Barn Hunt: Barn Hunt is the fastest growing dog sport in the country. It is based on the traditional role of dogs at farms, barns, and storage areas to eliminate vermin. Many terrier breeds were created for this purpose and Barn Hunt provides a safe environment to test these working dog traits. Safe and secure PVC tubes with scent holes are used in this game and pet rats happily load into them to work. No rats are harmed during this activity. Mazes and tunnels are constructed out of straw bales and handlers call alerts as their dogs navigate the course and locate the tubes that hold the rats. This sport has various titling levels recognised by AKC, CKC, and UKC and is open to dogs and handlers of all ages and abilities. It is a great sport for older dogs and handlers. Deaf and three-legged dogs are allowed to compete and there are allowances made for persons with disabilities as well.
Bull Terriers & Barn Hunt: Bull Terriers love this sport and usually excel in tunneling and climbing on straw bales piled at any height. They have very good noses and locate tubes quickly. The challenges are restraining your dog securely so the tube can be removed from the ring. Since dogs run one at a time in a small securely fenced area, this sport provides a control for our active breed.
They will need to have some basic social skills while awaiting their turn in the staging area.
Where to find instructors: Most states have active Barn Hunt clubs that hold trials throughout the year. Look for Barn Hunt on Facebook and through the national organization web site at www.barnhunt.com.
How to get started: Go to www.barnhunt.com to find a club in your area. Many clubs hold Introduction to Barn Hunt and Rat Instinct clinics that help you get started. Fees to participate are nominal and usually do not involve a multi-week commitment. Warning: You will quickly become a Barn Hunt addict!
National organization: Barn Hunt Association, LLC charges $30.00 for lifetime registration. The web site has rules, breed statistics, club and trial locations, and other resources, such as your dog’s achievements and titles.
Equipment: All dogs must enter and leave the ring on a leash, collar, or harness. Dogs run naked during official trials or tests (no collar or harness) so a dog restraint that is easily removed and replaced works best. You may use buckle, martingale, or chain collars. Prong collars and flexi leads are allowed on trial grounds but you cannot bring your dog to the ring on this type of collar. The following are NOT allowed: head collars/Haltis (not that I have ever seen a bully wear one successfully) and electronic remote training collars.
Time: After one introductory clinic you will be well on your way to finding a fun test or trial to enter.
Bull Terrier activity expert: Sharon Keillor , a licensed Barn Hunt judge and active exhibitor will be happy to answer questions and help you find a club in your area. 810-659-8400 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Farm Dog Certified (FDC): The FDC is intended to demonstrate good behavior in rural areas where there may be livestock because many dogs live in such settings. This test is similar to Canine Good Citizen with some interesting twists. Your Bull Terrier will work through a series of 12 exercises that represent situations in a farm or rural environment. FDC is an excellent test of trainability, self control in unusual circumstances, confidence, and trust in owner throughout the test. Any dog older than 9 months may participate. The test is a pass-fail evaluation with 2 judges and can often be completed on the same day.
Bull Terriers & Farm Dog: Most Bull Terriers live in suburban areas or cities. Many may never have seen a goat, duck, or cow. So the FDC test can definitely pose some unique challenges. The average Bully will ace at least half of the 12 exercises with no problems. These are greeting the judge calmly, walking through a gate, walking over unusual surfaces, climbing onto a bale of hay, being exposed to farm equipment and feed bags, and responding to typical farm noises such as tractors and clanging buckets or gates. Walking on a loose lead is required, but you may direct your dog verbally and use obedience commands such as heel, sit, and wait. The challenges for Bullies in Farm Dog will probably be the livestock. Your dog will not go into a pen with farm animals, but they will be required to walk by about 15 feet away. Your dog will be restrained while you complete the mock livestock feeding exercise and needs to remain calm. You must also be able to distract your dog from the livestock area without pulling on the leash.
Where to find instructors: Farm Dog is very new in most areas so finding a class may be difficult. Often this test is held in conjunction with Barn Hunt or other outdoor type activities.
How to get started: Start by training for the CGC test and adding in some challenges such as calmly walking by a toy, treat, or cat. You can practice loose-lead walking and calling your dog away from a distraction. Use lots of positive rewards to set your dog up for success. If you can find a country road that has some pastures along side with livestock, that would be perfect. You can search the AKC website for Farm Dog tests in your area to get started. There are videos on YouTube depicting Farm Dog exercises, including one from AKC.
The Test guide can be found here.
National organization: American Kennel Club
Equipment: Leash of 4-6 feet, well-fitting buckle collar. Martingale collars acceptable.
Time: Training for the FDC test will require some time and patience, but Bull Terriers can achieve this title. You will gain lots of insight into how your Bully addresses the challenges and this will make them a better companion. I strongly suggest completing a CGC & CGCA before attempting Farm Dog.
Bull Terrier activity expert: Sharon Keillor will be happy to answer questions. 810-659-8400 or email@example.com