While bed bug dogs are extremely accurate at detecting bedbugs, they can be wrong sometimes. This is particularly true when the dogs report false positives, which can lead to costly extermination treatments. The National Entomology Scent Detection Canine Association (NESDCA) calls for an independent oversight board to oversee the field.
In most cases, false positives are due to the handler. The dog may be responding to a specific cue from its handler or even to a residue of a previous infestation. It’s crucial that the handler understands the biology of the bedbug before using a dog for detection.
Another study found that bed bug detection dogs are often wrong. The study’s small sample size made it difficult to determine if experience or certification status were factors in accuracy. The teams that participated were all new. The longest-experienced dog and handler combination had only been working together for three years. The study also found that half of the teams hadn’t worked together for more than a year.
Inexperienced technicians can also make false positives more likely. Some companies rely too much on bed bug dogs and neglect to do an accurate inspection. In one case, a technician didn’t even check for live bugs, yet recommended treatment even if there weren’t any live bedbugs.