Ever wonder what your dog gets up to when you at work or out for the day?
For those with new young dogs, you might be wondering if the puppy is coping when it stays home by itself.
For those with the newly adopted dogs, you might be wondering if your dog feels like it has been abandoned again.
For those with more than one dog, you might be wondering whether the dogs are getting on fine together or if they are annoying each other.
And for those with dogs that have behavioural issues, you might be wondering if things are getting better or worse!
So how do we get answers??
Well there is a solution and that is spying on your dog through CCTV. We no longer use cameras to just detect burgulars, we now use them to see what our dogs get up to! And don’t think you can fool your dog by hiding in a bedroom or behind a blind; they are way smarter than that!
What has sparked my need to write this blog?
Case study No 1. Well late last year I was out at a house call because my client had received an angry, threatening letter from an anonymous neighbour about her barking dog.There is nothing nice about getting one of those letters, especially as you don’t see or hear what the neighbours are talking about; your dog is perfect when you are home! There was no point guessing what was going on, we needed evidence so we discussed how to set up a spy camera. The owners got organised and sure enough, the reason unfolded and in fact they saw that the dog was literally being bombarded and attacked by feral birds once the owners left for work. They were coming in for the food and dive bombing the frightened dog in his own yard. He barked when he saw them sitting on the fence hoping it would deter them. Had we not have gotten that footage, we would never have known what was really going on and now we had evidence of the cause and from here, a solution was developed. Here are some more cases where through spying, we made some pretty interesting discoveries and it might suddenly alert you that might be dealing with something very similar.
Case study No 2. I worked with another barking dog many years ago, neighbours complained, they put the anonymous letter in the mailbox, once again threatening to ‘do something’ if it did not stop. The dog had also started to rush at one of the fences in the yard and was getting very agitated but there was nothing there when the owner was home. I knew this dog well and he was not one to bark much and the only way we could work out why he barked was to get the spy camera on. What did we discover?? Some very badly behaved children behind the back fence were tossing debris and stuff on their shed including their cat! This cat would meow in desperation as it could not get down, the dog was getting freaked out by flying objects on the shed roof so it would bark to try to make it stop. Whilst we could not control the neighbours, the owner could control her dog’s behaviour through her spy cam and whenever she was alerted to him barking, she could call him through the device and tell him to go back to his mat to settle! This eventually broke the habit.
Case study No 3. I did a private consult where we could not work out why the dog was always so underweight. Blood tests checked out fine, the dog was on a high grade food and was being fed more than enough, poops were normal so digestion was not an issue, it was not exercised excessively according to the owner and yet this dog was super skinny but super muscly at the same time, kind of like a marathon runner. What did the spy camera reveal?? We could see within minutes of the owners leaving, that this dog would go into a state of panic and rather than bark, it would pace silently along the fence line over and over again, for hours, until the owners rolled up in the driveway and then it would go to the back door and collapse with exhaustion. Because it was so still, the owners thought it was relaxed and sleeping! This dog suffered from extreme anxiety and when left alone, would be on the move the whole time, burning loads of calories in the process. Once the anxiety was addressed, the dog stopped pacing and the weight started to climb and we now had a much happier, healthier and settled dog.
Case study No 4. Here we had a classic case of mistaken identity. Yet another barking dog issue, neighbours complained about ongoing barking, all day long. The owner swore her dog never barked, other neighbours never heard it so we thought it was odd that only one complained. Once again the only way to know for sure was to set up a spy camera and sure enough, we soon realised that not only was this dog not barking, it was sound asleep all day long. The barking came from another house further up the road but it echoed and sounded like it came from next door. This video footage was going to be used as evidence in court to prove that this dog was not responsible for barking all day!
Case study No 5. I had a lovely couple in classes recently who desperately wanted to bring their second dog to lessons but found it very difficult because their first dog has some serious attachment issues and could not be left home alone or she would bark the place down and become quite frantic. So they would bring her to class with them and leave one parent in the car while the other attended the lesson! This was just not going to work as both parents wanted to be in class and it was not addressing the attachment issues so we went over some strategies to make the first dog feel better about being home alone. The owners set up some spy cameras and on her first night left home alone, we could see she was barking and not totally comfortable yet.We persevered and the following week, we had one very quiet dog, sound asleep in her crate and it was nice to see the owners back to enjoying their class, knowing their other dog was no longer fretting! Rather than wonder what was going on, we could all clearly see it!
Let’s look at the benefits of spying on our dogs and who it can help!
Pup owners – we need to see if the pups are coping with being left at home alone. We want to see they are eating, sleeping, drinking, playing with their toys and settling in, instead of fretting. Because pups are so new at this, we need to ensure we set them up to get it right from the beginning and then we can make changes along the way if necessary before bad habits kick in. We want to avoid and prevent issues such as boredom and separation anxiety which often leads to chronic barking, destruction and escaping.
Adopted dog owners – we need to see if the dogs are coping since being adopted. Sometimes when dog are in shelters or with foster carers, they don’t behave like they usually would because they feel lost, displaced and stressed. They are usually very quiet in the shelter because they are shut down. Once adopted, within two weeks when they settle into their new homes, we start to see what they are really like and sometimes even the real reason they were surrendered. Having a spy camera set up in the early stages can help us see if things are going well when they are left alone or if they are starting to panic again where destructive behaviour, escaping and barking can be seen.
Multiple dog owners – for owners with more than one dog, we need to ensure they are all getting on well and not fighting or pushing each other all day long. Sometimes on spy cams we see one dog is having a blast of a time but the other just wants to retreat to a corner and rest. This mismatch can sometimes then lead to one dog displaying aggression in order to control the more rowdy dog and then from here, tension develops between the two. Watching how they get on when left alone can ensure things do not get out of control. We also want to see the dogs are sharing the yard, sharing the water and sleeping area and actually enjoying being in each other’s company.
Anxious dogs – for owners of anxious and nervous dogs, we need to ensure again, they are coping when left alone. In particular, if the dog has seen a Veterinary Behaviourist or behavioural trainer and has begun treatment for the anxiety, we want to see that the program implemented is actually working. Making changes slowly for these dogs is critical as we can then see what change is responsible for which behaviour and we can only get this information if we watch them on a spy camera. For dogs with separation anxiety in particular, we want to see that the dog is beginning to self soothe and rest over the day rather than pace or fret. It can be life changing for these dogs and seeing this on camera is so relieving!
Barking dogs – as you saw in the examples above, one of the main reasons we use spy cam is to keep an eye out on our dogs to see if they are barking or not. We are often oblivious to it when we are at work and they do stop as soon as they hear our car arrive, so we need to know what goes when we are not home. If complaints have been made already, we need to see that the training is reducing it and stopping it. This can often also alleviate the stress of the neighbour because they now know you are trying to fix the issue. With spy cameras we also get to see what the dog is barking at and then come up with a solution. It could be as simple as getting rid of the feral birds or chatting to the neighbours about the children or letting the dog come inside during the day but without knowing what is really going on, we cannot come up with solutions.
Escaping dogs – for the owners of the wandering dogs, we need to see if the dog is escaping because it is bored or if it is jumping the fence because it is distressed. We also need to see where it is escaping from so the yard can be secured to prevent any further jumps. For dogs that are bored, they often seem calm on the videos, they go to a spot where they can get a bit of a boost, they calmly jump over and then they go off on an adventure. For the distressed dogs, we often see pacing and drooling first, followed by erratic behaviour, then frantic jumping of the fence only to find they are sitting at the front door! These dogs often have separation anxiety and all they want is to be inside closer to you. Again spy cameras can ascertain which cause it is as the remedy would be different for each case.
Destructive dogs – this one is always an interesting one because we find that about 50% of the dogs that destroy are usually just bored and have nothing to do when left on their own. As mentioned above, the bored dog is looking for something to do, it seeks out something to rip up or tug on or drag around or chew on and there is never a sense of desperation to it. They actually look like they are having fun when they do it. Digging and grabbing clothes off the line are classic examples of bored dogs and spy cameras can reveal whether this is the case. For distressed dogs, the destructive behaviour is often frantic, the dog is pacing, hyperventilating and it appears stressed, it does not eat its food during the day and is exhausted when you get home. Video evidence can help reveal whether your dog is bored or seriously stressed. For the bored dogs, it might be as simple as improving the environmental enrichment, getting a dog walker in or looking at day care. For the destructive anxious dog, you would need to consider seeing a specialist to address the anxiety first.
Cheering us up!
I have to add this is because sometimes we just have one of those days where everything is not going to plan, or we feel a bit blah and what better way to cheer up than to have a short break at work, tap into your spycam and watch your dog having fun or snoozing at home. Dogs cheer us up, that is undeniable so we may as well take advantage of it, even if they are not in cuddle range, we can still enjoy the moment while we watch them.
So as you can see, there are so many benefits to spying on your dog. You get feedback, you get good old evidence, you get good insight into what is causing the issue if there is any and you can present this information to your trainer or specialist. Evidence is key when it comes to developing a plan as guessing just wastes time and gets you nowhere.
How do we organise spy cameras?
There are many apps now that can be purchased or even downloaded for free on multiple devices. Some even have the technology where you can speak directly to them.
You can use devices such as iPads, laptops, surveillance cameras, smart phones, iPhones, etc. It just needs an inbuilt camera and a microphone.
Some of the apps we recommend are:
- Presence Surveillance
- Clever Dog
- Swann have multiple apps
- Go Pro have multiple apps
- Telstra also now have apps and surveillance set ups that can be added to your home phone bill
Most can be downloaded for free or have a small fee attached but the information you can gather from it is so worthwhile.
- The apps are downloaded on both the devices so that they can talk to each other over the day.
- Ensure your device at home has power going to it all day so if you use a laptop or iPad, it needs to be plugged in to power or the battery will be drained.
- Ensure your home device is not sitting in a position where the dog can reach it, grab it or chew on it!
- These apps also allow the days to be recorded so if you cannot tap in over the day, you can go home, rewind and replay and watch what has been happening.
- Most of the apps have settings where you can be alerted when your dog barks or moves which means you can see immediately what is potentially triggering a behaviour.
- Lastly, most have the ability to allow you to talk to your dog through the microphone. If your dog is trained well enough under voice control, you might even be able to tell your dog to go back to bed and settle!
So I hope this has given you some ideas on how to work out what your furfriend is getting up to and also given you some insight as to how important it is to have the evidence that can ultimately be used to create a plan to help your dog.