Biscuit the beagle wins by a nose when it comes to sniffing out unwanted guests who can eat you out of house and home.
She is a $15,000 termite hunter owned by Wollongong pest controller Paul Hosey who runs Billy Lane Pest Control Services.
While it was a lot to pay for an edge in the market, Mr Hosey did the research before he went ahead.
"Dogs are said to be 98 per cent accurate but I still back her up with electronic tracking machines," he said.
"A dog will go through a whole house in about three minutes."
Mr Hosey said it was reasonably simple to detect termites by an inspection under the house but they could easily be missed if, for example, the entry points were covered by obstructions, particularly on concrete slab houses.
"That's where a dog is a real advantage because they are trained to work off odour and not sight."
"The worst-affected home I've worked on was in Coniston because by the time I got to it the damage bill was up to about $50,000," he said.
Mr Hosey, who is the only Illawarra pest controller to use a canine, said termite-detecting dogs like Biscuit underwent rigorous training.
"Most home owners find it fascinating just to watch Biscuit work," he said.
Mr Hosey teamed up with Biscuit two years ago and said she had paid for herself in the first six months through quarantine work that involved sniffing out drywood termites on boats that came into port.
One of the challenges in working with dogs was the animal could try to trick the handler to get food rewards.
"That's why you must constantly work your dog and understand its behaviour to ensure that doesn't happen," Mr Hosey said.
Biscuit works about one day a week in winter but with summer coming on, that will increase to about three days.
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