Can Termites Be Dangerous or Harmful to Your Pets

Termites are a problem that most of us won’t wish upon our worst enemy, but they can be gotten rid of, safely, and without any harm coming to you, or your pets. If you think you have a termite problem, contact us today.

Release the hounds: it’s the big termite hunt

By Henrietta Cook

ON AN average day Bluey makes four house visits, sniffing skirting boards, cupboards and carpet for signs of termites.

”The dogs are extremely useful,” says Peter Hearn, owner of Buy Wise Inspection Services. ”If we can’t get under the floor, they can smell termites from above the surface.”

The nose knows: Bluey with his handler Andrew inspecting a Frankston house. Credit: Ken Irwin

Research from the University of Florida shows trained dogs can detect termites with about 96 per cent accuracy, making them a powerful tool against the damaging pests.

While termite detection dogs are common in Queensland and New South Wales, where the warmer climate creates ideal breeding conditions, only a handful of Victorian pest inspection companies use dogs.

Mr Hearn says dogs are the only tool that can detect termites in floorboards covered by carpet.

They can also sniff out termites before their damage is visible to the human eye.

On Thursday the beagle worked in a brick veneer home in Frankston, a hot spot for termites according to Mr Hearn.

”One in three houses in Frankston will have some evidence of termites, whether it’s past, present or they’re in the garden,” he says.

Real-estate agents and prospective buyers pay about $590 for a session with Bluey’s discerning nose and two human inspectors.

He is always accompanied by his handler Andrew, who uses a tapping stick, a moisture metre, thermal imaging camera and motion sensors to inspect each property before Bluey takes over.

When the dog has made a discovery he scratches the floorboards, paces up and down and peers up at Andrew.

Bluey’s initial training took place in Queensland at the K9 Centre, which also trains narcotics, security and explosives dogs.

During the rigorous training, which takes four to six months, the detection dogs are taught to recognise different odours. Each time they sniff out the target odour they are given a reward. For Bluey, the scent is termites and the reward is jerky and pigs’ ears.

The training will continue for the rest of Bluey’s life, and every few days he detects a live termite that has been planted in a property in a sealed container.

”It keeps him on the ball,” Mr Hearn says. ”They have no risk of reinfesting the property – the termites die when they are not in their colony.”

Martin Dominick, who trained Bluey and is owner of the K9 Centre, says using detection dogs rules out human error.

”Traditional methods are managed by inspectors themselves. There is human error you have to factor in and limitations of technology. The beautiful part about dogs is they work freely. They understand what they are looking for.”

Mr Dominick, who served as a Royal Australian Air Force police dog handler, says dogs have a phenomenal sense of smell and can be trained to detect any odour.

”When I first joined the air force, the analogy they gave me was a human’s olfactory system can cover a postage stamp while a dog’s will cover a large handkerchief.”

Can Dogs Smell Termites?


How can you possibly know if termites are hanging out in your home? We suggest you consult with your dog. That’s right, your pup is the perfect consultation expert when it comes to termites because they can actually sense termites – that means they can both smell and hear them. With finely tuned senses that can zero in on the tiniest of scents, dogs are the perfect partners for termite detection.

In fact, there’s even a team of dogs (through a company known as TADD) that are trained to sniff out termites in people’s homes. Want to know if your dog can pick up on the termite scent? Want to know what signs to look for to see if your pooch is getting a whiff of something creepy-crawly?

We’ve got you covered. Check out our guide below to get the scoop on your pup’s smelling abilities.

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Signs Your Dog is Sniffing Out Termites

Dogs can be specially trained to seek out these pests for special companies, but it’s likely that your untrained pooch is detecting the termites in your home without any prompting based on his or her nose. So, how can you tell if your dog is hunting down termites?

First, look for the obvious. It’s likely that your dog will start sniffing like crazy. Note where your dog is smelling and how. Is he or she coming back to the same spot over and over? Are they running from room to room with their nose to the floor or on the walls? If so, you might be experiencing termite problems.

Pay attention to your pup’s body language, too. If you notice your dog with a perked tail, ears at attention, and head tilted toward something, they’re probably sniffing or hearing something in the walls or floors. You can expect your dog to react strangely to termites as well. Count on your pup scratching, digging, biting, or licking at floors that contain termites.

Body Language

  • Alert
  • Head tilting
  • Listening
  • Sniffing
  • Head turning
  • Tail up
  • Blinking

Other Signs

  • Gnawing on wooden furniture
  • Sniffing the floor obsessively
  • Staring at the wall
  • Scratching at the walls
  • Digging at your floorboards
  • Giving off a trained or learned signal

The History of Scent-Based Detection

The first use of dogs to help detect for a specific object dates back to the 1940s when the United States used American bomb dogs to sniff out German mines in North Africa. By 1971, the US was training their canine partners to identify explosives, illegal substances, and later, even using them to help sniff out medical maladies.

Now, private organizations, governmental organizations, and many businesses capitalize on the power behind a doggo’s noses. In this case, one of the first companies to employ dogs to sniff out termites and other pests is the TADD Company, or the Termite and Ant Detection Dog Company. This company uses beagles to sniff out termites in building, boats, and homes.

Science Behind the Sniffer

To put it differently, dogs can smell in parts per trillion, meaning, if you dropped a teaspoon of blood into one million gallons of water (or rather two Olympic sized pools), the dog would be able to detect the drop of blood with ease. Dogs are able to sniff out and detect things that people never would be able to, including termites.

So, next time your dog is clawing or barking at a spot on your floor or in your wall – don’t dismiss your pooch. Consider that your doggo is likely sniffing something you can’t catch onto, and that maybe, just maybe, he or she is saving your home from termite devastation.

Training Your Dog to Detect Termites

If you want to train your pooch to be as good as a termite dog, consider the practices that TADD Services employs with their Beagles. Consider classical conditioning using boxes or cans, a technique invented by Ivan Pavlov (you remember Pavlovian Theory from psychology class, right?). You can use this exact tactic to train your pup to detect termites.

Simply replace the sound of the bell with the smell of a termite and reward your dog with food, treats, and attention when they find the termites. How do you get them to do this? Start by getting them familiar with termite scent.

Specialized programs will have termite scent contained in balls, towels, and other objects that their dogs can play with and learn from. Often, they’ll try to get the dog very acquainted with the smell, then incorporate training.

Trainers will hide the ball or towel that contains the termite scent and then heavily reward the dog when he or she finds the scent. If you’re interested in training your dog to detect pests and other creatures but don’t feel confident in your own abilities, consider working with a specialized animal trainer and behaviorist to get your dog to where you’d like him or her to be.

Termite Detection Dogs

Termite Dogs Trained for Sale

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Termite Detection Detection Dogs

Training Dogs and Handlers for the Detection of Termites

Termite Detection Dogs – Termite Dogs – Termite Sniffer Dogs

Termite detection dog training and supply is another service provided by The K9 Centre. We have developed a realistic training approach for dogs and handlers that utilises standard inspection practices along with thorough and proven dog training techniques to develop a canine that is accurate and consistent in the detection of the presence of live termites.

“Due to the termite dogs keen sense of smell, a properly trained termite dog can detect termites behind walls making them closer to 95 to 97% accurate.” Research from the Entomology Dept. of University of Florida* has shown that properly trained termite dog teams are at least three times more accurate than human inspectors. Even the best termite inspector can’t see through walls. But a termite detection dog doesn’t need to, he can smell live termites through the wall and detect live termites before they have time to do so much damage to a structure that it can be visually detected by a human. Termite Dogs don’t need to see termites; they can smell them, through drywall, concrete, paneling and all other building materials. It has been proven by team after team that a termite dog is the best termite finding and business building tool on the market for the Pest Control Industry.
*Journal of Economic Entomology 96(4):1259-1266(2003)

Can Dogs Detect Termites?


The human race likes dogs not just for companionship, but for their stunning senses. It’s an everyday occurrence seeing dogs at the airport, guiding a blind person across the road or working alongside house inspectors in the pursuit of termites.

The damage these tiny critters can cause is worth millions of dollars in repairs. They are sneaky wood-munchers who could bring a home right to the ground. Termite dogs are the ghost-busters of the modern age, as they rid a home of an unseen entity. The beauty of woofers on the job is they can sniff out the bugs then send in exterminators to clean up the house. Are you ready to check out termite dogs in action?

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Signs a Dog Can Hear Termites

Dogs are outstanding in everything they do and we are the lucky ones who discovered how cool they are. Their senses are finely tuned and can hone in on the most peculiar things. Who would have thought a pooch could smell a DVD or stacks of cash? They continue to amaze us with their impressive abilities and companionable natures. If you are a dog lover, this story of termite trouble could make you look in awe at your Beagle or Spaniel.

When folks are looking to fix up old houses, one of the key factors to take into consideration is termite damage. This can be the difference between buying a house to renovate or moving onto the next prospect. These tenacious termites are chewing up homes across the world, with homeowners oblivious to their destructive roommates.

A former trainer of dogs for the police force found out the hard way how termites can terrorize a home. Even though his new house had been signed off as termite free, he found a nest that warranted further investigation. Turns out the original inspector who issued the “termite free,” certificate, could not be held accountable as the area of concern was inaccessible.

This led to an idea and new company named TADD or (Termite and Ant Detection Dogs). Beagles were the dog of choice, trained to smell and sniff out termites in buildings, boats, and homes.

Beagles are classic scent hounds with top tracking abilities while being small enough to get under houses and into tight spaces. Robert Outman, an expert animal behaviorist and creator of this inventive business, says the Beagles love their work and get really pumped when they find a termite infestation.

You’re likely to see a “Termite Beagle,” running from room to room and underneath the house. Their heads turn from side to side with tail held high, as they listen for the rustling, rattling sound. All senses are on termite alert as they pace around an area, sniffing for the scent. Once they find a termite or ant nest, their tails are wagging with delight as Beagles have sniffing in their blood. A reward is anything from a rolled up white towel (K9’s reward for a job well done), favorite toy, or edible treat. Beagles love to please so they are perfect for this kind of work.

Body Language

  • Alert
  • Listening
  • Wag tail
  • Pacing
  • Sniffing
  • Head turning
  • Tail up

Other Signs

  • Staring at the wall or floor
  • Running under homes
  • Giving a trained alert behavior

History of Beagles as Termite Detector Dogs

Beagles have a cool history as dedicated detector dogs and owners of a masterful sense of smell. Those long, floppy ears not only look cute, but they can trap a scent and pass it on up to their nose.

Ancient Beagles were first seen in Greece over a thousand years ago and were primarily used for their hunting skills. By the 8 th century, these hare-sniffing hounds were known as the “St Hare Hound” and then selectively bred to create the Talbot Hound.

This gives you an idea how hands-on humans were in the genetic revolution of dogs, as stepping forward a few centuries, we find William the Conqueror taking a shine to the Beagle’s ancestors and transporting them back to merry-old England. King William then donned his scientist’s cap and got busy with DNA, breeding the Talbot Hound with a Greyhound to initiate more speed.

The Southern Hound was born and existed up until the 19 th century when it became extinct. Pocket Beagles, a favorite of British royals met the same fate. Their name was inspired by their size, as they could fit into the pockets of hunters and then be let loose to chase prey through the bush, where bigger mutts were unable to go. To add to the confusion around this time, all hunting dogs were referred to as Beagles.

Mankind’s desire to create the perfect dog for hunting rabbit and hare saw the Southern Hound and the North Country Beagle emerge as the perfect fit until their paths were to cross as foxhunting became the sport of the aristocracy.

These dogs were then bred with a Foxhound to achieve the ultimate hunting mutt. Mankind was still not satisfied with two extinctions and a myriad of inter-breeding began to then fashion the Honeywood’s Beagle, which eventually also became extinct in the 1960’s.

More breeding followed, and luckily, in the late 1800’s Beagle fans were determined there would be no more extinctions – possibly why the Beagle club was formed in 1890. There was more breeding as the world fell in love with this floppy-eared, friendly dog and eventually, an official Beagle breed was stamped with a certificate of authenticity.

From wild wolves came Beagle, our popular, detector dogs with super-star sniffing powers. Their journey from ancient times to modern day has been a genetic whirlwind. Their sniffing prowess is possibly their greatest asset, but let’s not forget their ability to hear termites through walls!

Science of Dogs Detecting Termites

Beagles are renowned for their sniffing savvy and have more scent receptors than other breeds of dog. According to Pet Helpful, Beagles have around 225 million receptors while the larger German Shepherd has the same. Both woofers are beaten out by the infamous Bloodhound, that walks through the kennel door with a proud 300 million. Still, the Beagle is up there with the world’s best sniffers.

They are also in the elite when it comes to hearing. Most mutts can hear between 40 and 60,000 Hertz and move their ears to pick up the direction of an incoming sound. Woofers have a mammoth hearing range – ideal for listening to the unique banging sound a termite makes. Nothing gets by the Beagle, as they hone in on termites feasting on the drywall in your home.

Training a Dog to Detect Termites

Training a Beagle to hear and sense termites starts at eight weeks of age. By the time they are 8-10 months, they are beginning their jobs as “Termite Dogs.”

The Los Angeles Times tells the sniffing story of Daryll, whose been detecting these creepy crawler’s for over 4 years and hasn’t faltered once. Daryll was trained by TADD services and has inspected around 3,500 properties. When this Californian Beagle gets to the age of eight, he will be retired to his handler.

There are a number of training programs available, so you can set up your own termite-detecting dog business. They teach a prospective client how to choose the right dog and how to detect a certain odor. K9- University runs classes to teach pest controllers how to bring a dog into their business.

In general, a termite detector dog is trained with classical conditioning using boxes or cans. This mode of thought was invented by Russian scientist, Ivan Pavlov, who discovered dogs would salivate before they were given food and realized this could be used to influence a behavior. When Pavlov rang a bell, his study dogs would salivate. Now the smell of termites replaces the bell and food rewards are given when the dog gets it right.

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