Bed Bug Sniffing Dogs have been around for a while now. The question is: Are they effective or absurd?
Bite Back has been in business for over a decade, and in that time we have seen fads come and go. One that has come and stuck around for the most part is the bed bug sniffing dog.
Before we go on, let it be known: we have never owned or trained a bed bug sniffing dog. We have never handled a bed bug sniffing dog. We have never worked for a company that does.
That being said, on multiple occasions throughout the years, we have worked with bed bug sniffing dogs from multiple compnaies, and we’ve learned a few things.
1. They definitely aren’t entirely bogus. Dogs can be trained to smell bed bugs. A good trainer will practice with their dog every day and the dog, every day, will find a veil of bed bugs.
2. They definitely aren’t completely reliable. As a bed bug professional, I don’t hire them or use them anymore. We have hired dogs to sniff bugs out on jobs where we have had to do multiple treatments because the customer kept complaining of bites. Each time, the dog gave a ‘soft alert’ to a certain spot, which, when visually checked, had no bed bugs on it. After a while, I began to trust my eyes as much as the dogs nose. They say a dog is 97% accurate, which is theoretically possible. However, I can confidently say that I am 97% accurate as well, and I charge about a third the price to check for you (and I can do more than bark afterwards, though I am nowhere near as cute and fuzzy). A dog handler usually charges over $200, while a personal inspection is around $75.
3. It’s just usually not worth it. If the dog doesn’t find bed bugs, great! You pay a hefty fee and then they leave. If they do find bugs, they can’t treat them, so you have to pay someone else to do so, who will usually want to do their own inspection anyway. Therefore, you are getting charged twice. At Bite Back, if we do an inspection that turns into a job, the fee is waived completely and we can come right in and treat soon after.
4. They can give peace of mind. If a personal inspection was done and said there were no bugs, but you are still feeling unsure and it is worth it to pay for a dog to come in, you should do so. A little extra money can definitely be worth a good night’s sleep. They can also be nice if the potential infestation is very new and the technician may have a hard time finding the one stray bug hanging out somewhere in the home.
5. Training matters. If these dogs are trained consistently and properly, they will become ineffective. We’ve worked with some great trainers and a couple not so great. If you decide to have a dog come in, make sure you do your research.