If you have ever seen a bed bug dog work and thought to yourself – “What is that dog doing? My pet could do a better job than this!” Then here are a few items to look for specifically to evaluate the quality of a working dog (no particular order):
* Motivation/Drive - is the dog driven by its own internal personality or does the handler have to coax it to perform?
* Focus on the Task – Is the dog looking for bed bugs or is it foraging for crumbs of food?
* Relationship with Handler – Is the handler kind but structured with the dog or do they have to plead or threaten the dog to do the job?
* Weight & Health – does the dog look happy and healthy? Over skinny or over weight means bad food management by the handler.
* Endurance – how long does the dog work? If it will only work for an hour there are other issues that need to be addressed.
* Over handled – does the dog have the freedom to work or is the handler directing every single move it makes with a tight leash. Over handling can make a dog handler-dependent and less effective at their job
* Hides – does the handler put out hides so the dog can be successful and rewarded? This is critical to proper motivation. However, if you can see the hide and the dog can lick it, it is not placed well. Is the handler careful about not leaving their own scent on the bed bug vials?
* Alerts – when they alert do you find evidence? 100% non-confirmed alerts = bad handling, I expect a few bed bugs to be elusive but not all of them.
A well-trained accurate dog will search on their own for bugs, knows where to look without constant direction and is motivated from within. A rock star bed bug dog will make you say “WOW, I can’t believe that he/she found that!”