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Once you’ve made the decision to utilize a highly-trained K9 to provide a bed bug inspection, there are things we’ve learned from our dog’s trainer (J&K Canine Academy), as well extensive field work that can help insure you’re getting as good an inspection as possible. The good news is there’s very little you need to do in advance of a K9’s service visit – the dog is sniffing “as is,” meaning that your home’s belongings do not need to be moved about, and your belongings not being moved at least 30 minutes prior to the K9’s arrival means that bed bug scent is being localized to a very small area. That said, here are some factors we’d recommend controlling prior to a K9’s arrival:
1) Food: as our K9’s reward system is a small feeding of food, the presence of loose food should be controlled as best as possible. Specifically, it’s very normal for food crumbs to accumulate on the floors of kitchens, and sometimes even living rooms & bed rooms, and we’d recommend sweeping or vacumming these rooms before the K9 arrives. What we never want a K9 to do is lose its motivation for picking up bed bug scent because it’s searching for food crumbs instead, and this can happen when too many food crumbs are present. A high-quality K9 should never false detect to the presence of food, however, so there’s nothing you’d need to do with stored food in your kitchen.
2) Noise: the presence of noise is a major distractant, as dogs are very easily distracted by sounds. In a perfect inspection there’s no noise present, and this would include turning off any TV sets or radios, and, reducing any talking by people.
3) Air flow: too much air flow can disburse the scent a live bed bug is generating, so we’d recommend turning off your heat or air conditioner at least 60 minutes prior to a K9’s arrival. This allows air to stabilize, and for the scent a bed bug is generating to continue to permeate when the K9 begins to search for it.
4) Heat: ideally, a K9 searching a premises at room temperature is a best-case scenario (ie. 68-73 degrees F*), and for most dogs, high heat is the one thing that will make a dog tire very quickly. If you’re using an air conditioner to cool your home on a hot summer’s day, turning it off 60 minutes prior to a K9’s arrival should insure that the temperature will still be comfortable for you, as well as for the dog when the bed bug inspection begins.
5) Smoke: while dogs can very easily differentiate between scent in its search for bed bugs, the presence of cigarette or cigar smoke can affect a K9’s ability to breathe properly, and also diminish the scent the dog is trying to detect. For this reason, we’d recommend not smoking in the home at least two hours prior to a K9’s arrival.
6) Access: ideally, the closer a dog can get to where bed bug scent is being generated, the better chance the dog has of being successful. It was J&K Canine-trained dogs that achieved the 97.5% success rate in finding bed bugs that the entire industry now refers to, yet that % was achieved because the dogs had good access to where they were searching. When we’re providing inspections, we always hope for at least 270* degree access around each bed & each sofa (which is to say, front-and-sides), and when we get that, we expect the dog to be successful. An anology we like to use is this: when you see dogs sniffing luggage at the airport, they’re not doing it from many feet away; instead, they’re up close. For this reason, access is very important.