Training with pseudoscents

Pseudoscents are a controversial topic amongst professional detection trainers.  Some will never use them, some will always use them, and some flip back and forth. So what am I doing with Camo?

Without a realistic dedicated training facility and a steady pool of live bed bugs, training a bed bug dog can sometimes be a logistical pain in the rear end.  A trained bed bug dog has to alert on live bed bugs only ( alerting on dead bugs, feces, and casings are not acceptable for a professional bed bug dog).  Training bugs need to be contained and kept alive for training purposes.  While there are vials specifically designed for training detection dogs, the vials do not necessarily fit in all the places that bed bugs can fit.

bed bug detection dog training vial
Vial of bed bugs for training a bed bug detection dog

Dogs do not generalize very well so need to be worked in unfamiliar places.  Live bed bugs are not normally welcomed at other people’s property, and this is where a solution can be found using bed bug pheromone spray.

bed bug pheromone spray
Bed bug pheromone spray ready for use

Some may ask, “why not do all my training on pseudo pheromone scent, and then I don’t have to worry about keeping live bed bugs?”

In short, I worry about the scent profile that the spray has as it is within a carrier alcohol.  If the dog is imprinted on the pseudo, I worry that the dog will look for a scent profile that includes the carrier alcohol.  

My solution with Camo was to initially imprint on live bed bugs and then introduce the pheromone spray to see if it was a seamless transition.  The following pictures will show where the hide was, and Camo finding it.  I did not introduce the pheromone spray by itself.  Rather, I just sent him to search and he was searching for bed bugs.

Pseudoscent hide location
The gauze with the pheromone scent was placed under the baseboard heater, behind the dustpan

Camo finds pseudoscent hide
Camo seamlessly found the bed bug pheromone spray hide

I will continue switching Camo’s training back and forth between live bed bugs and pheromone spray so that I am able to fulfill a well rounded scent detection training program with him until we are ready to test for certification.

Stay tuned for future inside looks of Camo’s bed bug detection training journey….

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