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Bed Bug Dogs: How Does it Work?

By Thorn Team • Aug 9th 2022

When a customer has a bed bug problem, they want it dealt with as soon as possible. Bed bug dogs are one of the best ways to make this happen.

Pest control companies need to be able to find and eliminate bed bugs fast due to their quick spread. Not only does quick detection help resolve the bed bug issue faster, but it keeps costs low. The longer an inspection takes, the more it's going to cost.

Thorn is a company that cares about safe, effective, and efficient pest control methods. It's a big bonus if those methods involve limited chemical and help keep costs low for our Utah customers! We've solved hundreds of bed bug issues. Trust us when we say that without bed bug canines and their impressive noses, long-term bed bug control would be difficult to maintain while keeping costs down.

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Specially Trained Bed Bug Dogs

The same way law enforcement uses dogs to sniff out dangerous substances and explosives, pest professionals use specially trained dogs to sniff out bed bugs.

When a specially trained dog sniffs out bed bugs, they will alert their handler by pointing, sitting or scratching. These dogs can be incredibly accurate, with some studies showing up to 97.5% accuracy.

A good bed bug dog also requires a good dog handler. This handler will know their dog's temperament well. If there are factors at play that could have a negative impact on the dog's accuracy, the handler should say something, and will keep up with the dog to ensure the dog is doing good work.

Dogs are especially useful when it comes to large sweeps in big spaces. Where a single technician would completely exhaust themselves visually inspecting hundreds of rooms, a dog and handler can complete these inspections very quickly, giving bigger locations like hospitals, hotels and apartments a viable and reasonably priced bed bug detector.

Canine Bed Bug Inspection

Red welts on the skin are often one of the first noticeable signs of a bed bug issue, but it's not enough to confirm a bed bug issue once and for all. Skin bumps, welts and irritation can be caused by many things, from a change in detergent, to pests such as:

When a trained bed bug pro performs a visual bed bug inspection, they are investigating and relying on what they can see with their eyes alone. While there are tell-tale bed bug signs to look for, bed bugs are incredibly good at hiding. This can make spotting them difficult, and thoroughly searching everything from top to bottom is incredibly time consuming.

The answer? Canine bed bug inspection.

A seasoned bed bug dog and handler can be incredibly effective at locating bed bugs, even when the population levels are low. These dogs are specially trained and capable of sniffing out hard to reach places the professional cannot get to. Some of these locations might be:

  • Behind baseboards
  • Wall voids
  • Inside outlets
  • Infested furniture

Bed Bug Dogs Are Working Dogs

Dogs are pack animals with a natural drive to work. While many dogs are trained and bred out of these behaviors, bed bug dogs are working dogs, meaning they thrive when they have a task to complete. If you've handled working dogs before, you know they aren't fed until the work is completed. Some may think this is cruel, but it's quite the opposite; it gives the dog purpose and fulfillment. It helps the dog live its best life!

By using food as a reward for bed bug detection, bed bug dogs are programmed from the beginning to find purpose in alerting to the presence of bed bugs, making them an incredibly helpful addition to any bed bug team.

Are Bed Bug Dogs Accurate?

While some studies show bed bug detection dogs as being up to 97.5% accurate, using multiple detection methods is still the best way to confirm bed bugs are around.

Companies get themselves into trouble when they rely on only one detection method. Having a bed bug dog on the team provides another level of confidence in the detection process and helps determine the high priority harborage areas, but no control method is perfect.

First, some dog and handler teams are better than others, and sometimes even the best have an off day. Some factors that can influence bed bug dog efficacy are:

  • Time of day
  • Food mess on the floor
  • Sick or tired dog
  • Distractions

Dogs are incredibly sensitive to their humans. If the handler is on edge or tense, the dog will pick up on this. As you can tell, a good bed bug dog requires a good handler.

Bed Bug Dog False Positive

Dogs are not always perfect, and even though bed bug dogs can make some incredible finds, it is always best to have multiple detection methods in place. This is where visual inspection comes into play.

When a seasoned bed bug pro has a dog alert to the presence of bed bugs, the dog is removed and the professional conducts a thorough visual inspection of the area the dog pointed' to. Visual confirmation is very important for final diagnosis and treatment of bed bugs, but the dog helps to narrow down specific areas of concern.

In the event that a dog alerts but nothing is found, monitors should be put in place, and someone should check back on the space in 1-2 weeks. Just because nothing is seen visually doesn't mean there aren't bed bugs hiding deep in the various cracks and crevices around the home, but it's important to be sure before carrying on with expensive treatments.

What Dogs Are Used for Bed Bugs?

Here at Thorn, we have a history of working with beagles and beagle mixes, though other hounds and breeds such as Labradors and German shepherds have also made successful bed bug dogs.

After working with bed bug dogs for over 10 years, we are confident that bed bug dogs hold an important place on any effective bed bug team. With their ability to sweep large spaces quickly, they help keep bed bug control costs down while ensuring bed bug inspection is cost effective.

If you (or your commercial building) are experiencing a bed bug issue, look for a company that has extensive experience with bed bugs as well as a bed bug dog and handler on staff.

Should you find yourself in need of bed bug control in Utah, our bed bug dog would be happy to come and sniff out any bed bug problems you may have.

About Thorn

Thorn is a Utah local pest management company. We are a QualityPro certified company which is a prestigious accreditation awarded too less than 3% of the pest management companies in the US.

Contact Us Today

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About Thorn

Thorn is a Utah local pest management company. We are a QualityPro certified company which is a prestigious accreditation awarded too less than 3% of the pest management companies in the US.

Contact Us Today