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Posts Tagged ‘barn hunt workshop’

My faithful photographer was off training Carlin this morning, so the photos I have are sans dog. But these photos are two views of the Open-level Barn Hunt course that Tooey and I practiced on today.

The hardest part of today’s course was, as always, the tunnel. For the Open level, the tunnel is 4 hay bale widths long, and in the middle, it takes a right-angle turn. So going in, the dog sees no light at the end of said tunnel. Plus, the tunnels are only 1 hay bale width high, shorter than Tooey is tall.

Tooey had two runs. In both, she found her two rats with no trouble, and didn’t hesitate to jump up on the bales to see if the rats were hidden up there.

This is good. At last practice, she searched the ground, but didn’t seem to think that there would be any elevated rats. This time, she remembered that rats could be up off the ground.

But taking the tunnel is still not a sure thing. On her first run, she squeezed herself through so nicely that I thought she’d gotten the concept. On the second run, though, she’d stick her head in the entrance, but didn’t proceed.

So, the woman playing judge planted a tube with a rat in it right at the end of the tunnel. And when Tooey was in half way, I hurried to the other end with liver treats to reward her with. Plus praise. Lots and lots of praise.

So I call this a great practice. She’s not ready to compete yet, but we’re getting there.

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A month or so ago, I found an event that I’d been hoping to see for a while. See, Tooey doesn’t love competition Obedience and she’s so-so about Rally, which are the sports I do with Cooper, so I’ve been looking for another sport to do with her.

She loves chasing critters, but not being an earth dog like Dachshunds and the various types of Terriers, she’s not eligible to compete in official AKC Earthdog events. I also thought about Lure Coursing, where a dog chases a plastic bag around a course. That sport is mainly for sight hounds, like Afghans and Greyhounds, but there is a Coursing Ability Test open to all breeds. However, almost every bird hunter I know has warned me against that sport, saying that I don’t want to teach Tooey it’s OK to chase game rather than flush it up.

So, what to do?

Then I came across a new-ish sport called Barn Hunt. It’s not an AKC sport, but the AKC does recognize titles awarded by the Barn Hunt Association. And it involves going after critters, namely rats.

Now, I am not fond of rats. At all. The mere thought of rats running around gives me the creeps. But these rats are safely enclosed in thick plastic rat tubes. The tubes provide the rats plenty of air, plenty of space, and safe from dog teeth and claws. And the tubes keep the people safe from the rats, too.

Here’s how the Barn Hunt Association describes it:

In Barn Hunt, dogs locate rats (safely enclosed in aerated tubes) hidden in a straw/hay bale maze [to introduce tunneling and climbing obstacles in the dog’s path]. It’s a timed event with 3 different dog height divisions.

So, when I found a Barn Hunt workshop (put on by Valley Dog Sports in Dayton, OR), I signed up for it almost immediately. But just before I actually signed up, I did a double-take at the date, and then asked Russ, “Honey, would you like to spend our anniversary at a Barn Hunt workshop?”

Lucky me, he said yes. So I signed us up, and this morning, we all piled into the car and headed south.

The first part of the practice was just going through a hay tunnel, jumping over a hay bale, and then finding a rat in a tube out in the open. Cooper was fast — he found the rat in 16 seconds. Tooey was a little slower, but she found her rat, too, but, disappointingly to me, didn’t act all that thrilled with the idea. But then we went over to another space where the rat tubes were hidden in the hay, and that having to hunt and find really fired Tooey up. She hunted and hunted in, around, and between the hay bales, and when she found the rat, dived into the hay nose first. If this had been a real competition, I’d have been able to call “Rat!” without any hesitation.

Tooey and I did that a couple of times, and each time, she got more excited. At the end of our turn, I had to drag her out of there by the leash.

I think I may have found a new sport for Tooey. We’ll give a try for real when my recently-operated-on knee heals up and we get back from this year’s Irish Water Spaniel Club of America National Specialty. (A velcro-like IWS show coat does not mix well with hay…)

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