Training dogs...............(6 posts)
I wonder how one goes about training a dog to sniff out BB's......?
This would be really handy if my Scnauzer who is still only 9 months could get to grips with that....... .
I think this falls under the category of "sounds simple enough", but reality is quite different. Note... I am not speaking as a trainer of dogs, but as a consumer of bedbug detection dogs... so my take on this may be different than the trainers. When we looked at getting a dog to help us with our bedbug work, we had a similar thought, and looked into what it takes to train one (since we have several dogs among us)... and very quickly decided that 1. it takes muuuuuch longer than you'd think (think in terms of months)to train a dog... so from our cost perspective we'd have to pay one of our staff far more than the trainers charge, and our staff isn't expert, and would have to be re-inventing the wheel 2. it takes the ability to find a dog that can do it... almost any dog can smell the bugs... but a dog that will smell them, differentiate from live and dead, let you know it by reliably alerting, do that day in and day out, not be afraid of constant changes in it's environment, etc. is quite hard to find. I don't know the exact number of dogs the trainers test before even thinking about starting one on training, but my guess is more than 10 or 20. Possibly many more. and a good number of them wash out of a training program. 3. a "pet" dog will not work. you have to treat a working dog as a working dog, or you are not going to get reliable results. if a dog can either basically sit around all day and get attention when it wants and fed regardless, there is no motivation for it to bother working when you ask it to. 4. we decided that we knew when we were out of depth, and needed experts. I won't even get into what we learned when we went to get the handlers trained... it looks like just walking a dog, but it is a very difficult thing to do. Then there the matter of continual training... are you willing to put a couple of hours a day into maintaining the dog? 7 days a week? and keep a supply of live bedbugs fed and happy to train the dog with? I have heard of a few trainers out there that will gladly offer to train your dog to detect them, but quite honestly, in every one of those cases I have also heard absolute nightmare stories of what happens to the dogs in the hands of those particular trainers. I will not name any names, as I don't have direct evidence of the atrocities, but let's say that if what I have heard is true (and I have no reason to doubt my sources) if I did have hard proof, I'd be calling the police/sheriff's department where those trainers are and see if I could get animal cruelty charges filed. If you are thinking about training a dog just to check your own house, I guess it could be done, but the investment is going to be equal to or greater than what the dogs sell for fully trained... and certainly orders of magnitude more than what it would cost to have a certified team come in and do an inspection for you. (alright, that sounds like plugging my own business model, but it also is truth. even if there where no dogs available in your state and you had to pay a team to fly in from somewhere, you still looking at usually under $1500... a good dog is $8,000-$10,000 plus time taken to train you to handle the dog) As usual, my reply had gotten much longer than I intended, so I'll stop now.
Yes I would have thought this would be far from simple to do and I don't imagine I could even begin to put in the work required to get a dog to actively work as a bug sniffer/detection K9.
Very interesting though to read your reply and some great facts around costs and the time needed. I know my dog has an amazing sense of smell and the breed was used for vermin control since the middle ages.
The time and hard work never mind expertise are key I imagine. Ah well, maybe he'll get lucky and find them, on one of his 'where's my bone' expeditions.........
Thanks for the info Handler............
Never a problem! If I could have trained ours in a reasonable time frame, with a decent chance of success, I would have been all over it too. But I figured I'd have to take several years to learn how to train dogs. My guess is that most people (especially those who have faced an infestation) would be stopped cold on the idea by having to deal with actually caring for bedbugs, and keeping live ones around. If I had done this post on the day that I clean out the controlled hides or worse, feeding day, I probably would have ranted even longer.... try imagining yourself herding a bunch of bedbugs around from container to container without the fear of a few of them getting away. Or intentionally feeding some. On a regular basis. And yes, for the record, I do realize that what I chose to do for a living is probably a bit nuts. But crazy is what it takes sometimes.
Someone needs to invent a (possibly hand held) device. maybe that a PCO would use, that will detect the presence of bed bugs and their eggs. Then we can know if they are still around or not, right?
Does anybody know if there are any bb dogs in the Wash, DC area???
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