How Much Is A Bed Bug Sniffing Dog

Bed Bug Sniffing Dogs: The Truth about Canine Inspection

This golden retriever (named Jola) is sniffing for bed bugs under a mattress.

Thinking of hiring a trained dog to detect bed bugs? If so, it’s going to cost you about $350 regardless of whether the dog finds bugs or not.

Does scent detection work?

Below, we one visitor that claims it’s a waste of money and a K9 scent detection company’s response as to why it failed – but the general consensus is yes, it works extremely well, BUT only if:

  • The dog trained by a reputable canine detection program for bed bugs only and not cross trained to detect other insects (reduces false positives)
  • The handler is trained (accredited certification) to work with and understand alerts from the dog
  • Dog can accurately detect as little as one or a few bed bugs
  • Dog can detect live bed bug eggs
  • The handler will work to confirm dog’s findings and point out the infestation

A university study on dogs that completed a special canine bug detection training program found they had a 97% accuracy rate, but they dogs from that special program. Unfortunately, some inspection services use this statistic to promote their services even though they never had the same training. Make sure the canine used is trained using an widely recognized program.

If the company is as good as they say, they shouldn’t have a problem providing you with a sealed pin-holed plastic vile containing a few live adult bed bugs that you can hide in a room for testing. They will explain that conducting the test near a vent or up high may prevent detection.

Below is Jenifer’s story on how sent detection repeatedly failed her.

Scent Detection That Didn’t Work

Jennifer’s bad experience & a canine detection company’s response

About 2 1/2- weeks ago I noticed my wrist itched at work. upon inspection, the bites looked and felt just like mosquito bites. When I got home later I inspected my body and counted 2 bites on my right finger (about 1/2 ” apart), 2 or 3 bites on my right wrist, and one bite on my left thigh (just above the knee).

Just to be on the safe side, the next morning I had an exterminator come and do an inspection of my home to make sure I was safe and pest free.

The exterminator who came to do the inspection told me that my bites looked a lot like classic bed bug bites and explained that he needed to do a thorough inspection of my house … especially of the bedrooms. He turned my house upside down looking for bed bugs. After a long search he said that he felt very certain that I did not have bed bugs and went on and on about all the telltale signs of bed bugs and how nothing in my home shows evidence of any (except for my bites!).

Anyway, after a week or so of bite free, restful sleeps in my bed, I woke up last Tuesday morning with 8 or 9 bites on my left wrist and arm! I was/am upset, disgusted, frustrated and in pain. I envy those who are not allergic to these awful bites. Consider yourselves lucky. The following morning, I called my dermatologist and he saw me that afternoon. My dermatologist said that he was 95% certain that I had bed bug bites and 100% certain that they are insect bites either way. At this point I am really starting to lose my mind. Not only have I spent $40 on a doctor visit copay, but $185 on pest inspection and nothing has changed: (

Now I have spent nearly 200 dollars, lost a lot of sleep, and look like I have some sort of a skin condition you could catch. not a pretty picture. I spent nearly all of Wednesday night becoming a web MD/expert on and about bed bugs. After doing all my online research while I was paralyzed by fear of falling asleep – I decided the smartest thing I could do is to hire special dogs to come and sniff the exact location bed bugs!

Okay, so I hired this company with hounds that only can identify the scent of bed bug. Scam? who knows? I certainly didn’t care because I was/ am so desperate to get these things out of my house! So here is what happened. Yesterday the man with the dog came over to my home. The dog goes up to the beds in my house and apparently really reacts to something on both the bed in my master bedroom and the bed in my guest-room. You can’t imagine how excited I am that I am THIS close to hard evidence of real, live, disgusting, blood sucking bed bugs! I am this close to a solution!

Okay, the bed bug dog, handler, and I go back to the bedrooms to hone in on the exact spots the dog reacted to. This way I can find out where I need to treat the infestation. The doggy is good and shows me the spot again. I look at the box spring and then at the guy and dog and say “Uh, okay- umm can we see them… or like one”? the guy tries to find one for me but goes on to say “how hard it is to find these little suckers” and “gosh they are just so sneaky”. Ughhh. My hope of the beginning of the end of bed bugs has quickly been deflated. All I can think to myself is what a crazy, gullible idiot I have turned into in a mere 2 weeks. I will not even say how much money I spent on this. It is shameful…

Believe it or not that was my day yesterday. C’mon people- HELP ME!

Response from the owner of a bed bug dog company

I own a Bed Bug dog scent detection company that detects the odor or LIVE bed bugs and viable eggs with the use of dogs. The team here at BadBedBugs contacted me to see if I could shed light on this matter for you.

I first want to start off by saying that using dogs to detect bed bugs is certainly not a scam. In fact, scientific studies have been done on the dogs to prove the accuracy of their findings. Now here is where that last sentence gets tricky. Yes, the University of Florida has done extensive studies in regards to the use of dogs and posted that their findings were that dogs were averaging 98% accuracy. But what you need to understand is that the University used dogs that were trained at special Canine Academy. And because the University released their report without discussing who’s dogs they used, now everyone with a bed bug dog now thinks they have the right to say that their dog is 98% accurate, when in fact, that statement is completely inaccurate.

All dogs should be single scent dogs and certified via a third party and not an in-house certification program.

Now onto the situation at hand….

I don’t know what the rules and regulations of the company you used are, but I will say this, when we do an inspection we rely 100% on the accuracy of the dog. If our handlers start second guessing our dogs, then that defeats the purpose completely. And so that you know, the extensive study that the University did stated that humans were only as high as 30% accurate in finding bed bugs. Which is the other reason we don’t search for them after the dog alerts.

Now, it is true, bed bugs can be elusive. especially if they are nymphs (babies). In some cases they can actually hide within the fabric of your bed making them almost impossible to find. Also keep in mind that they could be elsewhere in your living space. Nightstand, couch, chairs, carpet, clock radios, etc etc. And for that reason alone, this is why using a dog like the ones we use, are a perfect fit for your situation. Secondly, if you were able to just see them on your bed, then you wouldn’t need a dog to begin with.

I recently had a customer go through the exact same thing as you. She had 4 pest management companies come in and none of them found a single bug. She then called us in and the dog alerted us to bed bugs on each side of her mattress. I wrote in my report that the dog alerted to both sides of the bed and was also trying to crawl under the mattress. So I suggested that if her pest control company wanted to find them to look on the mattress and under the bed.

The customer called me back 2 days later crying saying that the pest control company did not find anything at all. I asked if the pest control company completely searched the bed and box springs. She said yes. I asked how and she told me they had flash lights out looking all around the bed. When I asked if they took the fabric off the bottom of the box spring she replied NO. I suggested to look there, as I stated before the dog was trying to crawl under the bed. She called me back 30 minutes later again in tears apologizing to me stating that she found the evidence she was looking for. At last, they identified bed bugs.

I truly hope this restores your faith in the accuracy of a trained dog’s ability to sniff out bed bugs.

Scent Detection That Worked Great

Mimi’s great experience where a bed bug sniffing dog did what the pest control companies couldn’t

Mimi hired pest control companies to help her find bed bugs and in the end, it was the bed bug sniffing dog that solved the problem! Her story is listed below:

My nightmare started exactly 2 weeks ago today. That is when I caught my first bed bug on my body around 2 am. I feel “lucky” that I caught the little *#%@ because I had suspected there may have been an issue a couple of weeks prior but could not find any of the evidence in my room or on/around my bed, sheets, box springs, night stands, curtains, picture over my bed, light sockets, etc.

Late November I had to go to Cincinnati for business and about 2 weeks later I received my first “spider” bite. It was the worst bite I have ever experienced! Red, extremely itchy, and swollen. About a week later, low and behold, I got another spider bite. a few days later 3 in a row on my elbow. I even went to my doctor because my boyfriend said it looked like MRSA. After the Dr swabbed the infected area, I told him I thought it could be bed bugs. He said Mimi, you do not have bed bugs.

Well, a week later is when I caught the thing red handed biting me in the middle of the night. That night it woke me up because my neck was itching so badly. I got up to see what was wrong with my neck when I spotted her on my white t-shirt. I freaked when I caught it because blood squished out of it’s body! That’s when I knew I had bed bugs. I put her in a plastic container and looked up images on the internet.

I had three pest control companies come out (Terminix, Orkin, and OPC Pest Control), all did what I thought was a thorough inspection but none of them found any bed bugs.

So next I called this guy in Northern Kentucky who has dogs that smell live bed bugs and their eggs. His dog identified a bag that contained my down comforter (I madly cleaned, vacuumed and bagged everything the day I found the bed bug).

Broke down my whole bed and vacuumed every crack and crevice of my furniture and light socket. I have been vigilant in my search for bed bugs, exoskeletons, larvae, and eggs but still cannot find anything except for that one bed bug I caught. I know that there must have been more than that one as I had 15 bites on my neck 2 weeks ago.

The bed bug dog handler said the one I caught was a female so I am waiting to see what happens in the nest 2 weeks.

It’s been 2 weeks today since my last bite but I still wake every night with nightmares of bed bugs crawling on my neck. I wake myself up scratching my neck but, thank God no bites…. yet! I am going crazy

I think I have caught this early and if I have total faith in the dogs, only my comforter was compromised but time will tell!

Wish me luck and I wish all of you luck as well as this is the most emotionally devastating experience I have gone through to date.

A bit about the bed bug sniffing dogs that were used.
The dog service was $360. For me it was worth it as I feel his dogs are well trained and were invaluable in helping to find their location in my house! I am keeping my fingers crossed as it’s been 3 weeks since I realized I had bed bugs and no bites!

He had two dogs. The first dog he called “the sweeper”. She is a black lab and she indicated the plastic garbage bag I had put my comforter in the night I found a bed bug. (He had opened all the black plastic garbage bags that I stuffed all bedding into so the dogs could get a whiff of them).

The second dog, a terrier, was brought in after the first dog and he said was his pin point dog also only indicated on the same bag. Both dogs went through the whole house (3 levels) and all closets, dresser drawers, and my car.

He lives 1 1/2 hours away from me so my charge was reflected in my bill. He had been a pest control specialist in the Cincinnati area before he got into training these dogs and he is very knowledgeable about bed bugs as he has had a lot of experience in the Cincinnati area.

I was a little skeptical at first but he told me there is no guarantee but, he has a lot of confidence in his dogs. As of now, I do as well!

How Much Bed Bug Sniffing Dog Cost

How Much Bed Bug Sniffing Dog Cost

Dogs are used quite effectively for the discovery of a huge array of things that include but aren’t restricted to medications, bombs, fugitives, cadavers, mold, and even termites. Why don’t bed bugs? There might appear that there is no motive, and canine odor detection for bed bugs is currently offered. Bed Bug Sniffing Dog Cost.

Numerous odor detection businesses have emerged supplying canine scent detection of bed bugs. While we’re advocates of dog scent detection, it’s our view that the present odor detection supplies have limitations.

Bed bug sniffing dogs price approximately $50,000, which price, like any other business cost, is passed to the client.

The bed insect puppy is extremely accurate. The dog that is accredited has a quite large proportion of precision, frequently said to be as powerful as bomb-sniffing dogs. These bed bug canines reveal their accuracy by discovering live bed insect odor through beds, interior walls, and furniture. Bed Bug Sniffing Dog Cost.

Bed Bug Dogs

Why We Need Bed Bug Dogs

Everyone has heard the phrase, “Sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite.” The fact is
bed bugs are biting. Complaints continue to rise as the problem spreads across the globe.

What You Need to Know About Bed Bugs

Size and Feeding Habits
About the size of an apple seed, bed bugs hide in mattress seams, behind base boards, in furniture and anywhere else close to a human host. Bed bugs tend to emerge at night in search of a food source: human blood. After feeding, bed bugs can leave some people with itchy, red welts. While bed bugs are not known to cause disease, they can put your company’s reputation at risk.

Bed bugs are virtually impossible to prevent. They can thrive in spotlessly clean environments, overriding the best sanitation efforts.

How Bed Bugs Infest Property
These pests can hitchhike into your property on personal belongings, shipments, or even on your next guest. Bed bugs multiply at rapid rates. In just one month, two bed bugs can produce more than 150 offspring.

It takes just one incident to affect your business and impact your bottom line. That’s why your pest management partnership is so critical, and why a bed bug dog can help.

The Orkin Bed Bug Dog

Your New Partner in Pest Management
Bed bugs reproduce quickly, so it’s crucial to detect and treat for bed bugs early.

At Orkin, we continue to research and implement innovative, scientific pest management techniques to help protect your business. That’s why we have a team of trained canines ready to spot bed bug infestations.

Orkin’s bed bug detection dogs join our team of Ph.D.s, entomologists, and sanitarians, to provide an extra set of eyes and a keen sense of smell to help “spot” any bed bug problems you might face.

How Can Your Business Benefit from Bed Bug Sniffing Canine?

Here’s what to expect with the help of a bed bug dog:

  • Accurate Results:Did you know that dogs have about 45 times more smell receptors than humans do? This keen sense of smell makes them the new experts on bed bug detection.
  • Quick Detection:Bed bug canines can easily find the areas where bed bugs reside, and detect them quicker than their human counterparts. Faster detection can speed up the treatment process and allow you to get back to business as usual.
  • Trusted by the Law:Working canines have a long history of expertise, especially when it comes to their most valuable tool – the nose. Federal, state, and local government agencies employ dogs for search and rescue missions. Law enforcement agencies also use canine units to detect drugs and sniff out bombs.
  • Peace of Mind:Each Orkin Commercial Pest Specialist is a skilled service technician who has undergone formal accredited class work from Purdue University and is well versed in treatment techniques. The Orkin Man® plus The Orkin Dog – a formidable bed bug detection team.

Award Winning Training

No pest control company puts as much into training its pest specialists and bed bug dogs as we do.

Consistently appearing inTrainingmagazine’s Top 125 list, we at Orkin continue to distinguish ourselves from the rest of the pest control pack.

Rest assured, you’re getting the most cutting edge and effective bed bug dog management techniques delivered by knowledgeable, expert staff.

Call today to check availability for bed bug dog inspections and to get help with bed bug prevention and control.

Canine Scent Detection

Note:Bed Bug Central has worked very closely with J&K Canine Academy in the development of bed bug sniffing dogs. Pepe Peruyero, President of J&K Canine Academy, is one of the country’s top canine scent detection trainers and has worked extensively with the Entomology Department at the University of Florida in validating the use of canine scent detection for the detection of termites and is currently involved in similar research with bed bugs. It is through our experience with J&K Canine Academy and the researches at the University of Florida that we have developed many of the opinions expressed on the subject of canine scent detection for bed bugs. For more information on J&K Canine Academy you can visit their website http://www.jkk9.com/

Dogs have been used very effectively for the detection of a wide variety of things which include but are not limited to drugs, bombs, fugitives, cadavers, mold, and termites. So why not bed bugs? There would seem to be no reason, and canine scent detection for bed bugs is already available.

A number of scent detection companies have emerged offering canine scent detection of bed bugs. While we are advocates of canine scent detection, it is also our opinion that the current scent detection offerings have limitations. If you are considering a scent detection company you should consider the following:

  • How frequently do the dogs have false positive alerts (this means that the dog alerts to the presence of bedbugs in situations where bedbugs are not present).
  • How often (what percent of time) do dogs fail to find bed bugs?

You will want to carefully look at the claims of the company you are considering and determine what type of research has been done to validate their claims on the performance of the dogs. While the use of canine scent detection is both an exciting and promising method for the early detection of bed bugs, it is still an evolving technique and you should exercise caution when considering this method of detection to ensure that the detection service that you select is capable of delivering the level of service that you expect.

Canine scent detection can be very effective but it is important to realize that every bed bug detection dog and handler team is different from the next and you need to find out exactly what you can expect from the team that is performing the inspection. A well-trained bed bug detection dog should be able to identify very small numbers of live bed bugs, sometimes as few as one. Additionally, the dogs should be able to discriminate live bugs and viable eggs from evidence left over from an old infestation (fecal spotting, caste skins, empty egg shells, carcasses). Unless they are able to do this, it becomes much more difficult to distinguish between active and old infestations.

Some trainers cross train dogs to detect multiple scents which may make it difficult to interpret a dog’s alerts. How do you know whether the dog is alerting on the scent of mold or of bed bugs if it has been trained to detect both? Like any other inspection tool, scent detection has shortcomings and is not always definitive. Scent dogs depend on their noses, so their “inspection” is limited by what they can smell. Sometimes, bed bugs can be present but the odor is simply not available to the dog. The reasons for this vary, but the three most significant factors include the location of the bugs, air flow, and temperature.

If bed bugs are located well above the dog’s head, and the air flow is pulling the scent upwards, the dog may not alert. Therefore, it is entirely possible for bed bugs to be in plain view high up on the wall or along the ceiling and not be detected by the dog. It is this type of “failure” that causes some to doubt the utility of scent-detection dogs.

However, there are just as many situations where the dog will alert on bed bugs that are difficult or unlikely for an inspector to find: an outlet with a bug or two behind it, a baseboard that has a few bugs behind it, or eggs hidden along a carpet tack strip. A scent-detection dog can go under a bed and alert on bugs inside the box spring without an inspector having to take the mattress and box spring off. The dogs can alert to bed bugs behind a heavy entertainment center without anyone having to move it, and can detect bed bugs or their eggs in a pile of clothing or a toy box full of stuffed animals.

Dog going under a bed during an inspectionDog alerting on scent of bugs associated with bed
Dog alerting on the scent of bed bugs associated with a deskDog picking up scent of bed bugs in a book case

What should be your response when the dog alerts? You have a choice to make, you can either put all of your trust in the dog’s ability or you can try and confirm the presence of live bugs or viable eggs in the area that the dog indicated. If you are going to inspect the areas to confirm the dog’s findings you may need to conduct a very in depth inspection in an effort to produce the bug(s) or egg(s) that the dog alerted upon. This could involve removing the mattress and box spring, take off the outlet switch, pull up the carpet, remove the baseboard, empty and move the entertainment center, and go through the pile of clothing and stuffed animals where the dog alerted. This can be done but obviously this adds time and money to the inspection and there is no guarantee that you will be able to find the bug(s) or egg(s) that the dog alerted on. If the evidence is inaccessible, or you simply fail to see it, you will not be able to visually confirm the alert. Also, the dog is alerting on a “scent picture,” and while it will often be right where the bugs or eggs are, there is also the possibility that it is not. Scent travels with air, sometimes for significant distances.

An alternative method is to use a double blind confirmation system that uses multiple-dogs and multiple handlers. This type of an approach can help overcome some of these issues and often adds the level of certainty needed for both the handler as well as the contracting party. The way this works is that the area is independently inspected by two different handlers, each using a different dog and the results of the two inspections is compared. If both dogs indicate the presence of bed bugs in the same areas, independently of one another, the likelihood that bed bugs are actually present is quite high. Still, you must decide what you are going to do with this information. One option is to say that a double positive indication is viewed as a confirmation that bugs are present. A mixed result, one dog alerts and the second does not, could be viewed as reason to perform a visual inspection in an effort to find bugs or eggs. If visual inspection fails to reveal evidence of a live infestation, you must decide whether or not to treat for bed bugs or to just keep a close eye on the situation. Other options might include implanting the use of other tools that can help aid in the detection of bed bugs such as mattress encasements, insect interception devices, CO2 traps, or other detection traps as they are developed (also see section on Early Detection Devices) .

Canine scent detection is especially well suited for large scale inspections where visual inspections is simply not practical, such as periodic inspections of hotel guest rooms, college dormitories, entire apartment complexes, movie theaters, schools, or infestations in office buildings. The contracting parties should agree in advance as to what methods will be used and how the information will be interpreted. Questions to be considered include the following:

  • Will they rely on the dog’s detection alone?
  • Do they want a second dog for confirmation purposes?
  • What if there are mixed results between multiple dogs?
  • What circumstances will mandate a detailed visual inspection to confirm the dog’s alert?
  • How to handle situations where the presence of bed bugs could not be confirmed through visual inspection?

Nevertheless, scent detection adds a whole new dimension to the inspection. Bugs that might escape visual detection by a human may be detected by a bed bug sniffing dog and vice versa. Look at it this way: Bed bugs can be so difficult to detect that different methods may prove to be useful from one location to the next. The more bed bug detection tools you can deploy, the more likely you are to detect infestations early when bed bugs are the easiest to control. NESDCA (National Entomology Scent Detection Canine Association) The National Entomology Scent Detection Canine Association (NESDCA) was recently formed and held its first meeting at the University of Florida Department of Entomology’s Southeast Pest Management Conference. The objectives of the association are as follows:

  • To unite and assist all entomology scent detection canine teams in the training and continued improvement of all Entomology scent detecting work dogs.
  • To establish a working standard for all entomology scent detecting canines, handlers and trainers through an accreditation program.
  • To provide educational material through publications, visual aids and training seminars.
  • To improve the image of the entomology scent detecting canine.

How to Train Dogs Who Sniff Out Bed Bugs

Giardia Prevention in Dogs

Just as dogs can be trained to sniff out drugs and explosives, they can be trained to sniff out bed bugs, which can find their way into all kinds of furnishings around the home. Because these bugs are tiny, having a dog who can tell you where there is an infestation can keep you from having to treat an entire home. Plus, dogs have been proven to be almost 100 percent accurate, when properly trained, at locating bed bugs.

Step 1

Place several bed bugs in three of the five salt shakers. In one of the remaining salt shaker, place the eggs, skin casting and fecal matter. If you do not have access to an infested area from which to collect these things, you may be able to purchase them from an entomologist in your area. Leave one salt shaker empty.

Step 2

Let your dog sniff only the shakers that contain the live bed bugs. Make sure he sniffs only the salt shakers with the live bed bugs so that he doesn’t confuse scents.

Step 3

Take your dog out of the room and close the door so that he can’t see what you are doing. Hide all of the salt shakers throughout the room.

Step 4

Open the door and bring the dog back into the room. Issue a command, such as "seek" that you will be using every time you want your dog to get to work locating bed bugs. This is the command that William and Connie Steeves of Connecticut’s Canine Bed Bug Locators LLC when they want their Cavalier King Charles spaniel Gracie to sniff out bed bugs.

Step 5

Reward the dog with a treat and positive reinforcement when he finds the salt shakers containing the live bed bugs. Do this only when he finds the shakers with the live bugs. If he finds the empty shaker or the ones containing the dead matter, simply ignore the dog. This will teach him that you want him to sniff out live bed bugs, not salt shakers or dead matter.

Step 6

Keep repeating this exercise. It may take a lot of repetition before your dog gains an understanding of what it is you want him to do. Once he does, change the routine up by hiding the live bed bugs in increasingly difficult places for him to find and expanding the search area to the whole house instead of just one room. Dogs can also be trained to detect viable bed bug eggs and ignore nonviable ones, so you may want to consider running this exercise with both types of eggs once your dog is more advanced.

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