Barn Hunt-The New Dog Sport

A New Sport For Dogs

dog participating in a barn hunt

Barn Hunt – the New Dog Sport

Barn Hunt – the new dog sport is a new way of exercising and interacting with your dog. New that is to suburbanites who have not lived on or near a farm. You really don’t even need a barn for a Barn Hunt. You will however, need quite a few bales of hay. Because of the need for hay bales, you might just wind up on a farm in a barn for lessons or competitions. After some serious study you might even find yourself at a downtown convention center for a Barn Hunt regional or national competition.

The object in Barn Hunt is for the dog to do all the work. With their nose and instinct they must find either a rat (in a ventilated protective tube) or the empty rat nest (same type tube but no rat inside).  During a Barn Hunt, the handler cannot touch the dog in any way. The handler can encourage the dog to keep hunting. The dog indicates the found rat with an observable behavior like a bark or sit or down.

No Animals Harmed

The rats are clean, tame and conditioned to work like a Hollywood film star. They’re “on script” for an hour or two. Then they get a break to relax away from the action. They are never harmed in any way. It’s all in a day’s work to them. It’s like they have a SAG (Screen Actors Guild) card and an agent as well!


dog participating in a barn hunt


A Dog Doing a Job

Rather than making the rules, a dog entered in a barn hunt must follow rules. The first big rule is no peeing on the hay bales or your turn’s over! Dogs must go through a tunnel, climb to a second tier of bales and of course find the real rat, not just the empty tubes where the rat once was. There may be one or more rats hiding in the bales of hay in advanced levels and all must be found within a set time.

The American Kennel Club and the Barn Hunt Association have a list of rules and barn hunt trials where dogs are working to gain a title starting at Novice all the way to Champion! Barn Hunt is an independent sport, but titles are recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), the United Kennel Club (UKC), and the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC).