I went to an introductory barn hunt workshop the other day with my 4-year-old mixed breed dog the other day, and I'm now considering taking her to a local Fun Test next weekend to try out Instinct and maybe practice Novice depending on how it goes.  I've never been to a dog show or dog sports competition of any kind, so I'm a total newbie to the whole thing.  I'm not so much worried about my dog (she's pretty familiar with chaos, new places, new dogs, etc.), but I'd like some tips on human behavior so I don't embarrass myself!

I've read the rules through, but what else should I keep in mind if I go to the Fun Test?  Is there any particular etiquette for dog trials/competitions that I need to follow?  (For example, is it okay to ask people questions about their dogs while we wait in the blind?  Or is that considered rude because people are focusing on getting their dogs ready?)  What do you wish you knew before your first time going to an event?

Any tips are welcome!  Thanks.
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Robin Nuttall Robin_N
First, Barn Hunt is a friendly place. We're glad to have you and your dog. 

You can absolutely ask people questions, and be sure to let people know this is your first dog show ever, and they will be happy to help.

A few tips:

  • Have a comfortable place for your dog to relax away from the rings. Is your dog crate trained? If so, a crate is perfect. If not, that is something you should start working on. Having to hold on to the dog at all times will be exhausting for both of you.
  • Be sure to watch your dog and keep her out of the space of other dogs. It's just an alertness thing. Short leash when around other dogs. Even if she's super friendly, other dogs might have space issues.
  • Don't forget to take off both collar and leash in the ring, but make sure the gate is latched first. 
  • Think of the judge as a nice school teacher; listen and be respectful. But your judge will be rooting for you to do well!
  • Pay attention to the rules about removing the rat safely and when you can and can't touch your dog.
Overall go, and have fun. Since it's a Fun Test, even if you make a mistake it's not a big deal at all, it's a learning experience. 

Welcome to Barn Hunt!

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Elizabeth Staley BHAJ-202A
Barn Hunt folks are usually super nice. Most will be chatty in the blind but if you notice someone who looks very focused on their dog I try to let them be.

Stay and help after you run 🙂 you’ll learn a bunch watching and listening ringside! Both what to do and what maybe not to do 😉 Help build courses if you’re able so you can see the designs and you’ll get to plan for course elements you may want to train later!

Most of all remember fun tests are FUN - they give you feedback on your training and your handling and sometimes your dog but she sounds like she will be fine!

depending on crating I bring fans, water, blankets etc and non-crumbly treats 🙂

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Susan Cohen SusanCohen
What a great question, Charlotte! I give participants at our Intro's a handout, "Competition Dog Sports Etiquette" by Denise Fensi. You can find it here:
To answer your question, the one thing I wish I'd known before I started was the importance of volunteering. It is the best way to learn plus it breaks the ice with meeting new people. Don't wait to be asked. Instead, step up and ask if there is a Volunteer Coordinator or is any help is needed. 
I admire anyone who steps out of their comfort zone to participate in a dog sport for the benefit of their dog. Just remember that most people have the same feelings of apprehension as you do. Add some etiquette and you'll be fine.

Sue Cohen
NOLA Barn Hunt Friends
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Remember to leave your smart watch and cell phone off your body when you go to the blind. Either is an automatic disqualification. Have fun!
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Matthew Davis MatthewDavis
Your Dog is going to have FUN! being on time to your blind is very high on the list of etiquitte, it keeps things going smoothly for every one.Check in with the blind marshale early so you have a good idea when you need to be in the blind, And have fun!
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Kris Woodke KrisWoodke
If you volunteer to be an inside rat wrangler (DO IT!!! -- it is fun), be aware that it is for the  duration of that blind.  So if you are supposed to be in the next blind, you probably don't want to volunteer to be an inside rat wrangler for the blind ahead of you. 

Usually, when one blind is down to about 2 dogs (depending on the class), the blind steward will yell out something like "Blind 2, potty your dogs".  So if your dog needs to go out, then do that and when you come in, let the blind steward know you are there and ready to load into your blind.
I have been at trials where at the general briefing, the trial chair or a judge will ask for those in Master to raise their hands so the newbies know who they are if they need help.  Barn Hunt people are very helpful, and many of those in Master have been doing this a while and are happy to answer any questions.

Have fun!
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