What is Barn Hunt?
Barn Hunt is a simulated rat hunting sport for all breeds of dog. In an enclosed ring, dogs race over and under straw bales to find rats hidden inside plastic tubes and must also complete both a climb (jump onto a bale) and a tunnel (a dark passageway surrounded by bales) to receive a qualifying score. Any faults or rule-breaking will result in a non-qualifying score, which won't count towards the dog's progression through the levels.
Are the rats harmed in Barn Hunt?
No live rats are used in Barn Hunt UK due to the UK's strict animal rights laws. Instead, deceased frozen rats are purchased from reptile food suppliers, who raise their rats to exacting standards and humanely euthanise them. The rats would otherwise be sold to reptile owners and are not bred or raised specifically for Barn Hunt.
In competition and training, the rats are always enclosed in sturdy plastic tubes so that no dogs can reach them.
What else is hidden in the tubes?
There are three types of tube on a course: rat tubes, litter tubes and empty tubes. Rat tubes are the ones that dogs must find and they only contain a rat. Litter tubes (or bedding tubes) are distraction tubes, which contain used rat bedding. They produce the smell of rat without containing any actual rats. Dogs must discriminate between the existence of odour (litter tubes) and the source of odour (rat tubes). Empty tubes have nothing in them and are the other type of distraction tube. These tubes are intended to be a visual trick. Any dog that is truly searching for rats - not just looking for tubes - will ignore an empty tube.
Does Barn Hunt have to happen in a barn?
Not at all. Training classes and competitions can be held anywhere that allows dogs and is large enough to safely fit a course. Examples may include village halls, on grass, in commercial warehouses, in equestrian centres or in actual barns.
I don't have a terrier, can my dog still compete?
Of course! Barn Hunt is open to all breeds and sizes of dog. Even deaf, partially sighted and three-legged dogs can compete.
I have a big dog, will they be at a disadvantage?
There are three height divisions in Barn Hunt. This is due to the fact that different sizes of dogs will encounter different challenges on the course - the larger dogs are more likely to have difficulty with the tunnel, for example. However, the course stays the same for each division and no elements get lower or higher depending on the dog's height. The height divisions exist to ensure that each dog has a fair chance at placing (achieving 1st to 4th), as placements are awarded in each division.
How do I get started?
Barn Hunt is very new to the UK and currently there are no trials being held. However, taster workshops will soon be on offer.