The sport of Barn Hunt is based upon the vermin hunting skills of dogs historically prized by rat catchers and farmers. Ridding farms of vermin was critical in preserving food grains and reducing the risk of disease. While travelling rat catchers typically had a variety of terriers and go-to-ground breeds in tow, working farmers often expected their dogs to serve a variety of roles and preferred versatile dogs, capable of protection, herding, companionship, and vermin hunting abilities and thus sought the most versatile of dogs regardless of breed, mix, or size. Therefore, Barn Hunt is open to all breeds, mixes, and sizes of dogs.
The purpose of Barn Hunt is to demonstrate a dog’s vermin hunting ability in finding and marking rats in a “barn-like” setting, using stray/hay bales to introduce climbing and tunneling obstacles in the dog’s path. Barn Hunt tests speed, agility, and surefootedness. All dogs are expected to complete one climb, moving all four feet from the ground onto a bale, and complete one tunnel, an increasingly complex setup of bales with an 18” tall gap. Barn Hunt was sanctioned to provide an officially licensed event to test the vermin hunting abilities in breeds that were historically considered vermin hunters, yet are not traditional go-to-ground breeds. So while not specifically targeted at larger breeds or dogs of breeds without a vermin hunting history, Barn Hunt is all inclusive and fun for any dog and human who wishes to play the game.
As a sporting event, Barn Hunt has varying levels of difficulty, with dogs moving up progressively, and dogs earn titles and championships. Barn Hunts can be held indoors or outdoors, in a “barn-like” setting, or on any piece of relatively level ground that can be enclosed securely with fencing. At all times, the safety of the dogs, handlers, and rats is to be of paramount importance. Rats will be humanely handled and safely confined, both during and outside of events. It is never the intent for rats are to be harmed or killed.
First and foremost, Barn Hunt is about having FUN!