Below, we will take a peek at how dogs are trained to smell bugs, why this practice became popular, and if your own dog can learn this cool trick as well!
Signs of a Dog Smelling Bugs
The dog will begin to sniff around the location until they sense the smell they have been given and were trained to detect. Once they have found the possible location(s) of the bugs, they will use their special signs to signal where their handler should look further for the bugs or the bug eggs.
Most dogs are trained to touch the area with their nose or just sit/stand in front of the location. Some dogs may also be trained to bark by the location, although this is less common. A dog may also dig or use their paw to show the location of the bugs or the eggs.
These are some signs you may notice if your dog can smell bugs:
- Paw raised
- Pawing, digging, or scratching at certain location
- Touching their nose to location
- Standing in front of something
History of Using Dogs For Pest Control
From there, sniffer-dogs were trained to sense items like drugs and bombs and worked very closely with law enforcement and the government. Sniffer dogs' jobs did not stop there, however. Dogs were then trained to sniff out pests and agricultural products to help prevent unwanted items from making it across the border and into the United States.
Today, sniffer-dogs have branched out even more and many of them are used to detect invasive bugs, like bed bugs, in homes, apartments, and office buildings so the pest issue can be treated easily and efficiently. It is often challenging for humans to pinpoint the exact location of a pest infestation, so the strong sense of smell a dog has can help out greatly.
Although a bug-sniffing dog is not always correct and improvements in the training process are needed, dogs are generally quite accurate when finding the location or source of the invasive bugs they are looking for.
Science Behind Dogs Smelling Bugs
In order for a dog to smell well, their adorable, wet noses allow the scent particles in the air to land on their nose so they can smell these scents even better. If a dog's nose is dry, cracked, and crusty, they will not smell as well as they can if their nose is kept moist.
Training Dogs to Smell Bugs
To start the process at home, you need to first train your dog to effectively detect and find other scents they are familiar with so they understand the process of sniffing a scent and then actually finding it. You can do this by hiding their meals in different locations inside or outside of the house. Give them the scent of their food and then let them sniff out the location of their food to see if they can find it. Your dog's nose should be able to detect where their food is. You must also use a command, like "find," to signal to your dog you want them to find their food.
Once they do well with this task, you can move on to teaching them other scent detection and odor skills. You can take pill bottles and fill them with different items, including the item (bug) you are training them to detect and smell. You will hold the different bottles to your dog's nose and give them the command to smell the bugs. If they signal to the correct container, they must be rewarded heavily. You will want them to repeat this process many times during the day and over the course of a few weeks.
You can then begin to hide the pill bottles with the specimens inside, around the house, or outside. Have them go around and try to find where the correct samples are located. At this point, you can also use a clicker instead of treats to signal a job well done.
How to React if Your Dog Smells Bugs:
Reward them for finding the pests!
Encourage the behavior by continuing the scent training.
Enroll your pooch in professional training if they seem to have a real gift.