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

Jola is a dog that can sniff out bed bugs

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!

Jennifer

Response from the owner of a bed bug dog company

Jennifer,

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!

Testimonials About Bed Bug Sniffing Dogs

We hired a dog to sniff out the bed bugs. It was bang on and after having our home treated, I’m considering having the dog in again just to see if everything is gone!

Smith

My heart goes out to everyone who is suffering. I just recently accepted a position as a bed bug detection canine handler and I can tell you, they work!

Michele