Bed bugs have become an epidemic! These pesky, tiny, little blood-feeding insects hide in crevices of furniture, rooms, and luggage, spreading rapidly. They are very hardy, able to withstand long periods without food and even temperature changes. Eradicating them is quite a challenge, as they are resistant to several methods of extermination, and avoid detection.
Recently using dogs (and specifically, scent hounds such as Beagles) has become a popular way to detect bed bugs in homes and commercial spaces. Early detection and treatment to remove the nasty critters is the best way to prevent a widespread infestation. Beagles, who have excellent sniffers, can be trained to detect the odor of bed bugs to locate them quickly and efficiently.
One potential issue with training Beagles and other dogs to detect bed bugs is that teaching the dog to distinguish between live bed bug infestations and older infestations that have already been dealt with can be difficult. Also, training an easily distractible Beagle to focus on the task at hand can be a challenge. But if you're up to it, your Beagle can be a valuable tool in the hands of an experienced handler, to locate bed bugs before they locate their next victim.
Getting a Beagle motivated to find bed bugs is not difficult, as they love to use their senses and “hunt” whatever you teach them to hunt, including bed bugs. However, getting your Beagle to focus and do a thorough sweep of an area does require discipline and training. Since bed bugs can hide in cracks in floors, walls, electrical outlets and furniture, a bed bug Beagle will need to do a very thorough search of the environment to locate all bed bugs hiding in a given area.
Most Beagles are motivated to work with their nose and get pretty excited about any task involving hunting with their incredible sense of smell. However, having food and treats available to reinforce correct scenting of bed bugs is beneficial, so your Beagle can understand what is expected of him. You will need to use samples of bed bugs to help train your dog to locate them, and great care is required to prevent them from escaping and creating an infestation. Containers with fine mesh screens and careful handling will be required.