Home security for your dog

Do you worry when she’s home alone? Today’s high tech security systems help protect her from intruders — and let you check on her whenever you want.

Marg was shocked when she learned a house down the street had been broken into. The perpetrators were still at large, according to the police, and perhaps planning another crime. Marg and her husband, who have three Shelties, were planning to visit relatives during the holidays and had hired a pet sitter to look after the trio – but now they were worried about the dogs being alone in the house at night. They decided to cancel their trip. Whenever you’re away from home, whether it’s during the holidays or during the week, you want to know that your house, possessions – and most importantly, your human and animal family members – are safe from harm. Unlike people, animals are particularly helpless in a home emergency such as a break-in or fire because they can’t phone for help or open a window to escape. One way to help keep your canine safe when you’re away is with a home security system.

5 things a security system can offer

Today’s home security systems involve a lot more than just an alarm that rings through to the company’s headquarters or the police department in case of a break-in. These advanced high tech wireless systems not only protect what is most important to you, but also use smartphones, allow remote access, and monitor almost everything in the house, including your dog’s well-being. Here are some of the available features.

1. Remote door locks

“With apps, clients can have integrated door locks – no more handing out keys to pet sitters or neighbors,” says Brad Morehead of LiveWatch, a home security company. “Each authorized person has his own code. You receive a message that tells you who entered or left your house, based on their personal number. That’s how we found out that our dog was only being walked for 15 minutes by his sitter, instead of the 30 minutes we’d asked for.” Doors can also be unlocked and relocked remotely using your smartphone.

2. Nanny cams

Cameras give you a way to periodically check on your dog from your office, hotel room or friend’s house. They can be set up wherever your dog spends most of his time. Nanny cams are especially helpful for people who have dogs with separation anxiety. Instead of worrying about the dog all day, you can use the nanny cam to show you how long he stays anxious and if he is able to calm himself.

Cameras can also send a photo to your smartphone of who is entering and leaving your house. It’s reassuring to know that the neighborhood teen hired to feed and walk your dog entered the house alone, and not with four friends carrying sixpacks. Cameras will also capture a photo of any sneak thief climbing through the window.

3. Home monitoring

A state-of-the-art security system helps you monitor your home’s systems.

  • If the furnace gives up the ghost when it’s near zero outside, or the air conditioner fails on a stifling summer day, your dog could be at risk. Companies like ADT and LiveWatch monitor temperature changes in common areas and alert homeowners to a problem. “Auto alert clients receive a text, email and phone call from a live person, not an automated voice, to advise if the air conditioner or furnace has failed or if the basement is flooding,” says Brad.
  • “We also monitor carbon monoxide levels,” he adds. Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless, but if the monitor detects unsafe levels, an alarm sounds in the home and the company is notified to send assistance.
  • Security companies can monitor leaky or broken pipes and alert to basement floods, which can be distressing to your dog as well as damaging to carpets and furnishings.
  • You can use a smartphone app to remotely adjust the temperature in your home. For example, in case of a cold front and a sudden drop in temperature, you can remotely raise the thermostat a few degrees to keep Sparky warm.

4. Heat detectors

Smoke detectors have been in use for a long time, but they’re not appropriate for all areas of the home, such as crawl spaces, attics or the kitchen, where even a burnt piece of toast can set off the alarm. Security companies now suggest heat detectors instead of smoke detectors for the kitchen. A heat detector won’t sound the alarm for burned bread, but will for burning grease. Heat detectors as part of a security system are designed to alert to a rapid rise in temperature that could signal a fire.

5. Motion detectors

It used to be that motion detectors and animals were a bad combination. Animals would set off the alarm unless you set it to “stay” instead of “away” – which disabled the motion feature and defeated the whole purpose. Now, sensitivity can be set to allow dogs 80 pounds or less to move freely around the house without setting off the motion detector.

Home safety is a high priority, not only when you’re traveling, but also day to day. True, a security system can be a costly investment – but your dog’s well-being, and the peace of mind that goes with it, are priceless.