Barn hunt (in a nutshell) is a wonderful new sport where basically a course of straw bales is created and the dogs must navigate the course (perform a tunnel and climb at least one bale) while trying to locate a rat (yes alive) in a very secure tube while ignoring the distraction tubes that are either empty or contain used rat bedding. It is a really fun and challenging sport! Check out more information about it HERE.
Do the rats ever get hurt?
Absolutely not. The DogJoy rats spend 98% of their time chilling out in their huge rat condos in their own climate controlled bedroom in Mrs. DogJoy's home. They have various types of food, hammocks, and other toys to keep them busy. When it's time to work, they're placed in very heavy Schedule 40 PVC tubes and then they go to work. The rats seem to really enjoy participating in training, trials, and especially road trips! Once they get too old to work or don't want to hop in the tubes to go to work anymore, they retire to the "rat room" for the remainder of their life.
Rat care and safety is paramount in the sport.
I/My dog's never done this before, what should I enter for the trials?
Instinct and Novice are the two classes offered to dogs that have never done this sport or do not have a title yet. Below are the descriptions of what your dog can do and what is required at that level. Both must be run off leash, no food, toys, etc are allowed. If your dog eliminates on the course (just like in other performance sports), you will be required to leave the course. You do not have to compete in both classes and you do not have to compete in Instinct before you can enter Novice. You may enter BOTH classes as well in the same trial. Instinct is only offered at the AM trial.
Instinct is a set course where the three tubes are left in the open at the far end of the ring. Your dog does NOT have to perform the tunnel or the climb. Simply call your pup to the far end and show them the tubes. Once you feel your dog has found the correct tube, yell RAT! You have a minute to do this.
Novice is the first variable course situation that is offered to green pups. The judge sets a course and all the Novice dogs will run on it. There is a tunnel (short and no turns) that must be performed and a climb must be performed (all four feet on a bale at one time). The three tubes (rat, bedding, and empty) will be hidden on the course. Once your dog finds the rat, you need to yell RAT! You have 90 seconds to perform all three parts.
More specifics on competing and course requirements is HERE in the rules.
I'm competing in multiple events at the World Series of Dog Shows, can I still do Barn Hunt too?
Due to the conflicts and logistics with this big show (we've been there many, many times ourselves!), we scheduled the trial so that one ring only runs 1-2 classes and the judge stays put there (judges change rings daily but not during the day). Basically this gives you the biggest target possible to hit your class. Blinds will be flexible, but you need to come by the start of class as much as possible, say you have a conflict, and then show up as soon as you can and we'll put you in the first available blind so you can get on to your next event. Just be there before the class ends as we're not holding classes for anyone.
All the logistical information is HERE on this spreadsheet. The counts and such are on one tab and the proposed schedule is the next tab. That's just the guesstimate times for classes, but you can see the order of classes. We expect each class to last on average 2 hours (but possibly longer for Novice and Instinct). Once entries close, we'll update the individual days to reflect the entries and those time frame. Keep in mind we are doing Day of Show entries each day as able, so that will skew the times a little more as well.
What is the difference between the workshops?
Judges workshop is for those interested in becoming a judge or are already a judge and are needing continuing education. Auditing spots are available for those that wish to hear more about the rules and other advanced ruling concepts about the sport.
Intro workshops are for those dogs and handlers that haven't done barn hunt before or maybe need a refresher. It will be a 4 hours (ish) workshop with a lecture portion and then a hands on portion. Pre-entered Intro workshop participants will get a free run in the run throughs following the workshop to test their new skills!
Advanced workshop is for handling concepts and strategy on the barn hunt course. It is a lecture session with demos offered to discuss key points. Great for beginner or advanced handler alike to learn more about how to read the courses and make decisions about handling their pups!
Does my dog need training first?
Many dogs with or without prey drive/tendencies can show up and get through the Instinct course because the scent is "new and interesting" to them. Once they acclimate to it however, they tend to increase or decrease their interest which can cause you to need additional training. This week at the Great Houston Barn Hunt is designed to hopefully give you a chance to try the sport in the Intro Workshop and run throughs and/or enter the trial based on your confidence level.
If you would prefer to do outside training, there are a few places across Texas and many across the country that can definitely help out both with new and seasoned pups! Training for Barn Hunt is no different than training for other sports as the levels get increasingly difficult and both handler and pup can use some fine tuning no matter how naturally good the team is. See the MAP at Barn Hunt Website for a club near you.
What is a "run through"?
A run through is a casual way to try out the sport on Wednesday evening or to prep your trial pup for the rings before the trial starts. We will be running the rings according to the new Fun Test modifications (noncrumbly food allowed, can run on leash, etc). Instinct, Novice, and Open type courses will be available. We can hide additional rats on the Open courses for those upper level people but the time will not exceed the Open course time unless you buy additional runs to make up the difference. Email DOGJOY about wanting to run longer times so you can get the runs correct.
What order will the classes run? Which judges judge X class on Y day? Did you get my Tshirt/workshop/run through entry? How many more runs of X class are remaining on Y day/trial?
All the logistical information and non-trial confirmations are HERE on this spreadsheet. The counts and such are on one tab and the proposed schedule is the next tab. That's just the guesstimate times for classes, but you can see the order of classes. We expect each trial class to last on average 2 hours (but possibly longer for Novice and Instinct). Once entries close, we'll update the individual days to reflect the entries and those time frame. Keep in mind we are doing Day of Show entries each day as able, so that will skew the times a little more as well.
How do I volunteer?
We love love love our volunteers! There is a link at the top of the PORTAL page to sign up to help as well as on your entry form. Either option will get your information to me and I'll put you on the spreadsheet HERE. If you don't see your name or you want to simply show up, we'll definitely put you to work! Thanks and so much love for y'all!
What is required at each class level?
The BARN HUNT RULES detail out this information in great detail so be sure to check those out - they are the absolute requirements that judges follow. Below are some pdf images (not created by DogJoy but generously shared with the Barn Hunt community) that show you offhand. BE AWARE THAT SOME OF THE REQUIREMENTS ON BALE HEIGHTS IN THESE PICTURES HAS CHANGED WITH THE NEW RULES. I'm trying to find updated pdfs. :) All dogs must start out in Instinct or Novice and progress up the levels (no one can start out in say, Senior).
How do I get a Barn Hunt number? Do I need a Barn Hunt number?
Barn Hunt numbers are required to be able to enter official Barn Hunt events. This means for the Great Houston Barn Hunt, you need one to compete in the trials, but not the run throughs or workshops. Simply go HERE and create a log in. Once you have one, click on "My Dogs" and enter your dog's information. There is a nominal fee that covers that dog's title tracking for it's entire life. Once you have that number, you can now enter trials.