Certification Process, Rules & Requirements

The following regulations serve as the foundation for the certification of bed bug detection dog teams.

1.1    Evaluator

The evaluators employed by the Bed Bug Foundation (BBF) undergo an internal selection process, examination and then certification.

Evaluators who also train scent detection teams are not permitted to certify the teams they train.

1.2       Training requirements for handler and dog

The Bed Bug Foundation requires that the following minimums are satisfied during review in order to successfully pass the examination and become certified.

  • Scent identification of the target.
  • Alerting or marking.
  • Development of search intensity and condition.
  • Basic knowledge of bed bug behavior and biology.
  • Basic knowledge of the behavior and health of dogs.
  • The ability of a dog to search for 15 minutes without a break.


1.3       Definition of bed bug detection dog team

  • The certification is exclusively for a team consisting of a dog and handler; separate certification for a dog and handler is not possible.
  • Should a handler separate from his dog, the certification is nullified.
  • It is possible to have a dog tested with more than one handler. Each handler will be certified separately with the dog and at different locations.


1.4       General Provision

  • Membership of the BBF is required to take part of the examination.
  • Each team is free to decide in which country it would like to certify.
  • The aim of the certification is to test and certify bed bug detection dog teams, as defined in point 1.1, to meet the high-quality standards aimed for by the Bed Bug Foundation.
  • The examination consists of both theoretical and practical criteria. Passing the theoretical part of the exam is a prerequisite for participating in the practical part. After both parts of the exam have been passed, the bed bug detection dog team is certified.
  • The certification is valid for 12 months. After the initial certification, the team must recertify every 12 months.


2.       Examination requirements

2.1       Requirements of the dog handler

  • Submission of a current police clearance check, which is free of any negative entrees.
  • Consent to the publication of contact details on the BBF website.
  • Current insurance coverage for damages caused by the handler or dog.

2.2       Requirements of the dog

  • The dog must be at least 15 months old on the day of the test.An exception request can be made to the BBF to test between the ages of 12 to 14 months.
  • The dog must not be older than 10 years at the time of first certification.
  • The identity of the dog must be proven beyond doubt by reading the transponder chip.
  • Presentation of a valid vaccination certificate (the legal requirements of the respective country must be observed) and a veterinary health certificate, which must not be older than 2 weeks at the time of the test (Attachment 1).
  • The dog must show neutral reactions to reasonable environmental influences.
  • The examiner is entitled to check the dog for aggressive and/or fearful behavior by friendly neutral contact and/or appropriate touch. Should the dog show excessive aggressive or fearful behavior, this will result in exclusion from the test and will be reported to the BBF.
  • Dogs that are professionally trained or used in other detection work will not be admitted to the test.
  • The handler is obliged to inform the BBF of any further detection work, failure to do so will result in immediate loss of certification.
  • Work as a search and rescue dog or truffle detection dog is permitted. The Board of Directors of the BBF granted the corresponding applications of dog handlers, as this search work is carried out outside indoor rooms and therefore does not lead to conflicts in the evaluation of a positive report.

3        Examination Procedere

3.1       General

  • Certification is only available to members who have previously registered for an exam on the BBF website.
  • The BBF aims to hold at least four examinations per year throughout Europe with the results being published on the organization`s websites.
  • An examiner appointed by the BBF will be present throughout the examination.
  • The handler’s trainer is permitted to be present at the test but is not permitted to influence the handler’s decision-making process.
  • Other persons approved by the BBF may observe the certification, as agreed upon by the dog handler and the evaluator.


3.2       Disqualification from the certification

  • If, in the opinion of the examiner, the handler shows strong coercion or excessive harshness towards the dog, this will result in immediate disqualification (failed certification and report to the country representative). The BBF representative must submit a written report to the animal welfare authorities of the country in which the certification was conducted as well as the BBF. The BBF reserves the right to take further action as appropriate.
  • As the certification is aimed for use in hotels or private homes exemplary care and grooming of the dog is an examination requirement; unkept or soiled teams will not be admitted to the examination.
  • Should the dog show excessive aggressive or fearful behavior during the test, this will lead to disqualification (failed certification) with a report to the BBF.

4          Carrying out the test

4.1       Suitable locations

  • Private residence.
  • Hotel, hostel or other accommodation.
  • The location must be free from drafts, windows must be closed, and heating, cooling and ventilation switched off (when possible).
  • The indoor temperature should be between 17 degrees C and 24 degrees C.


4.2       Hiding place for bed bug samples

  • The samples must be laid out at least 30 minutes before the start of the test.
  • The samples must not be visible to the handler or the dog.
  • A maximum height of 1.20 m and a maximum depth of 20 cm of the hiding places must be observed.
  • If placement on the previous day is possible, placement at a maximum height of 2.0 m and a maximum depth of 40 cm is permitted.

4.3       Tasks and responsibilities of the examiner

  • The examiner selects and prepares the location for a BBF examination to be held. If a test is organized externally, the organizer is responsible for the location.
  • The examiner defines the area where the team should start searching.
  • The examiner accompanies the team throughout the test and must be able to assess the performance shown.
  • The examiner describes a tactical situation to the handler in oral or written form at the beginning of the test. The handler may question the examiner to gather information as desired with the help of a checklist (Attachment 2). The handler then communicates his planned approach to the search. This allows the handler to demonstrate his understanding and knowledge of the situation presented.
  • The examiner checks the dog during the test for neutral reactions to common environmental influences (e.g. slamming a door or a broom falling over).
  • The examiner assesses the dog during the test for excessive aggressive or excessive fearful behavior.


4.4       Handler and dog

  • During the test the team is also judged on how well the handler and dog work together and whether the handler can control his dog at all times.
  • The handler decides whether he leads his dog on or off-leash in the search, as well as whether he shows a fine or coarse search; the examiner is entitled to have a handler show a search technique (on/off-leash, fine/coarse search) that has not been shown.
  • The handler may use the equipment normally used (collar, harness, leash, etc.).
  • The handler may praise and reward his dog during the search.
  • The handler accompanies his dog throughout the search and may use the usual commands and gestures.
  • All indications of the dog must be made in a passive technique.


5          Examination procedure and determination of results

5.1       Theoretical examination

  • To pass the theoretical part it is necessary to answer at least 12 of the 15 questions correctly.
  • If answers of the written part are not clear for the examiner, a short oral re-examination is possible.
  • The questions for the theoretical part of the exam are available on the Bed Bug Foundation website for registered members. If you have any queries, please contact the certified training centres.

5.2       Practical examination

  • The examiner decides on the number of rooms to be searched.
  • It is possible that rooms are to be searched without bed bug samples.
  • A total of 4 – 6 bed bug samples are hidden. Each tube contains a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 15 live, adult bed bugs.
  • 1 – 2 hiding places are equipped with distractors.
  • The examiner decides which of the following distractors will be used:
  • Dead bed bugs (dead for at least 2 weeks), hidden in a tube or loose.
  • Other non-target insect species commonly found in a households, e.g. carpet beetles.
  • Dog treats
  • The use of pseudo-scent (artificial bed bug smell) is not allowed.
  • To pass the test, the team must find at least 3 hiding places. There may be a maximum of one miss.
  • An alert on any distracters will result in failing the test.
  • The dog’s alert must be clearly visible to the examiner.
  • The examiner may ask a team to find another hiding place if he has doubts about the team’s performance.
  • Active alert behavior, such as scratching or barking, will result in failing the test.
  • If the dog needs a break during the search, the team may take a break but not leave the search area.

6    Certificate and ID-card

  • Upon successful completion of the examination, the team will be issued a certificate and an ID card.
  • The certification is valid for 12 months from the date of issue.
  • The handler has the option, for valid reasons, to apply for a 3-month extension to the relevant Country Officer.

7   Repetition of the examination

  • Should a team fail the practical part of the examination, the certification can be repeated after three weeks.
  • If a team fials a second certification they must then wait three months.
  • In the case of practical re-examinations or recertification, a passed theory examination does not have to be repeated.
  • After failing the examination, the team has a maximum of two further attempts to repeat a practical examination.

Contact Larry Hansen at: [email protected] for all the details on how you can attend or host a certification event and any other questions you may have on the certification process.