What age CAN my dog start Barn Hunt? What age DO YOU RECOMMEND starting Barn Hunt?
I own a large dog (a non-Terrier, a mixed breed dog), can they do Barn Hunt?
Absolutely! Barn Hunt is open to all breeds and mixes of dogs, all ages of dogs, and many disabled dogs.
Dogs can begin BHA sanctioned competitions at 6 months of age. To enroll in my classes, dogs must have had their rabies shot along with other age-appropriate vaccines, so dogs can attend at 16 weeks of age or older.
However, I do not recommend starting Barn Hunt young.
First Barn Hunt is an instinctual sport, and many young dogs do not have the instincts or the experience to understand what we want of them in the Barn Hunt ring. This is not to say that enrollment will be a bad experience. It will mean socialization and positive experiences in a new environment, but it will not necessarily translate to being a good or bad Barn Hunter later in life.
Second is my own personal training philosophy. I own "crazies" who live by the motto "All things with enthusiasm." I spend most of their early years working on obedience, impulse control, and relationship building. Once we have control and solid off switches, they are introduced to sports that allow unbridled, unrestrained chaos as rewards for living their everyday lives being "good dogs." But training philosophies are personal, and I will treat you no different whether you enroll your dog as an 18-week old puppy or a 2 year old dog.
My dog has never done barn hunt, how do we get started?
You should attend one of our Intro to Barn Hunt Workshops. In these workshops, we will test your dog's instincts for prey hunting and you will be introduced to the rules and workings of the sport.
I have multiple dogs... I have a beagle and a whippet... Dog A is really food motivated, while dog B is really toy motivated... Which dog will be the best candidate for attending a workshop? What traits do you look for in a potential Barn Hunt dog?
Barn Hunt is an instinctual sport that exercises and tests a dog's prey drive. Specifically, it exercises and tests hunt drive, the aspect of prey drive that makes a dog want to seek out and kill prey (NOTE: we NEVER kill the rats in Barn Hunt). Thanks to selective breeding, certain breeds have been developed to do this type of work, but a large number of dogs in other breeds also exhibit such instincts. Therefore, evaluating a dog for Barn Hunt is more related to that dog's own personality and not any breed characteristics. In my opinion, the best candidates for Barn Hunt are those that like to chase "small fuzzies" (cats, squirrels, mice). As the chase instinct is a different aspect of prey drive, a desire to chase does not always equal a desire to hunt, but it is often our best evaluator before attendance in a workshop. Additionally, I teach Barn Hunt so that the rat is the primary reinforcer (as opposed to food or toys), so those motivations do not assist in training Barn hunt.
My dog doesn't get along with other dogs. My dog is aggressive toward dogs/people. Can she still participate?
For dog to dog issues, it depends on the extent. Dogs that can function and focus on leash while around other dogs can definitely participate. Dogs will work off leash, but will be isolated from other dogs during this time. Dogs that have extreme dog aggression are not allowed, and any dog that attacks another dog will be banned from all future events.
Dogs that are human aggressive are not allowed. A minimum of two people, plus the handler, will be in the ring while the dog is off leash, and numerous others will be nearby. Dogs that are fearful of humans can participate in classes, as long as the fear doesn't manifest itself as aggression. Please inform the instructor of fear issues.
My dog chases squirrels/kills mice all the time so he doesn't need an introduction, can we attend one of your Advanced Classes or an Open Practice?
That's equivalent to saying my dog jumps, so we are ready for advanced agility. To gain access to my advanced classes, you must attend one of my Intro to Barn Hunt Classes. Handlers AND dogs must have Barn Hunt experience to attend Open Practice; see next question for my definition of experience.
Who can attend Open Practice?
All dogs that have attended any of my classes, dogs that have attended Barn Hunt classes elsewhere, and dogs that are actively competing in BHA sanctioned trials.
Handlers that have attended one of my classes may be granted permission to run dogs with no experience, on a case-by-case basis.
My female came into heat. Can we still come to the workshop we are enrolled in?
Unfortunately no. We cannot accommodate females in heat in group classes or at open practice. In fact, bitches in season are not allowed on site at either location while we are teaching workshops or holding open practice. If you have registered for a class and your female goes into heat, you have a few options. First, you can bring a different dog. Second, you can pull out of the class and use your payment for a future class, after the female goes out of heat. Or third, I will give you a refund.
Almost all sanctioned BHA events do accommodate bitches in season, but handlers must notify the trial officials. They will be expected to crate and potty in designated areas, must run in pants, and will go last in their class.
Are rats harmed during Barn Hunt? Are rats killed at the end of the day?
Absolutely not! We maintain three small groups of entirely female rats. All are well socialized, well cared for, and work hard for us 2-3 days a month. The rest of their lives are spent being spoiled pets. At the start of each Intro to Barn Hunt class, handlers are introduced to the girls and encouraged to handle them to dispel any myths that our rats are gross pests. The reality is domesticated rats are much more like miniature dogs who require socialization, exercise, and interaction, than they are to their wild relatives.
My dog is AKC registered, where do I find an AKC Barn Hunt? A UKC Barn Hunt?
There is no such thing! At the current time, only one organization sanctions Barn Hunts and that is the Barn Hunt Association. All dogs compete at BHA sanctioned trials. You then submit fees and BHA certificates to the AKC or UKC to have your titles recognized by them.