PictureMalamar and her handler re-certified with NESDCA in Feb. 2014

There are a few times throughout my last 3 years of bed bug inspections that I would be dumb-founded by the following request of clients:  “Could you train my dog to find bed bugs!”M

  1. First of all, I am NOT a dog trainer or a handler trainer:  it takes expertise (intense training and certification) and experience to become an expert trainer.
  2. Even an expert dog trainer would be very reluctant to train a “pet” into a scent detection working dog, for the following reasons:
  • Very few dogs (1 in ~70) meet the desired criteria to qualify as “train-able” into a scent detection working dog.
  • A working dog’s sole purpose in its life is to find the scent of whatever it was trained to sniff out.
  • Thus a working dog IS NOT a pet, i.e. cannot live the life of a “couch potato” dog, for instance.
  • And most importantly, a scent detection dog is nothing without its handler.  The other half of the team is the handler.

What this means is that, scent detection is a team activity and certification applies to the combination handler/dog, i.e. the team.  There is no such thing as a handler alone being certified or a dog alone being certified.  So beware those that make such claims.
Take a close look at the NESDCA seal of certification in the picture above:  it is designated to a Bed Bug Detection TEAM .   So, Malamar, our bed bug detection dog, is NESDCA-certified with me, Dominique Nicolay,  for 2014.  Last year, I was NESDCA-certified with Nicki.

We are professionals and this means that this is a career, a full-time job that requires the following commitments:

  • A dog/handler team has to maintain training every day of the year, i.e. 365 days/year.
  • Our dogs can only be fed if they find bed bugs.  So handlers have to maintain vials of live bed bugs and have them blind-hidden by another person in order to maintain the team’s performance. This is done every day of the year!
  • A dog/handler team has to re-certify every year in order to maintain its certification.  This indicates 2 things:
  1. The dog/handler team is maintaining regular training throughout the year
  2. The dog/handler team is qualified to continue its service as a certified bed bug detection team

In another month or so, our other dog/handler teams are due for certification.  Our company is committed to providing on-going, quality training to our teams.