I started "Barn Hunt" early last last year. I learned about it from my dog trainer. She helped me train all my dogs and got me involved with other stuff like agility, lure coursing and nose work. My dog LOVES Barn Hunt (Poppy, the lab/cur). The national organization had about 3K members then and we now have 10K. It's a fun growing sport that doesn't fuck up your dog in any way. All sizes, ages and breeds are capable. Small breeds that were bred to hunt rats obviously excel.
Basically you work an enclosed area of stray bales in various set ups. There are 3-15 tubes depending on your level. Some tubes have nothing in them, some of dirty rat litter and some have rats. The tubes are hidden. You have a short amount of time to find the rat tube(s), call it when your dog indicates it's a rat (that alone is challenging) and do a couple course requirements like tunnel and climb. Here is some background on it with my friend Susan and her dog Moonpie: http://www.nolabarnhuntfriends.com/new-game-in-town/4586097966
My classes in nosework made us competitive because I learned how to handle a scent dog (amateur style-I'm not saying I am like those who do that for a living). Agility people say the agility training helps a little with commands but the courses and goals are so different it doesn't give them an advantage.
Anybody else doing it or want to get involved?
US page: http://www.barnhunt.com/
youtube has a lot of videos
Poppy earned his Instinct and Novice title. The "instinct" title is a great way to get started but is not recognized by AKC whereas the other titles are recognized by AKC. I think. The "instinct title" is three tubes placed out in the open. One has a rat in it, one has little and one is empty. The dog has to indicate which has a rat in it.
The rats are loved and protected. They have great lives and love getting in the tubes and being rewarded with banana chips. There are designated rat wranglers (I am one of them) that constantly monitor the rats health and stress levels. They belong to members of the clubs and are pets. The cool side effect from all this is we are able offer homes to all the rats that end up at shelters or on craigslist.
Here are a couple pics from Barn Hunt Association:
Here are pictures from my club. These are great group of people and dogs: http://www.nolabarnhuntfriends.com/photos-108-9-trial/4587301513