Barn Hunt is a fun sport for all dogs of any breed or mix that can fit through an 18” wide by bale-height tall tunnel. Dogs search for one or more rats (safely housed in aerated tubes) on a course made of straw bales. The dog has to find the correct number of rats within a set time limit. The judge does not tell the handler when a rat is found; instead, the handler must tell the judge. Each dog hunts and indicates differently, the handler’s ability to understand the dog’s signal is important. Dogs also have to go through a tunnel and climb on at least one bale. In addition to rat tube(s) there will also be empty tubes and tubes with used rat bedding but no rat. There are levels of difficulty from Instinct on up through Master with increasing challenges.
You can find all the rules at barnhunt.com – Barn Hunt activities in Canada are judged by the Canadian Kennel Club.
Are the rats hurt?
Absolutely not! Barn Hunt has lots of rules about proper rat care. We use friendly, domesticated rats, most of which are beloved pets. Rats are never hurt in this sport and they seem to like the game, readily hopping into the tubes to get to work.
The following Barn Hunt titles, earned after January 1, 2018, are recognized by the Canadian Kennel Club:
RATN – Barn Hunt Novice
RATO – Barn Hunt Open
RATS – Barn Hunt Senior
RATM – Barn Hunt Master
RATCH – Barn Hunt Champion
RATCHX – Barn Hunt Champion X
Barn Hunt Events held in conjunction with CKC events.
I want to watch. Is that okay?
Barn Hunt is a spectator sport, and we want you to watch and enjoy!
You may also want to go and see an event as a spectator to consider whether you would like to participate. Check the Canadian Kennel Club event calendar and the internet event directory sites Canuckdogs.com for information on upcoming shows.
There are just a few rules to follow when attending a Barn Hunt:
- Ask the club where you can stand, they will make sure you can see.
- Please don’t lean or prop on the fence.
- Be careful! Competitors are not supposed to know where the rat is. Don’t accidentally give the location of the rat away. Don’t talk about it to friends, or gesture, or start getting excited. Even avoid clicking a camera more often as the dog nears the location.
- Oh, and no flash cameras please.
- If you have a dog or dogs with you, those dogs need to be at least 10 feet away from the rings at all times. We don’t want to distract the dog in the ring.
- Stay away from the blinded staging area please, that’s where the next competitors are waiting.
- Also stay away from the resting area for the rats. When not working in the ring, the rats are kept in a quiet place and are not to be bothered.
- If you are very near the fence, a competitor or rat wrangler (that’s the person inside the ring helping remove the rats) may want to hand a rat tube over the fence near you. Back away and let the outside person designated to remove the tubes take it.
If you have questions, most Barn Hunt people are super friendly. Ask away!
If you take the plunge and enter your dog at an event, you might win
and need a CKC Barn Hunt Title Application