The Happy Ratter’s Philosophy – the goal is for the dog and owner to have a fun, positive and successful experience while enhancing the bond between dog and owner, and placing a high priority on safety!
Fun, trusting environment for dogs and their handlers to hunt vermin (rats in tubes) in “urban” settings.
For competition, a titling program allows all dogs to compete toward different level titles, and Happy Ratters encourages camaraderie and support between competitors.
The obstacles and items encounter in competition include trash bags, boxes and barrels and other items possibly found in a city alley (i.e., “urban” setting"), the big difference being this is clean trash, new bags with shredded paper, clean boxes, etc.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q:Do the rats get hurt?
A: No, of course not. The rats are in tubes deigned to let the rats breath and be comfortable, while providing protection from any overeager dogs. Each rat is only to spend an hour at a time in a tube, so rat handlers (i.e., instructors, judges, etc.) have multiple rats at competition and at training classes to ensure no rat is kept in a tube longer than one hour.
Q:Are the rats in distress or scared while the dogs are hunting them in the tube?
A:No, The rats are raised for this purpose and have had plenty of expose to other dogs in this exact situation. The rats don't mind being in the tubes and are even used to the movement of the tube as the dogs move it or touch it.
Q:Are the rats clean, disease free?
A:In all cases, these rats are not pulled from the streets and put into cages. These rats are typically bred for this type of activity, and cared for just like any other pet by the owner (i.e., the instructor or judge). They are clean and well cared; there is no risk that your dog will get some type of disease as these are not "wild" rats off the street.
Q:Does my dog need advanced obedience for this type of training?
A:No, the dog is off-leash, but as you can see in the video, the search area is very small and gated. It's helpful to have obedience but the focus of this game is searching for a rat among the debris; there is very little obedience required for this type of competition as the dog roams free and most dogs will pick it up very quickly. Your dog has a natural instance to hunt vermin.
Q:I see a lot of trash in the search area like plastic bags, boxes, etc. Do you use trash?
A:No, the boxes and trash bags are all clean and unused.
Q:Is this like Barn Hunt?
A:Yes, the concept is the same, except, instead of finding the rat in a bail of hay (country setting), the dog will find the rat among boxes, trashcans, plastic bags, etc (City Setting) and the rules and obstacles are a little different. Dogs with a Barn Hunt Association Open title or higher, may enter at the Expert level if they prefer (See Table Below).
Q:How does my dog earn titles in Happy Ratters?
A:You can earn titles by earning points in competition. 100 points are available each run. finding a rat is worth 60 points. You can also earn points i if your dog does obstacles like the burrow and bridge (Both 20 points in lower levels).
Happy Ratter: Title Summary Table for Levels and Games