Why Do Bed Bug Dogs Need to be Certified?

If you pay attention to television at all, you may have heard about how bed bug dogs can potentially sniff out annoying pests, and help humans get rid of bed bugs. But not all bed bug dogs are alike, or as qualified. In canine terms, it's like comparing a Saint Bernard to a poodle. If you've ever watched the Westminster Kennel Club Annual Dog Show, you know how many talents dogs have. And most of them have a keen sense of smell --it can be hundreds of times better than humans. Canines can do work at everything from being a wonderful family pet, to sniffing out cadavers, or finding drug shipments. Also, some of them have been trained to be amazing at sniffing out bed bugs. But if you think you have bed bugs, there are some things you should check before choosing just any canine detection company.

Certification Means Results You Can Trust

One of them is that the dog (and the handler, for that matter) have been properly trained and certified. You see, while many companies over the past year have surfaced that offer canine bed bug detection services a large percentage of them do not uphold to the strict certification standards that help ensure effective and accurate results. There is a special relationship between a handler and a bed bug dog. They need to communicate and work together to find every potential hiding spot no matter how difficult to get to. This is a relationship built over time and with interaction on a daily basis. Unfortunately without the right training and credentials the lines of communication between these two partners are not as strong and the results not as reliable. That's why using only canines that have been certified with the appropriate credentials is a must for anyone who thinks they may have an infestation.

Bed Bug Dog Best Practices

According to the National Pest Management Association, there are certain best practices for properly and effectively training a dog to detect bed bugs. First of all, the dogs should be able to find live bed bugs, as well as eggs. If they find only dead bed bugs, it may be irrelevant, because they might have found an infestation that is no longer an issue. Bed bug dogs that are certified by a third party have shown that their skills are far more verifiable than others. And with regular recertification each year you know that your canine has skills that are still up to those qualifications. You don't want a bed bug dog to inspect your home if he was certified five years, so make sure their certifications are up to date.

What Does the Certification Process Entail?

According to Appendix A of these guidelines, the third-party inspector tests the bed bug dogs under field conditions.

  • The dog must be able to locate bed bugs in four separate areas. And the odors from each area must be far enough apart in the testing conditions that they don't permeate into the other areas.
  • In addition, each testing area should contain at least one distractor or hide. That is something that could potentially throw off the dog, like dead bed bugs.
  • The canine must locate the pests in four separate areas. He is allowed only one false alarm, unless it is a distractor, and that is an automatic fail.
  • And finally, the evaluators of the bed bug dogs must have extensive certification and experience themselves. That means at least five years' experience working in "canine scent handling and evaluation" in areas like law enforcement or the military.

What to Look for When Choosing Your Bed Bug Dog

Before hiring a bed bug dog always make sure that they have been certified. The IBBMA certification is considered the gold standard when it comes to pest management standards. This way, you can rest assured that the dog and its handler will correctly spot any bed bug issue you might have -- or give you the "all clear" signal.