Allegations of Rat Abuse in conjunction with the 2014 USDAA Cynosport Games

On October 15-17, the All Breed Lure Sport Association (ABSLA) held Barn Hunt training clinics in conjunction with the Cynosport games in Morgan Hill, CA. These clinics were then followed by licensed trials on October 18-19, judged by Laurits “Dix” Dixon and run by ABSLA.
The Barn Hunt Association LLC (BHA LLC) does not license or control training clinics, workshops, or seminars. The BHA LLC administers and controls licensed Fun Tests and Trials. On October 17, I began to hear disquieting stories about the way rats were treated at the training clinics. A significant number of witnesses felt the rats were treated during the training sessions in such a way that they could have been injured. This is an area of very great concern to me since proper and humane rat care is at the core of the sport of Barn Hunt.

Rats as a species are very intelligent, bold, and fearless. The BHA LLC has very strict rules about responsible rat care: how rats can be used, when they should be rested, and how the tubes must be handled. Full rules on our rat care provisions can be found at A huge majority of the rats used in Barn Hunt are family pets. They readily climb into their tubes and will interact with both people and dogs, seeming to enjoy this distraction in their day. A lot of our clubs acquire rats from rat rescue or save them from becoming snake food. Other clubs are donating to rat rescues. Overall Barn Hunt has been very positive for the welfare of domestic rats.
After a phone call to ABSLA I was not satisfied that rats were treated in accordance with Barn Hunt rules at [...]

By |October 24th, 2014|News|Comments Off|

Rules Revision Form Link now up

Rule Revision suggestions are taken through December 31. Read the specifics and find the link to the form here:

By |December 1st, 2013|News|Comments Off|

New Breed Stats

The list of titles by breed has been updated to include all trials through 9/22. Find them under BHA Events, Stats.

By |October 9th, 2013|News|Comments Off|

Rule Changes 9/30/13

Please review the rules, as I have made some important changes I felt could not wait until we do a scheduled rule revision at the end of the year. This update to the rules is specifically to address rat wrangler safety. Though there has been no incident which precipitated this change, it’s my belief that without the safeguards outlined it would just be a matter of time before there was a problem.

The rules have changes in the description of the rat wrangler position, some changes in the Allowed Praise and Reward section, and finally an entirely new section on safely removing the rat tube. They were discussed extensively on the judges list prior to implementation.

To help you all see how the rules have changed, the old text has strikethroughs, and the new text is in RED.

As for the scheduled rule revision, the tentative schedule for that is to open up the rules for comment on December 1 through 31. (probably with a specific commenting form). Suggestions will be reviewed with a committee in January, with the goal of having the new rules rolled out by March 1.

By |September 30th, 2013|News, Training|Comments Off|

September Competitor and Trial Notes

Some notes for competitors, based on information I’ve been hearing from around the country as well as our own trial.

First of all, trials are going fast and furious! Stats are updated through August, I haven’t yet started September processing. As far as I know, no Senior titles yet but we are oh, so close with several dogs around the country with two Senior legs. Who will be the first???

So let’s go over a few things.

First, the briefing. You will usually have a general briefing at the start of the day, then a class briefing at each class. Right now briefings aren’t very brief, because the sport is new. Judges and trial staff are there to help you and answer your questions. However, do please be aware that it is not the job of the judge or trial staff to tell you all of the rules on the day you enter. When you enter, it is your job to read and review the rules prior to getting to the show site (hopefully prior to entering at all!) You can get a lot of information if you read the judge guidelines as well. Please DO ask a question if you are confused about a particular rule, but don’t expect the judge or staff to read you the rulebook. There will, however, be at least one set of rules there at the site so you can review.

Once the briefing is over and it’s your turn in the ring, that’s not the time to ask questions about rules. BUT. If you are NQd and you feel it was not a correct NQ, please speak up right away (very politely!) and ask the judge why the NQ was made [...]

By |September 16th, 2013|News, Training|Comments Off|

How to become a Barn Hunt Club

One of the questions I encounter the most often in emails is how to become a Barn Hunt Club.

The first thing to understand is that I do not license clubs. You are not required to be an organized Club, with a Board of Directors, Constitution and bylaws, etc. to hold a Barn Hunt event. There are some fairly significant advantages to becoming an organized club; pooling of resources, less outlay of cost for individuals, and additional protection in case of a problem. But groups of individuals and commercial entities (i.e., dog training facilities) can also hold Barn Hunt events.

For the Barn Hunt Association, LLC, any group that gets together to hold a trial is called a “Club.” Clubs must understand and follow all rules of the BHA, LLC and hold trials in accordance to those rules. So the first thing a club wanting to hold trials should do is read all of the rules and regulations, the judge guidelines, and the secretary handbook. Those documents taken together give a good framework for the basics of what is expected of a club and at a trial.

Join the facebook page and the yahoogroup, and begin soliciting interest from people in your area. You can also search on the AKC website and in JRTCA groups for people in your area who may have rat and rat care experience.

The next thing to do is to get your club together and hold some training events, then at least one formal Fun Match. Fun Matches must be applied for, and must be held according to Barn Hunt rules though some laxity is allowed, for instance, rat familiarization can be done as part of a Fun Match. Fun Matches must also [...]

By |September 10th, 2013|News|Comments Off|

Training Note: Building Drive and Marking skills

I have an interesting issue with Zipper. He loves rats, he loves hunting rats. He is an able real-world hunter, and he adores Barn Hunt. But I am having trouble with his signaling. He will often very quickly find the rat on the course, but just as quickly leave it, without giving a strong indication (or any real indication at all) that he has found the rat. I will know he is in odor, but he will go up, briefly sniff, then leave. Or he will search an odor area but not get truly near a tube, then leave.

So today I worked him a little with tube indication, building drive. My goal is both a stronger mark and more “stickiness,” sticking with the tube once he has found the rat and working it rather than leaving it. This would also be a good exercise for a dog who is having trouble between litter and rat tubes.

What we did was work with two tubes in the open, one with rat and litter, one litter only. Zipper was on a harness and lead, so I could use restraint to build drive while not giving a neck/collar correction. I would never do this exercise on anything but a flat collar or harness, harness far preferred. I always knew where the rat was. My desired outcome was for him to drive hard to the tubes, quickly decide which was which, then reward him for correct choice by moving the rat tube around and getting him super excited about it, building duration of the mark. If he left the correct tube after choosing it, did not drive hard toward the tubes, or chose the incorrect tube, I simply [...]

By |August 18th, 2013|Training|Comments Off|

Listing titles correctly

Just a short note on how to properly list titles on your dogs. Barn Hunt will use the same protocol for titling as most other organizations, in which a higher title supercedes a lower title, because you must have the lower title in order to advance, therefore it is implied by the listing of the upper title. Most titles go behind the dog’s name.

The following go behind the dog’s name:

RATI (Instinct), as a separate, optional title is always listed.

RATN (Novice) is the base title

RATO (Open) supercedes and replaces the RATN title

RATS (Senior) supercedes and replaces the RATO title

RATM (Master) supercedes and replaces the RATS title

The Barn Hunt Championship title (RATCH) goes in FRONT of the dog’s name, and all previous titles other than RATI drop off from behind name.

So when “My Great Dog” gets a RATI and up to RATS, the listing would be:

My Great Dog, RATI RATS

When “My Great Dog” gets a RATCH the listing would be:
RATCH My Great Dog, RATI

If My Great Dog decided to enter Novice right away and not do a RATI, then went on to an Open title, the listing would be

My Great Dog, RATO

I think you get the idea. This is how your titles will be listed in the database and the proper way to list titles for advertising, etc.

By |July 6th, 2013|News|Comments Off|


As I work through the backlog in trial results, I am finding more than
a few dogs who were entered with incorrect Barn Hunt numbers;
especially from owners with multiple dogs. In some cases this is a
trial secretary issue, in some cases the owner used the wrong number
to enter the dog. In all cases, I have to stop processing, research
the information, and contact the trial secretary and owner. The entire
set of trial results has to be kicked back to the secretary for
review, which means a delay for everyone entered in that trial to get
their certificates.

As of January 1, 2014, entering a dog with an incorrect Barn Hunt
number will not be considered a valid entry. Any legs earned will not
count. If it is a secretary mistake, the owner will not be penalized.

Enter CAREFULLY. Check your number. Make sure you have the right
number assigned to the right dog. Double check. Make sure all is
spelled correctly. Trial Chairs should be sending you confirmations.
Check your confirmation to make sure the number is correct and
assigned correctly to your dog.

I do not want to have to withdraw earned legs, but unfortunately I
also cannot keep bringing everything to a halt while I research
incorrect number issues, nor is it fair to trial secretaries to keep
having to deal with this information. It’s a very easy fix; always,
always make sure you are using the correct number with the correct dog
when you enter. Thanks so much.

By |July 3rd, 2013|News|Comments Off|

Our 1000th Dog plus other updates

I just registered dog number BH-01000. Hard to believe that less than 5 months after I opened registration we already have 1000 dogs, and more and more fun tests and trials all the time. I have four new trials to list tonight as well. I’m still working on processing the June shows, but am making progress; the Golden CO show results are in the database, now I just need to get to the certificates (a bit laborious, but fun).

Also, please note that especially this summer as I push hard for Zipper’s MACH, give judge workshops, etc., I am out of town on a lot of weekends (including this one). I urge you to allow at LEAST two business days for all event and registration business to be addressed.

For prospective judges, I am slowing down a bit on approving new judges as I take stock of where we are. I also want to process my outstanding trials first. So priority is keeping up with registrations, processing trials, then dealing with judge business. I do appreciate everyone’s patience.

By |June 27th, 2013|News|Comments Off|