Working With Your Dog

Where's the rat?  Where's the rat??

"You care for nothing but shooting, dogs and rat-catching and you will be a disgrace to yourself and your family."

- Charles Darwin's father, to his young son.


Rats generally live and feed within a circle of few hundred yards of wherever it is you see them. They know this territory like the back of their hand, are faster than lightning, are as viscous as a snake, and almost as dangerous.

In practical terms than means your dog doesn't have much of a chance to achieve a high kill ratio unless you help out a little.

Here are a few things you can do to increase your chance of a successful hunt.

Rats can become quickly (if only temporarily) disoriented by making mild alterations to the hunt site. Move a board or two, place a cardboard box in a new location, set a coke bottle up on end, and scuff your heel in a sharp line or two in the dirt to make a little furrow or trench. All of this serves two key purposes: breaking up the invisible but very important scent trails that rats follow and use to"triangulate" their position (like we would use a road or a cross street), and by altering their visual cues.


Rats are escape artists and their first reaction when they see light, man or dog is to flee down a burrow . . . or into a hole in a wall . . . down pipe or drain, or into a box or dumpster.

The surest way to increase your dogs "kill ratio" is to make sure these escape holes are blocked so that when the rat hits the hole, there is nowhere to go. A disoriented rat hitting a blocked hole will be confused and disoriented for a few seconds -- all the time your dog should need to finish the job.

Rat holes do not need to be blocked with anything more substantive than a bit of wadded up newspaper or paper grocery bag. The goal, after all is not to permanently block the hole (rats can eat through or dig around anything), but to simply block it for a few minutes while the dog works.

Working two or more dogs at a rat-riddled site will geometrically increase your odds of a successful hunt. The reason: the rats will become far more confused and disoriented with two large predators in their midst than one, and rats fleeing the movements of one dog will naturally run into the jaws of another.




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