Dogs are known for their ability to pick up scents that are undetectable to humans, and they do assist pest control companies in locating bed bugs. In fact, dogs started becoming certified to assist in pest detection in 2011. They are able to help pest control technicians locate the hiding spots for bed bugs so that they can effectively treat your home and eliminate your infestation. They can also locate bed bugs if you aren’t sure whether you have any hiding.
How Do Dogs Locate Bed Bugs?
Dogs are trained to locate bed bugs using a food reward system. They are trained to locate these pests by their odor; bed bugs emit pheromones that have a distinct scent that dogs can recognize. This is an effective method of locating bed bugs because they often hide in cracks and crevices where they are unable to be seen.
In a 2008 study by University of Florida, dogs who were trained this way would scratch the surface when they detected bed bugs, and they were found to be correct 97.5% of the time. They also could tell the difference between live and dead bed bugs, eggs, and the exoskeletons with a 95% success rate.
What Breeds of Dogs Detect Bed Bugs by Their Scent?
The most popular breed of dogs to find bed bugs based on their odor is the Beagle. This breed has close to 200 million different scent receptors, and they are excellent scent dogs. In addition, Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Belgian Shepherds are used with success.
What to Ask a Pest Control Company That Uses Dogs to Detect Bed Bugs
Although most of the time dogs do accurately detect bed bugs, it is an expensive process and treatment, and you want to make sure that your results are accurate. It is true that dogs can be trained to sniff out bed bugs, but you should ask the company you speak to what training their dogs have had. Find out how frequently their dogs have false positives – where they detect bed bugs in spite of the fact that they aren’t there.
In addition, you should ask how often their dogs find bed bugs when there are none there. The dogs need to be able to distinguish between live bed bugs and the exoskeletons that they shed because one is a sign of a current infestation and the other is an indication that bed bugs have been there at some point in time.
Finally, it is important that the dog and its trainer have been together for a period of time so that they work well together. The trainer needs to know the dog well enough to know what its responses mean. You will pay a lot of money to have bed bugs treated in your home, so it is critical that the information you get is accurate.
Can Your Dog Smell Bed Bugs?
Your dog may also be able to pick up the scent of bed bugs and alert you to their presence. If you notice your dog paying extra attention to an area of the room, looking intently at a wall or a section of floor under your bed, or just acting strange, the dog is probably onto something.
You can train your dog to smell bed bugs. Start out by teaching your dog that it will earn treats for correctly picking up scents. For example, you can prepare samples by putting different kinds of bugs in containers with a mesh top. Reward your dog when it chooses the correct container. In the beginning, you might need to use food in the container with the bugs to keep your dog’s interest, but you should work up to the container without any food.
Why Do Dogs Help Find Bed Bugs?
Dogs help pest control companies and homeowners find bed bugs. Bed bugs are nocturnal pests that spend most of their time hiding in dark quiet places. They love to hide in the cracks of floors, around baseboards, under furniture, and in crevices around the bed. They only feed once a day, and they come out to get their meal when they sense human presence by body heat and carbon dioxide from exhaling.
They do not wake you up when they feed on your blood. Their bite is undetectable, and often the only sign of their existence is the bite marks and itching on your skin. However, once you realize that they are there, you can be sure that if you don’t eliminate them, they will increase their population. Females lay an egg every day, and the eggs take around 10 days to hatch. Once they do, the larvae start feeding, and they take five to six weeks to reach adulthood.
Because the only sign you will often have is the bite marks on your skin, it is very difficult to figure out where they are hiding. This is where a dog that can detect bed bugs can come in handy. When you treat your home for bed bugs, you need to know where they are so you can get rid of them.
Knowing that dogs can pick up many scents that humans cannot, scientists wondered, “Can dogs smell bed bugs.” Researchers at University of Florida put this theory to the test in 2008, and found that dogs could in fact be trained to pick out bed bugs over other kinds of pests. Other researchers have conducted tests, and in 2011, dogs began to be certified and used by pest control companies.
Although dogs can smell bed bugs, make sure that your pest control company has a successful track record before you get started. It can be expensive to treat your home, and you want evidence showing that they have highly qualified dogs and handlers to perform this test.
You can even train your own dog to smell bed bugs; just start with obedience training, and build this up as one of your dog’s skills.