Can Dogs Smell Termites?

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Introduction

They're creepy, they're crawly, and they're munching on your home - but how quickly can you detect them? That's right, we're talking about termites, and it's possible that they're chowin' down on the wooden parts of your home as we speak unless, of course, you get to them in time. 

How can you possibly know if termites are hanging out in your home? We suggest you consult with your dog. That's right, your pup is the perfect consultation expert when it comes to termites because they can actually sense termites - that means they can both smell and hear them. With finely tuned senses that can zero in on the tiniest of scents, dogs are the perfect partners for termite detection. 

In fact, there's even a team of dogs (through a company known as TADD) that are trained to sniff out termites in people's homes. Want to know if your dog can pick up on the termite scent? Want to know what signs to look for to see if your pooch is getting a whiff of something creepy-crawly? 

We've got you covered. Check out our guide below to get the scoop on your pup's smelling abilities. 

Signs Your Dog is Sniffing Out Termites

Dogs are great for more than just their people-pleasing, snuggly, adorable, and personable behaviors - they're also quite talented in the sniffing department. Without training, it's probable that your dog will pick up on termites that are inside your home. 

Dogs can be specially trained to seek out these pests for special companies, but it's likely that your untrained pooch is detecting the termites in your home without any prompting based on his or her nose. So, how can you tell if your dog is hunting down termites? 

First, look for the obvious. It's likely that your dog will start sniffing like crazy. Note where your dog is smelling and how. Is he or she coming back to the same spot over and over? Are they running from room to room with their nose to the floor or on the walls? If so, you might be experiencing termite problems. 

Pay attention to your pup's body language, too. If you notice your dog with a perked tail, ears at attention, and head tilted toward something, they're probably sniffing or hearing something in the walls or floors. You can expect your dog to react strangely to termites as well. Count on your pup scratching, digging, biting, or licking at floors that contain termites.

Body Language

Here are a few signs your dog might be giving you to let you know that he or she is sniffing something strange in your house:
  • Alert
  • Head tilting
  • Listening
  • Sniffing
  • Head turning
  • Tail up
  • Blinking

Other Signs

Your dog might be giving you other signs, too, like:
  • Gnawing on wooden furniture
  • Sniffing the floor obsessively
  • Staring at the wall
  • Scratching at the walls
  • Digging at your floorboards
  • Giving off a trained or learned signal

The History of Scent-Based Detection

For years, people have been employing pooches to help them sniff out drugs, bombs, sicknesses, and pests. But what started this whole go around? 

The first use of dogs to help detect for a specific object dates back to the 1940s when the United States used American bomb dogs to sniff out German mines in North Africa. By 1971, the US was training their canine partners to identify explosives, illegal substances, and later, even using them to help sniff out medical maladies. 

Now, private organizations, governmental organizations, and many businesses capitalize on the power behind a doggo's noses. In this case, one of the first companies to employ dogs to sniff out termites and other pests is the TADD Company, or the Termite and Ant Detection Dog Company. This company uses beagles to sniff out termites in building, boats, and homes.

Science Behind the Sniffer

Dog noses are absolutely incredible. Not only do they possess about 300 million olfactory sensors, their noses are about 10,000 to 100,000 times acuter than a human's nose, too. 

To put it differently, dogs can smell in parts per trillion, meaning, if you dropped a teaspoon of blood into one million gallons of water (or rather two Olympic sized pools), the dog would be able to detect the drop of blood with ease. Dogs are able to sniff out and detect things that people never would be able to, including termites. 

So, next time your dog is clawing or barking at a spot on your floor or in your wall - don't dismiss your pooch. Consider that your doggo is likely sniffing something you can't catch onto, and that maybe, just maybe, he or she is saving your home from termite devastation.

Training Your Dog to Detect Termites

When it comes to training your pup to do anything, you'll want to make sure you're starting them young. This way, your dog will have known this sort of work experience for their entire life and they'll only get better and better as they get older. 

If you want to train your pooch to be as good as a termite dog, consider the practices that TADD Services employs with their Beagles. Consider classical conditioning using boxes or cans, a technique invented by Ivan Pavlov (you remember Pavlovian Theory from psychology class, right?).  You can use this exact tactic to train your pup to detect termites. 

Simply replace the sound of the bell with the smell of a termite and reward your dog with food, treats, and attention when they find the termites. How do you get them to do this? Start by getting them familiar with termite scent. 

Specialized programs will have termite scent contained in balls, towels, and other objects that their dogs can play with and learn from. Often, they'll try to get the dog very acquainted with the smell, then incorporate training. 

Trainers will hide the ball or towel that contains the termite scent and then heavily reward the dog when he or she finds the scent. If you're interested in training your dog to detect pests and other creatures but don't feel confident in your own abilities, consider working with a specialized animal trainer and behaviorist to get your dog to where you'd like him or her to be.

How to react when your dog sniffs out termites:

  • Reward your dog heavily for their find.
  • Continue your pup's training.
  • Contact an exterminator to take care of the issue.
  • Consider training your pup with a specialist.