Why a Well-Trained Bed Bug Dog and Handler is Irreplaceable
People tend to think that once they purchase a well-trained bed bug dog, they’re ready to go to work. That is a big misnomer in the industry. A few days of handler training are not enough to be considered a professional handler.
About the Dogs
A dog’s olfactory (nose) skills are amazing and when properly trained, work hard. Most dogs go through (6-10) six to ten weeks of operate training to learn the scent of bed bugs.
The bed bug dog is then taken through many different environments so they are comfortable working in these environments but they are nothing without their handlers.
The biggest problem found with trained bed bug dogs, is handler error. If you don’t understand your dog, his/her body language and train with them regularly, whether you’re on the job or not, you can fail as a team. The handler is the key that keeps it all together!
Our Journey as a Team
Back in 2008, when I was considering working in the industry, I too was a bit apprehensive of becoming skilled as a handler. I can’t say I was the best when I first started out as it was a serious learning curve. The very act of possible failure, humbled me.
I never wanted to let my client’s down and would ask myself things like, “what if my dog alerts and I don’t see it? What if I mistakenly redirect my dog or take him off cue? What if he’s trying to tell me something and I just don’t get it? What if he totally misses?” It was really about me and my ability to read my dog properly.
The stress of not being the best I could be, sometimes got to me. So, I chose to take as many advanced handler trainings I could. The funny thing is, as I got more experienced, I realized all top handlers attend advanced training whenever they can.
Becoming proficient, takes time and skills and doesn’t happen overnight. First, you have to build a tight relationship with your canine. It’s like a marriage, learning about each other, each others boundaries, what you like and dislike and establish a hierarchy.
As the years have passed, I’m humbled at what I learn each day. I think that if we ever think we know it all, that is when we stop learning.
Whether or not we have a job to hone our skills; I train with my dogs every day. There are so many different venues you can train which not all dogs get the chance to work in. Like Cinemas, hospitals, doctors offices, fire departments, call centers, the list goes on. Having a bed bug dog that is familiar in each of these environments opens a new world of discovery for them and me too!
I often challenge us as a team in order to increase our abilities to work in more environments. And what I’ve learned is that a well-trained bed bug dog and handler is irreplaceable. It’s hard for a professional pest control technician to learn how to find bed bugs during the day without the use of a good detection canine.
Training for bed bug dog detection is one thing, but it is also extremely important to increase your bed bug training as a handler. Fully understanding bed bugs nature in all environments helps me to direct the bed bug dog to those areas, that if I wasn’t fully trained or familiar with, would miss.
I stay on top of any new education available in the world of bed bugs and have many materials available for my clients. Having these skills helps me, help my clients better. With bed bugs, a well-educated, sensitive, patient and caring handler can calm the stress while helping my client.
Identifying bed bugs compared to other insects is another challenge for many people.
So, as you can see, learning how and where to find bed bugs, is only a small part of the equation. You also, need to know what to do should you find bed bugs while helping my clients make informed decisions for treatment.
Don’t go another night not knowing if these tiny bugs are in your bed, feel free to reach out if you should suspect bed bugs.