FAQ - Bed Bug Detection Dogs - Part 1 - What does the dog do when they find something?

By Keith Coddington

Our bed bug detection dogs have traveled throughout Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and California performing bed bug inspections which is a very important part of a bed bug treatment.  This FAQ series about bed bug detection dogs will focus on the most common questions we are normally asked about our dogs when customers see them in action.

The number one question I receive about our bed bug dogs is how do you know when they alert or in other words when they find bed bugs?

As you will see in the video on this page from a recent training session, all of our dogs are trained as passive alert which means they will stop their searching behavior, stand still and sit.  Once this is accomplished they are rewarded promptly.  The detection canine associates the “game of seek” with the reward which is their toy that they love more than anything on this earth.  Yes even more than their humans and even food believe it or not.


Speaking of food, we don’t use food as a reward.  It is practiced by some detection dog trainers, however the vast majority of detection dogs worldwide in all scent disciplines are trained with toys as rewards.  Toy reward dogs work extremely hard, fast and for long periods of time.  They are obsessed with the game and it is often up to the handler to call it quits because the dog never will.  The main “problem” with toy reward dogs is that it can be very difficult to get them to relax and shut-down when they aren't working.  This is a problem any canine handler will never complain about and this type of high-drive is very difficult to find.  Another reason we have avoided using food reward dogs is because of the amount of food, crumbs and food odors we encounter on a regular basis while on the job.  Our toy reward dogs will pass right over food and could care less about these odors which is a huge distraction for a food reward dog.  Think about it from a dog’s point of view:  “ why do I need to look for bed bugs to get some food when there is plenty of tasty crumbs in this couch that I am searching?”

The video above is a training scenario.  In a real world bed bug inspection if there is a dog alert we verify there is an active colony present and show the customer the real evidence before noting it on our inspection report.

At the Cimex K9 office in Phoenix, Arizona all of our bed bug detection dogs are rescues and we will always do our best to keep it that way.  It takes a tremendous amount of testing and scouring rescues to find a good candidate for this line of work, but it is always worth the effort knowing we are helping a very highly driven animal find a home that wouldn't make a desirable pet for the majority of the owners out there.

For more information our dogs and services please contact Cimex K9 at 888-928-4364