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The Growing Trend of Barn Hunt Dog Sport in 2024

The Growing Trend of Barn Hunt Dog Sport in 2024

Barn Hunt, a rapidly expanding dog sport in the country, involves your furry friend navigating tunnels in bales of hay or straw to seek out live rats hidden in sealed tubes, all done in a safe and controlled environment, according to organizers.

The Importance of Barn Hunt

Engaging your dog in sports like agility and obedience gives them a new sense of purpose and excitement while strengthening the bond between you and your four-legged companion.

In Barn Hunt, dogs are trained to maneuver through an obstacle course filled with live rats in aerated PVC tubes, along with empty tubes that may or may not carry the scent of rat.

Dogs leap onto scratchy hay bales and maneuver through dark, twisting tunnels to discover an increasing number of hidden rats.

The rats are pets that reportedly enjoy interacting with the dogs, overseen by officials known as “rat wranglers” to ensure their humane treatment.

Source: Axios

In the words of Robin Nuttall, the founder of Barn Hunt and head of the Barn Hunt Association,

“Barn Hunt was created to assess breed instinct. At its core, it’s a test of the working instinct of breeds bred to eliminate rats.”

Nuttall also mentions that the rats involved are raised by show rat enthusiasts who have deemed Barn Hunt safe and humane. These rats are carefully selected for their friendly and outgoing personalities to ensure a positive experience for all involved.

Progress report

Established 11 years ago, Barn Hunt gained recognition from the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 2013 and now boasts a network of tournaments and championships.

The sport is thriving with 250 Barn Hunt clubs in the U.S. and Canada and 65,000 registered dogs.

Recent developments: The rising popularity of the sport led Jenny Carragher, a former private equity executive, to open Sniff ‘n’ Seek, New York City’s first Barn Hunt facility, last month in the Upper East Side.

Carragher was inspired to provide this opportunity after witnessing the positive impact on her own dog, Felix, an Italian Greyhound.

Source: Axios

Carragher’s pet rats, Peaches and Trixie, actively engage with the visiting dogs, showcasing a safe and enjoyable environment for all participants.

At a recent introductory class, dog owners like Nic Celenza and Henry Kaye brought their energetic pups to experience the thrill of Barn Hunt, providing mental stimulation and an outlet for their natural instincts.

Behind the scenes

Barn Hunt draws on the historical role of certain dog breeds, particularly terriers, as rat catchers. While some breeds were specifically bred for this purpose, all dogs are welcome to participate in Barn Hunt if they fit into an 18-inch hay tunnel.

Controversy and assurance

Groups like PETA have raised concerns regarding the ethics of using rats in Barn Hunt, but Nuttall and Carragher emphasize that animal welfare is paramount.

They assure that the rats involved seem to enjoy the activity and are well-cared for, living longer lives than their counterparts.

As one of the fastest-growing dog sports, Barn Hunt attracts dog enthusiasts across the U.S. and Canada, with over 7,000 dog registrations and 561 trials held last year alone.

Emma, who has a journalism education, enthusiastically writes articles for our dog blog. She combines her love for writing with her deep fondness for dogs to create engaging and informative content. Emma's work reflects her commitment to sharing heartwarming stories and valuable insights about our beloved canine companions.