Monday, August 01, 2016

Barn Hunt!

SUMMARY: Guess who had a good time?

Two nights ago, as I read through email and whatnot in my Couch Office, the dogs came and hung out and went and came again as is their wont. At some point I glanced over at Zorro scratching himself on the couch to my left and discovered that he had brought a gift for me and left it about 8 inches away from my arm: An adult, thankfully deceased although still warm, roof rat.

I told him that he was a very good dog, hurried into the kitchen, gave him some treats to distract him while I swooped back through the living room to scoop up the gift and store it safely in the trashcan out back.

Tonight when I got home from work, the male teenage Renter came out to say, "Just so you know, when I got home, Zorro was chewing on a squirrel." I rolled my eyes and started to say, OK, but he continued, "I got that away from him and threw it out, BUT... I don't know where its head is."

I don't know where, either, but all of that is ample confirmation that Barn Hunt just might be Zorro's sport.

A friend arranged for me to join her for training, starting about 2 months ago, but with one thing and another, tonight was our first night. Hard to find places to practice locally. Closest is up in Fremont, about 35 minutes away if freeway traffic is good--which, amazingly, it was! So I arrived about half an hour early, walked the dogs around for about 15 minutes, put Chip back into the car.

Clearly this is not our usual neighborhood. Had to herd the cluckers away from Mutt Mvr so I could extricate the boys.

 The friend who hooked me up with this night & trainer and I chatted and caught up a little bit on the years since I've seen her in agility, then we watcher her work with her dog for about 15 minutes.

In Barn Hunt, basically they built a multilevel maze with tunnels and hidey-holes. Then they hide sturdy containers with a pet rat in each (Zorro is sniffing an empty one below) and the dog finds them.


Well--there's training involved.

A container containing a rat, when introduced to Zorro, intrigued him quite a bit until he concluded that he wasn't going to be able to actually get it out.  That initial high level of interest was a great start, though.  So, that was about 10 minutes, then we got a 15 minute break.

Then we moved into the hay bales area and worked on getting him to take an interest in the container again--pulling it along the ground; holding him back while the instructor hid the container around a corner and under a bit of hay; like that.  Worked fairly well as far as my complete lack of experience could tell.  Then did a bit of shaping to get him to tap the container with his paw.  I think it took about 3 minutes, max, until he was doing it authoritatively.  All of that was about 15 minutes, then we got another 15 minute break.

Then we took probably less than a minute to confirm that he got the idea about the paw tap--yep, he sure did. He is soooo good at figuring things out and is suuuuch a fast learner. And we were done.

But the way the timing worked, poor Mr. Chip was in the car alone for maybe an hour and a half.

We stopped at a nearby AM/PM minimart/Arco gas station to fill upon gas, and I got Chip out for about 5 minutes to give him a chance to sniff around.  A friendly young man stopped to pet him and chat a bit, which Chip enjoyed, too.

Came home, gave the dogs dinner (Zorro almost nothing since he got so many treats), and Zorro crashed.  Now that's something I can get into, as he almost never does!  What a mental workout for him, not just the barnhunt learning, but being in a new place and new dogs all around and hanging out--all things that we don't do much of.



How come Zorro is get Human Mom for zillion hours but me is get 5 minutes,
him is get hundred bags treats but me is get a couple piece,
also he is get now whole side of couch that is belong to me? Not so fair is think me.

Next session is in 2 weeks.  We'll see how this all goes.

4 comments:

  1. Sounds like you guys had some fun and Zorro may have found his bliss, but I hope Chip gets some special time soon too :) He looks so despondent.

    And this made me laugh: "I got that away from him and threw it out, BUT... I don't know where its head is."

    Hopefully the squirrel head is not tucked away somewhere and waiting to roll out at an inopportune moment.

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    1. Rest assured that I *did* pull back my sheets and check before getting into bed last night. Because, you know, I've seen The Godfather!

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  2. I have a friend that does barn hunt with her dog. Tyson LOVES it. We were all in obedience and rally together and Tyson was pretty bored. In fact at a trial he casually walked out of the rally ring during his run. He'd do obedience but was sincerely not into it. Then she found barn hunt. Tyson is a star! He can't WAIT to get into the ring. I think it's so important to find the right match between a dog and a sport. I hope you guys have a great time together! And maybe Chip will find his sport too. I've found out there's a whole lot of stuff out there outside the traditional obedience, agility and rally!

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    1. How funny to hear agility and rally included in "traditional" dog sports! :-) This gives me a topic for my next blog post! Thanks. Heh.

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