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Indoor dog sports: barn hunt


Barn hunt is another great way to exercise and bond with your dog,  all while staying indoors and out of the cold.

Barn hunt, to put it simply, is a maze made out of straw bales. Within that maze are plastic tubes containing live rats and mice; the goal is for the dog to tunnel through the maze to find the live rats all in a specific amount of time.

I know what you are thinking. “Poor rats! I can’t believe they allow dogs to run after rats.”  Let me specify, no rats or mice are hurt during this course. They are safely protected within the plastic containers. Barn hunt allows dogs, specifically terriers, to practice what they were bred to do - find rats.

“Terrier” means “earth” in Latin. Terriers were bred to hunt vermin, and ,even though many don’t have a need to hunt vermin these days, they still have that instinct,. So a sport like barn hunt is great for them. But terriers aren’t the only dogs that can participate. Any dog over six months in age and able to crawl through an 18-inch bale-height tall tunnel made of straw, can participate.

The reason I love barn hunt is because it gives dogs plenty of exercise. They have to run through a maze. They are using their nose, which is great for burning energy, and they are doing something that they were bred to do, so it's fun and easy for them to learn. Win-win!

There are plenty of associations around the country to join, so you can participate in classes with your dog. If you decide to compete, there are competitions all around the country as well as “fun trials.” If you are interested in competing take a look at the Barn Hunt Rule Book and website.

No matter what you decide to do, barn hunt is a great way to bond with your dog and get some exercise. Have you done barn hunt with your dog? Let us know about your experience!

Read more by Erin Schneider, CPDT-KA

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Tags: Winter Activities, Indoor Activities, dog sports

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