Trust Your Bed Bug Dog

One thing I’ve discovered as a Bed Bug Dog Handler is that bed bugs are never where you expect them to be.  You cannot anticipate where they will be.  So given that, it’s essential to believe what your dog tells you.    If he alerts, he smells bed bugs and no alerts, no bed bug scent. Trust your bed bug dog.

I have gone out to houses with people who have many  ‘bites’ in the right locations – hands, wrists, ankles, face sometimes back, all the exposed areas.   My dog will not alert on any scent.  Sometimes these people have travelled and the only explanation is a delayed reaction or getting bitten elsewhere (office, etc).    And after our visit they won’t get any new bites so I do trust what my dog said: ‘no bed bugs’.

Another inspection the woman was waking up to new ‘bites’ at night.   She had just begun a job as a home care worker and went into a variety of patient homes.  Prime candidate for bed bugs!  I have to say that I went expecting to find bed bugs.  No scent according to my dog.  They had taken care of a dog the previous week and I suggested other alternatives.  I’ve also had hives and they can be itchy and fleeting.  I always do a follow up with my clients to see how they are doing.  It’s good feedback for our work.  I called her nine days later (bed bugs feed every 5-7 days so it would give them time to feed again if present).  She had not had a ‘bite’ since the night before we came out and the doctors now thought it might be hives.  I know our inspection allowed her to sleep better.

We have gone out on countless post treatment inspections where the client felt ‘itchy’ and found no bed bugs and it gave the client piece of mind.

One post treatment inspection I expected to find bed bugs.  The tenant said she had seen bed bugs recently and was getting bitten.  It had been 90 days since the heat treatment and they had a large infestation.  They unsuccessfully chemical treated first for eight months then resorted to heat when that was not successful.  This time she said she ‘wanted heat again’ and that her bed bug bites were sporadic.   I expected to find bed bugs.  My bed bug dog found no bed bug scent.  The tenant was not happy.  I also inspected the other two upstairs apartments where the tenants said they had no bites or visual confirmations and we likewise found nothing.  I instructed the woman to take a picture of the bed bug next time she finds one and send it to us for confirmation.  I think her ‘itchy’ feeling had escalated to the point where she got confused about the timing of seeing bed bugs before or after treatment.

I recently went out to a sorority house where the house manager thought the house mate was psychosomatic.  She had received bites but no one else had.  Not all people react to bites so her roommate might not react.  We had had five inspections in a row with no bed bugs.   We inspected the fourth floor rooms and found nothing.   On the third floor my dog alerted on the clothing bins under her and her roommates raised beds.  My dog was adamant with a little pawing (she has a sit alert and only paws if I’m not listening to her and she wants to make sure I hear her).  There was one other room on the same floor where I got an alert.  It was a room where the roommates also sometimes sleep.   Nothing in the rest of the house.

Bed Bug Dog trainers and handlers, or any detection dog trainer/handler for that matter, must trust their dogs to be effective.  And the way to build trust with your dog is to have your dog prove that he is reliable and to get to know your dog’s body language.  Ongoing training is the basis of maintaining a reliable bed bug dog.   Watch your dog in training and get to know his body language when he’s in scent and when he’s made a find.  If you have been out on a number of searches with bed bugs in the bed your dog will start expecting there to be bed bugs in the beds.  Be sure to train in between these inspections on beds that have no bed bugs.  Set your dog up for success.  If I’m doing inspections every day I set up training early in the morning or late at night.  It’s easy motivational training but it just reinforces the scent and proofs the dog off any expectations of a find.

Trained Bed Bug K9 sniffing behind a chair

Bed Bug Treatment – Professionals or Not

Bed bugs are difficult to eradicate once you have them.  Personally I would not attempt to treat on my own.  Once there is an infestation, a professional tretament service will address the visual problem but also the hidden problem behind walls and under floor boards.   It’s time to get professional bed bug treatment.

There are times when waiting to treat makes sense.  We had a call and did a search in Townsend MA on January 2.   The family had visited relatives in Maine.  The wife had gotten bitten and when she went to the dermatologist it was suggested that her bites might be bed bugs.  She decided to bring in a bed bug dog to see if they had brought any bed bugs back to their home in Townsend.

The bites were typical of the lines with bed bugs and she didn’t believe she had gotten any bites since she had come back but wanted to see if there were any bed bugs in her home.  I suggested that her relatives have their home inspected as well.  But as it turned out, that wasn’t necessary as the relatives had already seen bed bugs at their home shortly after the visit.

Bed bug dog Spice alerted upstairs on a cot in a bag that they had used in Maine.  Spice actually stuck her head inside the bag then sat.  She also alerted on a gym bag.  She stuck her head in the bag then sat (her alert) on top of the bag so she was pretty clear where she smelled bed bugs.  The owner put the cot bag outside in freezing temps but will need to be treated as cold cannot be relied upon.  The gym bag got thrown in the dryer.  The bag had gone to Maine and carried back all of their clothing which they had dried upon their return but had done nothing with the bag.

Rather than immediately treat since it was not clear that any bugs had migrated from the bags, the owner elected to wait 3-4 weeks to see if she gets any more bites.  Either way I will return in four weeks to recheck the house with bed bug dog Spice.  Four weeks will be sufficient time for any eggs to hatch and for bed bugs to migrate to human hosts in the house.   Also, if they are in the house there will be an established scent pool when Spice and I return to search. Our return trip at no charge will give her piece of mind.  If she sees bed bugs in the interim we will not need to return, she will treat.  If she starts getting bitten we will go back to try to get location an then visual confirmation.

Hopefully moving and taking action on the bags will be sufficient to address her potential bed bug problem.  It’s much cheaper to hire a bed bug dog than to treat for bed bugs.



Got Bed Bugs? What NOT To Do!

Bed Bugs and Travel

You’ve just gotten back from a trip. You spent and overnight in an expensive hotel. Two days later you notice a uneven line of bites on your ankle. You go online and decide the hotel room must have had bed bugs.

Too late, you’ve brought your suitcase up to your bedroom and unpacked all the unworn clothing. FIRST NOT! When you travel throw all your clothing (worn and unworn) into the washer and drier immediately upon return. After visiting an infested home I remove my clothing in my attached garage and throw it into the dryer for 30 mins unless I plan to immediately do a wash and in that case I wash on hot then dry immediately. (did you notice the word immediately?)

Okay, so your unworn clothing is back in your dresser, unwashed and undried. Too late now. You may or may not have brought bed bugs back with you. You will have to wait to see but don’t wait too long as you don’t want a large infestation. Bed bugs feed every 5-10 days. Bed bug bites sometimes are delayed at coming out so if you notice the bites a few days after travel, they may have happened in the hotel room.

What you should start doing is checking your bed. If you notice bloody dots on your sheets it’s not a good sign (smashed bed bugs possibly unless you know what else they are from). If you find a bug do NOT kill it and flush it down the toilet. Get a piece of clear tape and tape it down, then put it (in the clear tape) in a sealable plastic bag and take a picture on the macro setting of your phone. You can email that picture to an extermination company or to us. Could you have found the only bed bug you brought home? Maybe but not likely. They reproduce very quickly. Keep watching.

Bed Bugs and Bed Bug Detection Dogs

If you find positive proof of bed bugs and you live in a single family home, you don’t need a dog, get an exterminator in. If you live in an apartment building and you find a bed bug in your apartment, tell management and they should get a dog in to determine if any of the adjoining apartments have bed bugs and exactly how many units need to be treated. They quickly move from unit to unit. If you are uncertain about whether you have bed bugs, do NOT use household sprays. Once you have sprayed chemicals a dog cannot come in for 30 days. If you’re getting bitten but haven’t seen the bed bugs, get a dog in to determine if you have bed bugs or are getting bitten from something else.

Do NOT spend the money for extermination until you have positive proof that it’s bed bugs. I just went out to a search in Concord, MA. The homeowner had bites and one service was going to come in to exterminate at a high cost. The owner called another service who recommended she confirm first and referred her to me (my bed bug detection dog search is much much cheaper than the extermination). That is the more reputable extermination company because there was no beg bug scent in her home. Her bites may have been solely from her stay at the hotel and no bed bugs hitched a ride to her home. Or they could have been bites from something else.

We are not in the business to service people who don’t need us. If you call us we will consult with you at no cost to see what we can resolve over the phone to determine your problem. Many people do not want to wait to see if they brought in bed bugs and want to go ahead and have a bed bug detection dog search for piece of mind. I can understand that.

Once you think you have a problem with bed bugs educate yourself online and call a professional to find out what your best alternatives are before you have a large bed bug infestation. We offer free consultation so don’t hesitate to call us!