If your dog is constantly on the prowl for squirrels, moles and any other critters that appear in your backyard, then they should be a natural for the fun sport of Barn Hunt.
As of April 1, 2013, the American Kennel Club recognizes titles earned at events sanctioned by the Barn Hunt Association (BHA).
The sport of Barn Hunt is based on the hunting and teamwork skills historically used by “rat catchers,” who traveled the countryside ridding farms of vermin. Dogs and handlers work as a team to locate and mark rats (safe and aerated tubes) hidden in a maze of straw or hay bales. The event is open to all dogs.
“Barn Hunt tests the nose, speed, agility, and surefootedness of dogs that have a history of above-ground vermin hunting,” said Robin Nuttall, founder of the Barn Hunt Association. “We quickly found out that many breeds and mixed breeds enjoy the search and can excel at this sport.”
Barn Hunt events include a pass/fail Instinct class for owners who want to familiarize their dog with the test. The AKC will recognize titles at four testing levels above Instinct: Novice, Open, Senior and Master. Dogs can continue in Master and achieve the Barn Hunt Championship. Courses are made increasingly difficult by adding more obstacles, additional diversions, and more rats to find. The BHA has developed the sport to be fun for all participants, plus easy and inexpensive to hold.
Legs, or qualifying scores, toward Barn Hunt titles are earned by the dog and handler team completing the course within maximum course time. Placements based on time are awarded, but Barn Hunt is a non-competitive event and teams do not have to beat other dogs to title.
“We are pleased to work with the Barn Hunt Association to recognize Barn Hunt titles on a dog’s AKC record,” said Doug Ljungren, VP for Companion and Performance Events. “Barn Hunt is another great way for dogs to test their instinct and for both owners and dogs to enjoy a fun activity together.”
If owners choose to apply, Barn Hunt titles will appear on their dog’s AKC pedigree. The Barn Hunt title application form and information regarding holding Barn Hunt in conjunction with AKC events can be found on the AKC's Title Recognition Program website, /dog_shows_trials/titles/barn_hunt/index.cfm.
For more information, including official rules and event application process, visit www.barnhunt.com. Comments or questions can be emailed to PerformanceEvents@akc.org.