CENTREVILLE — On a beautiful autumn weekend, Oct. 28–30, about 75 dogs and their handlers gathered at Spring Cove Farm in Centreville for three days of Barn Hunt, one of the fastest growing dog sports. The event, sponsored by Talbot Kennel Club (TKC), included Parson Russell Terrier Eowyn, a Master Level competitor, who burrowed through piles of hay bales to find her prey. She found all the rats there were to find.
While there are several formats and ability levels, the basic aim of Barn Hunt is for the dog to find rats (housed in heavy plastic tubing so even the most enthusiastic dog cannot reach them) which have been hidden among large piles of hay bales. To make it even more difficult for the dog, there are also tubes containing rat bedding but no rat, as well as empty tubes, hidden amongst the hay bales.
Neither the handler nor the dog know where and, in some instances, how many rats are hidden in the trial area. They act as a team as the handler encourages the dog to search in possible locations and then reads the dog’s “tell” once it has found a rat. Eowyn’s tell is a low grumble and pawing at the hay bale.
Dogs of all breeds and sizes participate in Barn Hunt at five levels ranging from “Instinct” (easiest) to “Master” (most challenging). All that is required to compete is a dog with good prey drive and a working nose and a handler who is adept at reading their dog.
TKC offers basic “house dog” and puppy classes as well as more specialized training: Agility, Barn Hunt, Conformation, Competition Obedience, Rally and Scentwork. For more information, go to: https://www.talbotkennelclub.org.
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