We recently collaborated with Mike Posey of M2 Bed Bugs on the case study “M2 K9s & Aprehend Team Up at a Homeless Shelter” where Mike and his dogs eradicated a long-term infestation in a 35,000 sq.ft. shelter and human services complex. We took the opportunity to interview Mike about his experience with training and running dogs for bed bug detection.
How do you train your dogs?
M2 currently has 4 dogs on the team – Turbo, Sarge, Scamp, Jett. As far as training goes, to get them on bed bugs is quick. But to train them to actually work a house, it takes at least 3-4 months to feel confident that the dog will be hunting bed bugs and do what it’s trained to do. We are constantly training them. To insure that our dogs and handlers are at the top of their game, we have our dogs and handlers tested regularly and accredited independently by the National Entomology Scent Detection Canine Association (NESDCA).
What makes a good bed bug dog?
1: A love of food! M2 dogs are trained using food. They are rewarded using food. When they find a bug, they get food. They do not have food bowls. If they are not working (Saturday and Sunday for example), we hide bed bugs in little tubes and they find the bugs. They are rewarded as if they are working for a customer.
2: A great sense of smell. If they can’t find the scent, they won’t be effective.
3: Just the right size. Beagles (and those around the same size) are the perfect size. Not too small, not too big. If a dog is too small or too hairy, you can’t always see what it is doing. If it is too big, it can’t get into smaller spaces and can damage customer property. 4: Energy…with control. A dog needs to last a few hours, but not burn himself out. Some dogs are too hyper and some are too sedate.
Does Aprehend impact their nose/smell?
When starting out with Aprehend, we would spray a card, and then after drying it for a week, we’d place it in the training environment to see if the dog notices or alerts. He’s found that Aprehend does not impact their nose, unlike some other chemical treatments. “If there are fresh pesticides applied in a property, Turbo won’t even go in the house; traditional chemical pesticides make him sneeze and his eyes water. In some cases if alcohol was sprayed on a bed, the dog will instantly alert. Because so many people have been spraying alcohol on their beds for self-treatment, it’s a false positive.” M2 waits 30-45 days to take the dog back in, depending on the level of initial infestation.
Rosie inspecting an office area.
After 9 years of running dogs, I still have the “wow” factor watching them work. You’d be surprised how good a dog can be, even if your human inspection is very good. The dog’s nose can beat any human or team of humans, for example finding eggs on a cream-colored couch that you’d never find. Dogs have incredible noses that can do amazing things like track other animals, track bad guys, find explosives, find drugs, find cadavers, and other things. M2 dogs go to school with police dogs, search and rescue dogs, cadaver dogs, and personal protection dogs. Our handlers are also trained extensively. When we put them together, we have a great solution to bed bug problems.
There may be K9 skeptics, and not everyone has had a good experience training dogs or successfully implementing them into ongoing protocols. The dogs give me and my customers confidence. When I run the dogs after a treatment and the customer doesn’t see any alerts, it gives peace of mind. The customers remember, “You’re the guy that has that dog!” I have customers that don’t know my name, but know my dog’s name.
Click here to see a video of Turbo in action.
Find out more about how Aprehend can help you win the fight against bed bugs – check out other PMP Case Studies, our products, or give us a call at (800) 891-8610. We will discuss how to integrate Aprehend into your current protocol, reduce call-backs, and eliminate the most difficult infestations.
HOMEOWNERS: find an Aprehend professional near you here, or give us a call at (800) 891-8610.