I don’t often talk directly about my clients here on the site, but I am working right now with some new folks who are training and selling bed bug sniffing dogs and thought it would be worth sharing some information on them. I think they’re doing some cool things anyway – so buckle-up, give it a gander and see what you think.
What is a Bedbug Dog?
I’ll be honest: when I first heard about this, I had no idea what to think…but I am learning. 🙂 I found out a bedbug dog is a dog that is specifically trained to sniff-out bedbugs. In the same manner that a dog might be trained to lead the blind, locate a cadaver buried in the woods, or find the pot stashed in your luggage, so to can they be trained to find these pesky little intruders.
A bedbug dog might be any number of breeds – though Labrador Retrievers and Beagles seem to be among the more popular choices. My new clients (the good people of ACES) tend to prefer labs for this work. ACES Master Trainer says that these dogs have a natural temperament and great disposition for this type of work. Trust me when I tell you their work ethic is pretty persuasive…but I love labs anyway, so had no reason to question this logic.
ACES looks for dogs from about 8 months old to 3 years old to select them for training. They personally vet the dogs to ensure they display some of the traits (obedience, intelligence, etc.) of the best workers – but not every dog makes a good bedbug dog.
How Do Bedbug Dogs “Work?”
ACES primarily serves hotels and the hospitality industry. However, residential folks also might call upon a service like this, if they have reason to believe they might have an issue.
Discreetly, the ACES team shows-up at the place being checked – the team being a minimum of a bedbug dog and its handler. The team will enter a room and systematically make sure that there are no live bedbugs in it anywhere – and that is one thing I thought was really cool…the dog’s ability to sniff out any problems (ignoring false positives) – even through a wall! The handler will lead the dog around the room, and if there is a scent of live bedbugs (be it in the bed, the carpet, the walls), the dog “Alerts” on it (sitting, or “pointing”) – signaling that the handler needs to perform a more detailed visual inspection. If the live bedbugs are found, then the room can be properly treated.
The bedbug dogs ACES uses could tell the difference between live bedbugs, and dead ones. ACES said the live ones have a scent that dead ones lose – so if a dog alerted to a pile of dead bugs, it would be because a live one has passed by numerous times, leaving the scented trail. But I saw the dogs completely ignore the dead stuff, but they did not miss the live ones. I think this is pretty cool – and from a hotel or homeowner’s perspective, dead bugs are nowhere near the issue that live ones are.
Who Buys Bedbug Dogs?
I learned that many pest control officers buy these dogs so they can offer more services to their customers. But interestingly, I also found out that many entrepreneurs also buy bedbug dogs, commit to training, and then open a business to offer the service. (that’s what the title of this post means) It is certainly becoming a more popular way to handle the growing bedbug problem, and more of the larger cities in the US are seeing the emergence of bedbug detection and treatment service providers.
The dogs I saw working were amazing animals: they were smart, happy, and extremely well disciplined. But they truly loved their work – they do it purely for reward (treats) and hearing “Good Boy!” when they do well.
Though the handler’s role is very important, ACES proved it was the dog doing everything by having a kid serve as handler, and the dog worked like a champ anyway – the normal handler was not leading the dog, or helping at all. The live bug were hidden in different places (once, next to a gasoline can to throw off the scent) but the ACES dogs found the live bedbugs every time.
Hope You Never Need a Bedbug Dog
While I was impressed by the way these dogs went to work and what they could do, I sincerely hope none of you ever need to call on ACES or a similar service to come and find the bedbugs in your home or establishment. Bedbugs are nasty little things, and their bites hurt. While it is best you never deal with them at all, if you do run into a problem it is a good thing these dogs are highly trained.
Bedbugs are not caused by a lack of cleanliness. One final thought before I move back into the exciting world of SEO copywriting as my motif, is that bedbugs have nothing at all to do with a room being clean or not – they are simply insects that travel a lot, and might hop a ride in your luggage or something, and set-up their home when they get to yours.
If you are dealing with a potential bedbug problem, ACES tells me the best thing is to get in there and treat it early. Don’t ever be ashamed or embarrassed (it’s not your fault) – be aggressive. Call ACES, and have one of their bedbug teams come out and see what they can find. Hopefully, nothing. But if a bedbug dog alerts, at least you are then on your way to finding the bedbugs and getting rid of them, once and for all.
ACES had some changes since I initially wrote this post, and the food-driven aspects of bed bug dog training I talk about up there, are not the ones employed by their current senior trainer, Ray Figueroa.
Ray believes in toy training his bed bug dogs and after seeing the difference, I am a believer myself. Here’s a clip of Ray talking about how he selects bed bug dogs to become an ACES Lab:
With food trained dogs, they are driven by hunger while a toy drive dog seeks for toy rewards. I also saw all the food-drive dogs being led to the places they needed to seek – whereas, a toy-driven dog just runs his work all on his own…it is a huge difference in the way the animals work, very clear to see.
I shot a video of a dog at ACES doing a couple simple training exercises, but you can see it in how this dog works – there is serious drive, and focus going on here. Toys win!
ACES is offering bed bug dog services in the greater Atlanta area for bed bug detection, and selling toy-trained bed bug sniffing dogs to people all over the country. There are testimonials and videos of dogs in action on the site, so if you have a need for these specialized canines, I highly recommend ACES to you. Still. 🙂