What Is Barn Hunt?
Barn Hunt is a canine sporting event regulated by the Barn Hunt Association (BHA) inspired by the American Kennel Club (AKC)’s Earth Dog sporting event. In Barn Hunt events, dogs and handlers work together to find live rats hidden in hay bale mazes.
The Background Of Barn Hunt
Barn Hunt was created by Robin Nuttal when her miniature pinscher, Zipper, was not allowed to participate in the American Kennel Club (AKC)’s Earth Dog sporting event. At the time she applied for Zipper to compete, miniature pinschers were not eligible to participate in Earth Dog. As a result, Barn Hunt was born, offering the fun of rodent hunting to any dog who could fit into an eighteen inch wide, bale height, hay bale tunnel.
Why Participate In Barn Hunt With Your Dog?
Barn Hunt is a great way to:
- Test your dog’s rodent hunting skills.
- Provide mental stimulation for your dog.
- Make working on training fun.
- Provide with your dog with a motivating reward to work on training.
- Provide a bonding opportunity between you and your dog.
Most dogs are naturally drawn to this activity, but some were bred for it specifically. It is very interesting and quite amazing to watch a dog who has never been around rodents take to Barn Hunt like they have done it before. The natural instincts your dog inherited from his or her ancestors may surprise you!
What Dogs Are Eligible To Participate In Barn Hunt?
The Barn Hunt Association (BHA) is a special organization because it was formed as a result of a miniature pinscher named Zipper being excluded from Earth Dog events. They recognize that all dogs should be permitted to participate in an activity.
Your dog will not be excluded from the fun of participating as long as he or she can fit inside of an eighteen inch wide, bale height, hay bale tunnel.
The assortment of dogs participating is really unique; it is a beautiful display of the bond between dogs and their people.
What Breeds Of Dog Do Best At Barn Hunt?
The only limitation for participation is size. In reality, almost any dog could participate in Barn Hunt. What your dog needs is the drive to do it.
How Do I Get Started In Barn Hunt?
To get started in Barn Hunt, you will need to:
- First review the BHA Competitor’s Handbook to learn about how to participate in Barn Hunt events. This will help you determine if it is a good match for you and your dog.
- Next, locate a Barn Hunt Association (BHA) club near you here.
- You also will need to register your dog with BHA here. To learn more about registration, review BHA’s Barn Hunt Register User Guide.
Barn Hunt Association’s Crazy 8s Classes
The Crazy 8s Classes have no prerequisite, which makes them a great way to get started with your dog; they are either a part of a trial or “fun match”. Dogs may achieve four titles participating in Crazy 8s events by earning points:
- Crazy 8s Bronze (CZ8B), awarded to dogs who have earned five hundred points.
- Crazy 8s Silver (CZ8S), awarded to dogs who have earned CZ8B plus five hundred additional points, totaling one thousand points.
- Crazy 8s Gold (CZ8G), available to dogs who have earned a CZ8S, plus five hundred points, totaling one thousand five hundred points.
- Crazy 8s Platinum (CZ8P) available to dogs who have earned a CZ8G, plus five hundred points, totaling two thousand points.
For dogs who achieve the CZ8P, they may continue to earn additional titles in increments of five hundred points.
Barn Hunt Titles
There are ten titles that dogs may earn by participating in events held by the Barn Hunt Association (BHA). Each level becomes increasingly difficult, making earning all ten a great achievement. The ten titles are:
- To participate in Barn Hunt, a dog begins with Barn Hunt Instinct (RATI). This is the instinct test dogs complete with their handlers to see if they have the instincts necessary to Barn Hunt. It is the first title that may be achieved in this sport.
- Novice A Barn Hunt (RATN) is the next available title once a dog has achieved their RATI.
- Novice B RATNX is available once a dog has achieved RATN.
- Open A Barn Hunt (RATO) is available to dogs who have achieved their RATN.
- Open B (RATOX) is available to dogs who have achieved their RATO.
- Senior A Barn Hunt (RATS) is available to dogs who have achieved their RATO.
- Senior B (RATSX) is available to dogs who have achieved their RATS.
- Master A Barn Hunt (RATM) is available to dogs who have achieved their RATS.
- Barn Hunt Champion (RATCh) and Master Champion (RATChX) are available to dogs who have achieved their RATM.
For complete information on BHA titles, review their Official Competitor Rulebook here.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes the following (BHA) titles:
- Novice Barn Hunt (RATN)
- Open Barn Hunt (RATO)
- Senior Barn Hunt (RATS)
- Master Barn Hunt (RATM)
- Barn Hunt Champion (RATCh)
- Master Champion (RATChX)
- Crazy 8s Bronze (CZ8B)
- Crazy 8s Silver (CZ8S)
- Crazy 8s Gold (CZ8G)
- Crazy 8s Platinum (CZ8P)
Even though the AKC and BHA are separate entities, the AKC recognizes BHA titles when owners apply for their dog’s BHA titles to be recognized. To have your dog’s BHA titles recognized by the AKC, complete the AKC’s Barn Hunt title recognition application form here.
Are Rats Killed or Hurt In Barn Hunt Events?
No! The rats used in Barn Hunt are safely contained in tubes made to be strong enough to withstand a dog’s bite. These tubes are large enough for a rat to comfortably move around inside in, and they are provided bedding to ensure their comfort. Rats have been known to groom themselves or even nap in these tubes at BHA events!
The Barn Hunt Association (BHA) ensures the safety of rats at events with the assistance of a Rat Wrangler. The Rat Wrangler must follow the BHA’s rules for wrangling the rats.
There are also additional safety guidelines in the Official Competitor Handbook. These rules were created with “assistance from well-qualified sources who have spent decades studying, housing, and caring for rats“.
Barn Hunt is a great activity for any breed of dog; it offers mental stimulation for dogs based upon their natural instincts. Most dogs are naturally drawn to rodents, making it a fun way to bond with and to train your dog. To get started, locate a Barn Hunt Association (BHA) club near you here.