in the United States. It’s fun for both dogs and their people. Everyone is welcome to participate, from seasoned dog sport competitors to first timers. The sport welcomes any and all dogs of any size, breed, or mix who can fit through an 18-in.-wide hay bale tunnel.

Barn Hunt Basics

In Barn Hunt, both the dog and the handler learn hunting and teamwork skills. Dogs and their handlers work together to locate and mark rats (which are always safely housed in aerated tubes) hidden in a maze of hay bales. Barn Hunt tests the nose, speed, and agility of the dogs.

Barn Hunt events include a pass/fail instinct class for owners who want to familiarize their dog with the test. Courses are made more challenging at each level, adding obstacles, diversions, and even more rats!

Fun Facts

Dogs were used during WWI to help control rats in the trenches. In fact, there’s even a dedicated group of volunteers in New York City who patrol the alleys.

All levels of Barn Hunt classes are offered at the new Dream Dogs facility located in Bermuda Dunes by instructor Lori Carman (Master Trainer). For more information, contact Dream Dogs at (760) 899-7272.

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