The Hunt for The Rat


Are you searching for something to do with your dog? A new event to get the juices flowing for your buddy? I have a solution.


Over the weekend I partook once more in a ‘barn hunt’. A Barn Hunt is an organized event for dogs where the dog has to identify a live rat hidden among a hay bale maze.


As I have said before in a past blog, I like this natural game for dogs because it allows the dog to do something instinctive and requires no ‘training’. The maze of bales is completely enclosed with regulation fencing. The rats are protected in PVC piping which is made to specific specification including size, number and size of more than adequate ventilation and solid screw caps in ensure there are no accidental injuries to the rats. Strict rules govern how many trials a rat can participate in before taking a break (and can be pulled after any run if the rat shows signs of stress) in a well sequestered area, which is an area separate from the trial area with no admittance except for the rat wrangler (the person responsible for the physical and mental health of the rats throughout the trials). I must say they pay great attention to the wellbeing of the rats which I appreciate.


Dogs of all sizes  and ‘nationalities’ can participate and don’t need any training or classes so anyone can go to a barn hunt with their dog and have a great time for an afternoon. For the beginner, the instinct class should be entered.  This class event is to discover if a dog has a nose for the game and if the guardian (or handler) can identify when his dog has found a rat.


Finding the rat isn’t as easy as one might think. There are empty rat tubes, some tubes that only have rat litter in them and one to five tubes that have the live rats- all hidden among bales and loose straw. And of course there is a time limit in which the dog can find the rat.


This is becoming a very popular event throughout the country, in large part because the dogs are truly enjoying themselves and virtually anyone can participate.


If you are looking for something to do with your best friend, you would do well to look up a local Barn Hunt, go there in the morning to register your dog in the instinct class, pack a lunch and watch how much fun you and your dog have in an afternoon. The dog park pales compared to a barn hunt.  And the experience level required for participation is about the same.


 Go to  for information on rules, requirements and local ‘hunts’.


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