When looking for a bed bug detection dog, a certified bed bug dog should be at the top of your list. Just as you wouldn’t employ an unlicensed electrician or plumber, you want to ensure that the bed bug dog and handler inspecting your house or facility have credentials to do the job. Making a mistake about the findings and false alerting could cost you thousands and thousands of dollars in treatment that you might not need. Conversely the the bed bug dog misses the bed bugs, it could result in heavy infestation and many more dollars in treatment than would have originally been necessary (not to mention the heartache of living with bed bugs). It doesn’t matter how long the handler has been in business if they aren’t certified.
I work many different detection dogs and train detection handlers and when you are out on a job your dog can pick up bad habits. You need to go back to your training to right any wrongs. For instance, if you go out on a multi-unit job that is heavily infested in bed bugs and the dog is constantly getting a food reward each time he alerts, soon he realizes he gets food if he alerts. Back in training you set up problems where you know locations of bed bugs. If there is a false alert you know it. Out in the field you don’t. So the false indications can become ingrained unless you diligently ensure that your dog is honest. Or if your dog is not a diligent searcher, he can start missing bed bug locations.
The working dog requirement is annual certifications. That way a handler must keep up with his training if he wishes to pass the test. Constantly working your dog and not keeping up with ongoing training can be detrimental to a previously good bed bug dog and result in an unreliable bed bug dog.
I’ve seen many bed bug dog handlers that have certifications on their websites but they are not current. Not only do you need to confirm certification but request a certificate (online or on the website) so you can see that it is current. If it has lapsed (longer than a year), what about the dog’s training? There are actually only a handful of currently certified bed bug dogs in Massachusetts. It is too bad because it impacts the reputation of those of us who genuinely train our dogs and follow the working dog guidelines to ensure the highest industry standards. Be sure to only consider a currently certified bed bug dog for your inspection if you want reliable results.