March 30, 2022

The idea of bed bug dog training may seem unusual. Most people know the police use canine teams to locate explosives, drugs, or missing humans. Trained dogs also take part in military action, like World War II’s scout and guard dogs. But bed bugs?

With proper training, dogs can identify bedbugs, point out the hiding spots of bed bug infestation, and even detect between live bed bugs and dead bed bugs or egg casings. The ability to detect bedbugs quickly can be critical in public locations like hotels, dormitories, and office buildings.

What Is Bed Bug Dog Training?

Bed bug training teaches dogs to identify bed bugs and tell the difference between bed bugs and other insects. Thanks to their keen sense of smell, canines can use scent detection to locate bed bugs by blood traces or pheromones.

Dogs trained in finding bed bugs have several advantages over human pest control technicians. Here are just a few:

  • A human technician needs to inspect an entire room inch by inch to search for live bedbugs and eggs. This is a time-consuming process that may require several inspections. Dogs will immediately sniff out bugs, which helps prevent infestations from getting out of control. A dog can cover large areas such as cubicles in a fraction of the time it takes a human.
  • A pest control tech will have trouble locating the infestation source or telling the difference between viable and nonviable eggs. The standard pest control industry approach is treating the entire building with toxic pesticides. Meanwhile, a dog can use bed bug scents to track down the critters’ source and enable efficient treatment.
  • Because scent detection dogs work quickly and effectively, the canine inspection cost is often lower than a standard pest control check. Such an inspection can also rule out bedbugs and save on needless extermination.

Where Do Bed Bugs Live?

Unlike their name would indicate, bed bugs live not only in bedding and under mattress box springs. They can also hide behind baseboards, upholstery, and electrical outlets. They can infest couches, office chairs, office cubicles, and even picture frames.

Bed bugs feed on blood. Cimex lectularius, the common bed bug, prefers human blood but may also feed on dogs, cats, rodents, and birds.

Bedbugs have plagued humankind for thousands of years. (They are even mentioned in the Bible) Since the 1940s, with the widespread use of DDT, bedbugs have become rare.

However, the start of the 21st century saw new strains of insecticide-resistant bedbugs. As air travel became common, these resistant strains spread across the U.S. and soon became a significant problem.

boston terrier bed bug dog

What Breeds Can Serve as Bed Bug Detection Dogs?

Dogs of almost any breed can serve as bug detectors, but hunter and shepherd-type dogs do incredibly well in training. Terriers, Beagles, Labradors, Aussies, and German Shepherds make successful bed bug detection dogs. These breeds are highly sociable, obedient, energetic, and motivated to work.

Jack Russell Terriers are also good at locating bedbugs. This smaller breed can reach tight nooks more quickly than larger dogs, and it’s easy to lift Jack Russell Terriers to help them sniff out higher areas – a feat that would be near-impossible with a Labrador Retriever.

The Training Process of Bed Bug Dogs

Typically, dogs start training for bed bug sniffing at 8 months to a year. For commercial certification, a bedbug dog requires a dedicated training facility and qualified trainers, with 600+ hours of training involved. Often, training facilities set up mock hotel rooms for a realistic simulation.

One major challenge of bed bug detection training is the necessity of using live bugs. The facility needs to supply blood meals through an artificial feeder to keep bedbugs alive.

Collecting bugs from an infestation site is possible, but purchasing bed bugs from a commercial provider is easier and more convenient.

By placing towels in a container with the jar of bed bugs, the towels absorb the scent and can be hidden to continue trying the canines. The ongoing training is a daily occurrence and utilized to feed the canine. In other words, the canine must find the bed bug scent to eat.

The following methods serve to teach a dog scent discrimination.

Association with Food Method

  1. Teach a dog to find food concealed under a container.
  2. Place a container of live bed bugs next to the concealed food.
  3. Reward the dog for locating the food + bedbug container.
  4. Remove food and reward the dog for spotting bedbugs alone.

Search and Find Method

  1. Provide canisters with powerful scents, like food or peanut butter, and give a reward when the dog alerts the trainer to the scent.
  2. Add a live bedbug scent and reward when the dog locates it.
  3. Add canisters with dead bugs or shed skins and reward the dog only for locating live bedbugs.

Matching Samples Method

  1. Set up several samples that contain live bedbugs.
  2. Let the dog sniff the live samples and reward for sniffing.
  3. Hide the samples and instruct the dog to search using the ‘seek’ signal.
  4. Give a reward for finding the live sample.

Do You Need an Inspection by a Bed Bug Detection Dog?

A bed bug infestation isn’t always easy to spot. Bedbugs are elusive, and a bedbug egg is about the size of a dust speck. You may have a bedbug issue if:

  • You wake up in the morning with annoying itchy welts on exposed skin areas
  • You notice bloodstains or bedbug excrement on your sheets, pillows, and mattress
  • You sense a characteristic unpleasant musty scent
  • You recently purchased used furniture or mattresses or stayed in a motel or hotel room

You may find it hard to tell between bed bugs, fleas, and other household pests if you notice tiny live insects. A bed bug sniffing dog will help confirm or rule out a bed bug invasion.

Discreet Bedbug Inspections: A Quick Solution to Your Bed Bug Problem

Do you suspect bed bugs have invaded your home, hotel, or office building? At Discreet Bedbug Inspections, we use expertly trained bed bug dogs to detect bed bugs all over New York City and the Tri-state area.

Contact us today at 917-337-3202. Let us show how expert bed bug dog training can provide fast and effective bed bug detection.

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