A Brief History of Bed Bug Sniffing Dogs

What can be said about man’s best friend? Dogs have been by our sides for literally thousands of years. They have been our constant companions and help-mates; our guardians and protectors; and our comforters in times of distress. While there is some debate over the precise timing and location of their first domestication it’s clear that humans have a very long history with our furry friends.

These days dogs are much more than simply companions. Now there’s a whole class of worker dog that tackles some pretty important jobs. One of those jobs is bed bug detection. Bed bug sniffer jobs have become one of the most effective tools in the battle against these blood-sucking parasites. But when did sniffer dogs enter the bed bug battlefield? And just how accurate are our canine friends?

The (Canine) Nose Knows

Humans have been relying on the powerful sniffing talents of dogs for centuries. They’ve helped us hunt for food, search for missing persons, and detect hidden caches of explosives and narcotics. These working breeds have been a boon for mankind, helping survive and thrive in what can often be hostile environments.

Dogs have upwards of 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, and a large part of their brain is devoted to analyzing smells. In comparison humans possess a meager 6 million olfactory receptors in our noses, and our ability to recognize distinct odors is fairly pathetic when compared with our canine friends. In fact, the average dog’s ability to detect and analyze specific scents is 40 times more developed than our own.

The Origins of Canine Pest Control

Bed bugs aren’t the first pest that dogs have been trained to detect. In the late 1970s exterminators began using highly trained sniffer dogs to hunt down termites. At the time it was considered a fairly radical idea. But over the years these sniffer dogs more than proved their worth to the pest control industry.

Fast forward a couple of decades. Throughout the second half of the 20th century bed bugs had all but disappeared from the country. But by the late 1990s and early 2000s these pests had begun to make a strong resurgence. Particularly in densely populated areas of the country.

It’s difficult to pinpoint the first use of trained dogs to sniff out bed bugs. The first advertisements for sniffer dog bed bug inspections appeared around 2006. The two most respected certification organizations, the National Entomology Scent Detection Association (NESDCA) and the World Detector Dog Organization (WDDO), were also established around this time.

Since then bed bug sniffer dogs have become an indispensable part of modern pest control. They offer better accuracy and efficiency when compared with older detection techniques and help bed bug inspection and removal services provide a greater level of service to their clients.

How Accurate are Bed Bug Sniffing Dogs?

Since then canine bed bug inspections have become one of the powerful tools in the national pest control arsenal. But just how accurate are these pups?

We know that dogs can be trained to an extremely advanced degree. The best example is probably the bomb detecting canine. These working dogs must achieve 100% accuracy before being sent into the field. Lives depend on it. The same level of accuracy is expected of dogs trained to detect smuggled drugs or missing persons.

Bed bug sniffing dogs have been shown to be extremely accurate when used to detect and uncover these troublesome pests. Of course much of their success depends upon their training as well as their handlers. Sniffer dogs are part of a team, and their performance in the field is dependent upon the experience and instincts of their partners. Canine bed bug inspectors, partnered with an experienced handler, can achieve upwards of 94% accuracy in real life situations.

What Does the Research Show?

In 2008 the University of Florida conducted a research experiment designed to test the accuracy of canine bed bug inspections. In this experiment 7 dogs underwent 90 days of special training. They were to identify the scent of both live bed bugs and viable bed bug eggs. The dogs were then put through a series of tests to demonstrate their ability to locate and distinguish these specific scents from other household pests such as cockroaches and termites.

The dogs that took part in the University’s study demonstrated a 97.5% accuracy rate at detecting live bed bugs and a 95% accuracy rate at detecting viable bed bug eggs. False positive rates were less than 15%. These results have been backed up by subsequent studies conducted at Rutgers and other universities. The results are also backed up by two decades of real life experience by bed bug inspection and removal services relying on the canine partners to serve their customers.

What Breed of Dog Makes the Best Sniffer?

Not every breed of dog makes an efficient bed bug sniffer. Some are more suited to the job than others. The most commonly used breed is the Beagle. Beagles posses some unique physical features that make them an ideal partner for bed bug inspectors.

The low-hanging ears that help make Beagle puppies so adorable also play a large part in their ability to sniff out unwanted pests. The ears actually trap smells while their noses use roughly 200 million scent receptors to identify and differentiate specific scents. Beagles are also intelligent and devoted animals, making them an asset to handlers.

When it comes to bed bug detection the Beagle is a breed apart.

Canine Bed Bug Inspection and Removal Services

If you suspect you may have a bed bug infestation brewing in your home or workplace the time to act is now. Contact a canine bed bug inspection and removal service at your earliest opportunity. Schedule a visit from a certified bed bug sniffer dog and their handler and get the process of bed bug removal under way. The sooner you act – the better.

 

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