Dogfest offers learning opportunities

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Jul 23, 2014 in Rat Answers | Subscribe

Could your dog find a rat?

How does your dog react to a stranger?

Does your child know the right way to approach a dog?

These are all questions that could be answered at the Sixth Annual Dogfest on Aug. 2 at Christensen Field in Fremont. The Platte Valley Kennel Club of Fremont is hosting the event, scheduled from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the air conditioned exhibition hall.

The Barn Hunt Fun Day during which pet owners and handlers can see if their canines could locate a rodent will take place outdoors in the shade.

As in past years, the event includes confirmation and obedience matches with judging expected to start at about 12:30 p.m. Admission is free. Concessions will be sold.

Various “Meet the Breed” booths will be set up, said Sandy Orr, club president. Breeds include borzois, collies, Shetland sheepdogs, Papillons and poodles.

Sponsored by the Nebraska Kennel Club, the Barn Hunt is designed to determine if a dog has the instinct to find a rodent.

Rats involved in the hunt will be cared for, said Nebraska Kennel Club Treasurer Barbara Hill of Omaha.

“The rats get as much care and consideration as any dog,” she noted. “We protect the rats. We make sure they’re comfortable, not too hot and fed and have water. No dog actually touches the rat.”

Hill said the hunt involves an enclosure with a small maze and straw bales. Three plastic tubes are used. One tube is empty, one has bedding that a rat has used and the last contains a rat. The tubes are placed in the enclosure.

“There will be a little training, because most pet dogs have never seen a rodent in their lives,” Hill said.

With the handler holding the leash, the dog will be introduced to the rodent, which will be in a cage.

The dog is brought into the enclosure and released to find the rat in the tube.

Handlers can verbally encourage the dog, but can’t point or give it any verbal clues.

“The dog has to find it on his natural instinct and his sense of smell,” said

Dogs will need to be on a leash. Owners should bring water for their dogs. There will be a signup sheet and participants will be charged a small fee. After that, they’ll be directed to the training and assigned a number.

Hill previously has seen the event in Kansas.

“It’s kind of fun to watch your dog do what they naturally do,” she said.

Club members will be available.

“There will be at least four of us there who will answer questions and make sure everybody has a good time,” Hill said.

Hill noted that not every dog is interested in this activity.

Area residents and their pooches can participate in other events, however.

A Canine Good Citizen event will be available, Orr said. With this event, a dog undergoes a 20-minute test. Dogs are graded on how they react to various situations such as how they react when approached by a friendly and a menacing stranger. Dogs that pass the test can receive Canine Good Citizen certification. Owners wanting to use their dogs for therapy work are encouraged to get this certification.

Even those who don’t have such plans, however, can learn what skills they might need to work on with their dogs. There is a $10 per dog fee. Participants are asked to sign up earlier in the day for that event, which is expected to start at about 11 a.m.

A Children’s Education Class also is available. This event, which is free to the public, is designed to teach children how to approach a dog correctly.

Responsible dog owner information will be available. There also will be tables with used dog equipment for sale.

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