I’ll admit to being one of those dog parents who sit in a cafe, phone in hand, remoting into our dog cameras and watching what the dogs are up to in our absence. Yes, they’re probably asleep but best to check. Our friends think we’re strange, but we assure them “it’s just to check on them”. Usually it’s not, our dogs are well behaved and it’s rare we leave them alone. But, to be honest, I miss them and beyond being a bit miffed the cafe doesn’t allow dogs – I like to see them.
Cameras for dogs come in all shapes and sizes. From standard cameras that connect to your wifi to more advanced ones with treat dispensers, PTZ’s and voice control – it’s hard to know which ones to pick.
However, before even getting to that stage – it’s a good idea to discuss what dog cameras are for and what they are not for.
In this guide we’ll discuss the benefits of dog cameras, where they should be placed, what works well (and what doesn’t), what to consider when leaving your dog alone and what to look out for.
Before we do this, we should begin with the basics.
What Are Dog Cameras?
As you have probably already guessed, dog cameras are small devices that can be placed around your home, similar to CCTV. Unlike most CCTV however, these are usually small, moveable and only turned on when needed. They don’t need to record continuously, or even be left out. Most will fit in the palm of your hand and can be placed on shelves and tables easily.
Dog cameras will usually be AC powered, often using a USB connector, and will connect to most home WiFi’s like any other wireless device.
Modern cameras will come with a downloadable app for your Android or Apple phone which can be paired with the camera – this may involve setting up an account; though not always.
Types of Dog Cameras
I’m not going to dig too deep into the specifics of cameras for dogs – we’ll cover this at a later date, but here are some of the basics.
There are a few different types of dog cameras available on the market, each with its own set of features and benefits. Here is a look at some of the most popular options:
- Wi-Fi Cameras: These cameras connect to your home’s Wi-Fi network and allow you to monitor your dog from anywhere using your smartphone or tablet. Wi-Fi cameras typically offer HD video quality and two-way audio, so you can see and hear your dog. Some models even allow you to dispense treats remotely! We’ll discuss this more when we cover smart cameras.
- Webcams: While not as feature-rich as Wi-Fi cameras, webcams can be a budget-friendly option for monitoring your dog. Most webcams offer basic features like video and audio streaming, but some higher-end models also offer night vision and motion detection.
- Surveillance Cameras: If you’re looking for a more comprehensive security solution, surveillance cameras can be used to monitor your home, both inside and out. Many modern surveillance cameras offer features like two-way audio, night vision, and motion detection, making them ideal for keeping an eye on your furry friend.
- GPS Trackers: While not a camera it’s worth mentioning here, GPS trackers can be used to monitor your dog’s location and activity level. Some GPS trackers even offer real-time tracking, so you can always know where your dog is. Why put this in a camera guide you may ask? If you have a dog who could escape whilst you’re away – this could be an additional aid to locating your dog.
- Smart Cameras: The latest type of camera on the market, smart cameras offer a variety of features that go beyond just monitoring your dog. Many smart cameras come equipped with facial recognition, so you can get alerts when your dog is in the frame. Other popular features include two-way audio, night vision, and motion detection. I’ve separated these out from standard wifi cameras because they can include:
- PTZ (Pan-Tilt-Zoom): This is the ability to move the lens remotely from an app (up, down, left, right). This can be particularly handy if you are trying to cover a large room but can’t find a spot that covers everything.
- Dual Cameras: This means connecting two (or more) cameras to the same account and being able to view multiple locations at once.
- Cloud (or Camera) Recording: This records the entire time the dog is away (you may be extra charged for this) or, more commonly, when your dog is moving about. Not only is this a nice memento, it’s also a good way to observe your dogs behavior when away.
- Camera Alerts: Motion detectors will alert your phone when your dog moves about.
- Two Way Audio: Often muted by default, if you need to hear what your dogs are up to (one of mine used to whine when left alone) you can turn this on. You can also speak to your dog through the camera – though this could have the undesired effect of upsetting them – so something to test before you do it.
- Feeders: These allow you to dispense treats to your dogs either manually or automated. It’s worth considering that though this may sound like a good idea – if your camera positioning involves putting the camera up high – this may be a false economy.
Where to Place a Dog Camera
You’ll know your dogs better than anyone, that includes where they tend to congregate when they’re lazing or up to mischief.
I, for example, use three cameras when I’m out. One I place in the bedroom on top of a wardrobe. This gives me a good view looking down and I can see most of the room.
The next camera I place on a shelf in the living room. This can see the sofa where they often sit. It’s a little tricky seeing some parts of the room from there – that’s where the PTZ feature comes in handy.
The third one, probably excessive for my needs, I have in the kitchen. They don’t usually go in there other than to get water – but it’s good to get the alert anyway.
Some people put the cameras down low – this can be a good idea when you’re using a combined feeder – as with everything it depends on your space and your dog.
Benefits of Dog Cameras
They can be used to watch dog behavior
In addition to watching your dog when away, you can also watch how your dog behaves. Not only can this help identify any behavioral issues (e.g. separation anxiety) but can help you plan for future training.
- They give you piece of mind
Even if you’re only out for a few minutes to get milk or grab a coffee – it can be good to know you can check in. Being able to see what your dog is up to and be alerted when they move can give you confidence that your dog is not having a miserable time while you’re out enjoying yourself.
- They’re good for testing the water
If you’re unsure about leaving your dog, you can monitor what they’re up to for short periods at first. This will help you decide if your 5 minutes can turn into 10 mins and so on.
- They can be a good security tool too
Even if you’re away for the weekend with your dog, they can be handy security cameras to leave running just in case.
Problems With Dog Cameras
Like all cameras which can be accessed remotely, they’re a great way of telling burglars that you’re not home if not configured properly. To avoid this, do some basic cybersecurity hygiene to keep your camera secure:
- Keep the camera (and phone) software up to date. Make sure you’ve downloaded and installed the latest firmware.
- Secure the camera. Use a strong password and make sure the admin account is not set to default. If there’s the option of changing the camera’s username (often admin) change that as well. As with all home wifi devices, also make sure your wireless router is locked down and not set to the default.
- Turn the camera off when not using it. Though once locked down it’s probably fine to keep running, if it doesn’t need to be on – turn it off – plus it saves electricity.
- They’re not Dog Sitters
You should never leave your dog alone for extended periods of time. This isn’t just because the dogs will get bored or may annoy your neighbors with their excessive barking (see Separation Anxiety) – but they can also hurt themselves through idleness. For example a bored dog may chew on their collar if you’ve left it on, or hurt himself on some furniture trying to entertain himself.
If you must leave a dog alone for extended period (e.g. work) consider hiring a dog walker to take them out once a day or ask someone you know to check in on them,
- Separation Anxiety in Dogs
Separation anxiety is a real and serious problem for many dogs. It can cause them a great deal of stress and anxiety, which can lead to destructive behaviors like chewing, digging, and barking. If your dog is showing signs of separation anxiety, it’s important to seek professional help so that you can keep your furry friend happy and healthy. Here’s what you need to know about separation anxiety in dogs.
What is separation anxiety?
Separation anxiety is a condition that affects dogs who become anxious when they are away from their guardians. One of my dogs would whine, cry and bark excessively when I left them alone for even a few minutes.
This can happen when they are left alone at home, or even when they are separated from their guardians during car rides or walks. Dogs with separation anxiety often display signs of distress like panting , whining, pacing, and barking. Some may even try to escape from their homes or yards in order to find their guardians.
What causes separation anxiety?
There is no single cause of separation anxiety. It is thought to be a combination of genetics, early experiences, and changes in routine. For example, a dog who was abandoned by his previous family (foster dogs for example) may be more likely to experience separation anxiety than one who has always been with his owner. Or, a dog who suddenly starts being left alone for long periods of time may develop separation anxiety if he wasn’t used to it before.
How is separation anxiety treated?
The goal of treatment for separation anxiety is to help your dog feel more comfortable when he is away from you. This can be done through a combination of behavior modification, training, and in some cases, medication.
With my dog, I tried doing very small bursts of absence at first (a couple of minutes) to see how she reacted. I’d reward her on returning and tried extending my absences. A camera was quite handy for this – as I’d often only be out on the street so I could return quickly. I also made sure all her favorite spots (our bed, her crate, the living room) were accessible to her as well as leaving out some toys. I also found walking her before leaving her alone helped massively get rid of that excess energy.
If you think your dog may be suffering from separation anxiety, talk to your veterinarian or a certified animal behaviorist. They can help you create a treatment plan that is right for your dog. With the right help, your dog can learn to enjoy being away from you and live a happy and healthy life.
We hope you found our dog camera guide helpful. There are many benefits to using a camera for your dog. They can help keep an eye on them when you’re not around, make sure they’re behaving while you’re out and even let you know if there is something wrong. Additionally, some cameras come with features like treat dispensers or PTZ’s that can further enrich your dog’s life while you are away.
- Generally, the best place to put a camera for your dog is somewhere where they spend most of their time – whether that be in the living room, kitchen or backyard. However, it’s important to remember that each home is different and what works well for one family may not work as well for another.
- When looking for a camera specifically designed for dogs, there are several factors you should consider. These include how wide the viewing angle is, whether it has night vision mode and if it records sound or not. You also need to decide if you want a basic model which just connects to wifi or an advanced model with additional features like PTZ and voice control.
- One thing to avoid when using a pet cam is leaving your animal unsupervised for too long periods of time as this could cause behavioral problems down the road. It’s also important not to use cameras as a replacement for proper vet care – if your pet seems sick or injured then always take them to the vet as soon as possible!
If you have any other stories, ideas or thoughts on dog cameras, please let us know in the comments section below.
- Dog Camera
Editor and Head Writer | K9Gadget Magazine
Having worked in the technology sector for many years – he now immerses himself in all things dogs. Writes about subjects ranging from dog food to canine psychology with a little bit of pup technology thrown in. He’s been writing for nearly 15 years on the topics he loves. Lives in London.