I love training and trialing in performance events of just about any kind. When you are working with a dog in something they were specifically bred for it's very exciting, and I always feel nostalgic and thankful to the breeders who came before me. While Smooth Fox Terriers were bred to bolt foxes from dens for the hounds on fox hunting days, terriers on a whole are bred for the dispatching of vermin. Barn Hunt and Earth Dog trials test natural instinct on terriers (Barn Hunt is actually open to all breeds) to find rats. Rat care is top of the list during training and trials and they are well used to the dogs. When not at these events the rats live as pets in peoples homes. The dogs never touch (or are able to hurt) the rats, these trials are strictly to show instinct and the ability to find the rats.
Were the dogs excited?? You bet!
Fiona (Am Ch Lil'itch Skylarke) gave me lots of excited kisses before we got down to business..
And although you can't see Bling's (Braebrook's Successorize) tail in this picture...I assure you it was vibrating.
Bling was the first to go and she tore right through the tunnel, over the bales of hay...
and found the rat!
Both girls started with an instinct run to see how they would do and then once completed they moved on to a novice run which is the first level in trialing.
No problem at all..
Next we worked on the instinct run and in order to pass in a trial the dog has to go through a tunnel, over a bale of hay and find the rat within the two minute time limit. They can do these things in whatever order they like.
Bling is easily distracted but also easily directed. I can see her little brain whirling (along with her tail...did you notice that every single picture of her shows a blurred tail??) and wondering what's going on and why everything smells so good. She listens fairly well to me though and I can guide her up and over bales to search.
Mmmmm....that rat smells good!
Fiona works a little slower and isn't sure why I would want her to jump over a bale when it's easier to go around. She's smart though and getting her over bales will be easy to train.
She found the rat within her time limit..
And we did a little extra ball work which she thought was most excellent. So much more exciting when you can see them.
I hugely encourage everyone to get involved in performance events, the dogs love them and I think they are an important testing ground for breeding dogs. Plus, they are so much fun!
What are you involved in with your dog? What are you hoping to get involved with in the future? Please share in the comments section below.