You do everything in the world for your dog. First, you bought them the most comfortable dog bed, so they sleep soundly every night. Then you spent weeks researching ingredients and companies to make sure you’re buying the best dog food (which your kiddo may or may not deign to eat). Every toy that comes into the house meets your exacting standards. And leaving to go to your job to pay for all of those top-of-the-line luxuries breaks your heart. You KNOW your dog misses you terribly. Why isn’t there a way for you to interact with them during the day? Guess what – there is! Dog cameras allow you to not only monitor your pup throughout those long hours away but to engage with them, too!
When you leave the house, you have no idea what your dog’s getting up to. Do they lay on the floor, bored without you? Are they happily playing with the toys you left out? Or have they started a barking serenade, courtesy of the squirrels (or falling leaves) outside? Maybe a combination or even none of the above; some dogs snooze the entire day. (My husband and I both work from home, and our Greyhound spends the day sleeping on the couch, which is typical for the breed but still – riveting)
Whether you’re working on curbing unwanted behaviors or simply wish to check in with your beloved kiddo, dog cameras open up a window on a previously unseen world. With a simple check into an app, you can figure out what your dog is doing – or not doing.
Security vs. Dog Cameras
Before the advancement of dog cameras, pet owners relied on security cameras for those checks home. This still works fine, though there ARE limitations.
Security cameras allow you to peek in on your dog throughout the day, and some systems have setups for multiple rooms of the house. However, you’re limited to the image on your phone (sometimes without sound). It’s a quick way to make sure your dog isn’t destroying the couch, but the function ends there.
Dog cameras have added ways for you to interact with your dog. You still get the same camera views as before, but now there are bonuses such as:
- Activity alerts
- Bark detectors
- Doggie selfies
- Laser pointers
- Treat dispensers
- Two-way microphones
Suddenly, an entirely new world appears, making that little camera more than just a window into how your dog’s spending their day.
Choosing a Dog Camera
There are a few kinds of dog cameras available. The most basic allows you to check in with your pup, chat with them, or warn them the pillow destruction needs to stop. Many allow you to toss out treats – one of the most popular features for dog cameras. Others have laser pointers to engage in with your dog (just keep in mind you need to work at SOME point). And then there are the newest options (they’re still working out the kinks), which are embedded into toys such as tennis balls, letting you control the toy for a game of chase. It’s tempting to opt for this and waste your workday turning your phone into a remote control, but keep in mind, the newest models aren’t always the best. (And do you want a camera your dog can CHEW?)
Key Features of Dog Cameras
When you set out to add a dog camera to your home, keep the following in mind. After all, this WILL be an investment:
- Two-Way Communication: Whether you want to give your dog a chance to see you or just hear you, communication is key. This is what sets dog cameras apart from security cameras.
- Video Quality: Odds are, even if you’re a video game fan, you don’t want to squint at your phone and have visions of the old Super Mario games. Choose a camera with top video options.
- 720p is the BOTTOM of the line. Anything lower is getting into super-grainy territory.
- 1080p is ideal picture quality. You’ll get usable selfie material from this resolution.
- 4K HD is the ultimate in professional video recording. If you’re not worried about sparing expense, you’ll have no trouble picking out every whisker on your dog’s head – from the other side of the room.
- Wi-Fi Capability: There’s no getting around this one. You want to check in from your phone, so you need to connect the dog camera to Wi-Fi.
- Alerts: Want to know when your little barker is starting up? Or are you concerned about intruders? A lot of dog cameras send their app notifications about BOTH. Some even record quick snippers to go with the alert. If that’s a concern for you, check for this addition.
- Treats: Do you want to reward good behavior? (Say, settling down when you signal to stop barking?) Or maybe just send a snack in the middle of the day? Treat dispensers come with a lot of dog cameras.
- Price: You can easily break the budget on a dog camera, especially if you get all of the bells and whistles. Consider your budget carefully and prioritize the things that matter the most.
As with all Wi-Fi-connected devices, dog cameras come with a special warning. There IS the possibility that your account can end up hacked by someone. ALWAYS ensure you’re using encrypted passwords that rank “Very Strong” and are different from every other password you use in your day-to-day life. When you take time out to use the app, don’t call attention to yourself. Dog cameras are great for interacting with your beloved pet, but you don’t want to advertise when you’re away from home – or that you might have a timid dog versus a ferocious guard dog. Practice safe cybersecurity.
The Best Dog Cameras
Maybe you’re a worried Dog Mom or Dog Dad determined to make sure your furry baby stays happy and engaged in positive behaviors throughout the day. Or you’re working on curbing a less-than-ideal behavior with your canine before that neighbor complains one more time. Perhaps you simply want to keep tabs on how things are going in the house when you’re not there. Dog cameras are flexible enough for every situation. Whenever you get that twinge inside, pull up the app and take a peek. You’ll get a glimpse into your pup’s daily life. And the interaction will help strengthen the bond you already have. It’s a win-win!
Do you want the ability to check the entire room from one spot? Conico’s dog camera comes with a resolution of 1080p, 350-degree panning, 100-degree tilting, and a whopping 8x zoom! And when the lights go out, the night vision remains stunningly clear up to 32 feet away. NOTHING’s going to escape your keen eyes. The two-way microphone lets you talk to your dog, and it has a built-in noise canceller to prevent unwanted interference. You get alerts for barking (okay, it’s a sound alert, but it works for barking) and for motion, and the built-in AI system goes to work, following the movement throughout the room. Best of all, you can save all of the recordings onto the Cloud or an SD card – no subscription required!
Downsides? Unfortunately, there’s no treat launcher with this dog camera. You DO get to chat with your pup, though, so it’s a nice compromise between a standard security camera and the more expensive options.
Furbo does a little bit of everything, making it one of the most popular dog cameras. You start with that oh-so-necessary 1080p resolution, with a bonus of a 4x zoom, the ability to pan 160 degrees, and even night vision. (You’ll DEFINITELY find your pup!) Then they add in a bonus that if your dog looks straight into the camera, it snags an adorable selfie for you! You get a two-way microphone so the pair of you can chat any time. And when it comes to alerts, you get THREE kinds: motion whenever someone enters the room, activity when your kiddo moves around, and barking if your pup starts up. (Don’t worry – you set the sensitivity levels) Finally, you get the all-important treat launcher – letting you toss out a treat whenever you desire.
The downsides? The Furbo comes in on the expensive side – not too surprising with all of those options. And, unhappily, if you want ALL of the functions, there’s an additional subscription required.
Nothing’s worse than a false alarm. Netvue programmed their dog camera with a sophisticated artificial intelligence that can tell the difference between harmless leaves falling outside the window and genuine movement in the room. The camera features a 1080p resolution, an amazing 100-degree view, a 360-degree pan and tilt, and 8x zoom. In low-light conditions, the night vision mode switches on and works up to 32 feet away. Two-way microphones keep the interaction flowing throughout the day or night without a problem. You’ll receive motion alerts from the AI, letting you know when it’s time to get concerned. There’s a slot that holds a 128G SD card (enough to hold TEN DAYS of recordings), or, if you pay for the subscription, you can take part in their Amazon Web Storage.
So what are the downsides? Unfortunately, no treat launcher here. It also doesn’t come with a sound alert, so it won’t work for barkers. If you have a mellow dog you want to peek in on now and then, though, it’s one of the better options out there.
Does everyone in the family want the chance to check in on the dog? Pawbo+ is the answer. Up to EIGHT people can check in on the beloved family pet at the same time! The camera stretches out to a full 130-degree view, and it has a 4x zoom capability. Everyone will get that two-way microphone for chatting/barking, too. For added fun, there’s a built-in laser pointer. You can activate it for spontaneous games, or you can pre-program it to come on. (This may or may not appeal to dogs, but if you also have cats, they’ll adore it!) And, of course, you get the handy treat launcher.
Downsides? The camera’s resolution sits at that 720p minimum. It’s also fixed, so you can’t pan around the room. You’ll want to find a good spot in the corner that captures most of the room. A few people also struggled with the Pawbo+’s setup. If technology isn’t your forte, make sure you have a techie friend on stand-by.
The PetCube Bites 2 offers a unique dog camera, just for the person working on training away unwanted behaviors. The treat hopper holds up to 1.5 pounds, and it offers three different sizes of funnel, letting you change the treat variety as your dog progresses away from the habits you disliked. You can even vary the distance the treat is thrown, boosting your kiddo’s exercise (a little bit). The 1080p camera resolution includes a 4x zoom and a full 160-degree view, with a bonus of night viewing. The two-way microphone lets you communicate with your pup OR with your Alexa – you know, in case you wanted to switch on some soothing music. You also get two alerts: one notice for activity and one for any motion in the area. And you get a one-year warranty against defects – just in case.
The downsides? This particular dog camera requires a USB plug to remain charged and active, which is a bummer. And while it records nifty ten-second clips of activity, after four hours, it deletes them – UNLESS you have a subscription. And if you’re hoping to skip out on that subscription, it’s needed for the handy alerts you probably want. Also, the camera doesn’t pan.
Skymee’s dog camera takes interaction to the next level. The lights on the base unit change between yellow and blue (dogs CAN see blue), letting your dog know when you’re checking in. This is another dog camera that supports up to eight people, letting the entire family take part in the fun. The 1080p camera comes with 4x zoom, 130-degree wide view, and night vision. So no matter what someone’s schedule, the view stays clear. If you have Alexa, you can also ask it to switch on the camera (what’s one more “eye” on things?). You’ll receive motion alerts whenever something’s going on, letting you know to take a look. The treat launcher has distance and speed control, keeping your dog on their toes (just make sure you’ve cleared any obstacles before anyone gets out of control).
So what are the downsides? While the indicator light is nifty, it doesn’t do much good if your dog’s not in the room. And, once again, the camera won’t pan around the room. You’ll also need a minimum Wi-Fi of 2.4GHz for proper function.
If you’re particularly tech-savvy and enjoy all things automated, then the WOPet Smart Camera is the dog camera for you. The 1080p resolution delivers clear images you’ll love to snap and share with everyone. The camera also offers a 4x zoom and a 123-degree wide-angle view, and when the light drops, night vision kicks in. The two-way microphone is designed to catch every little sound, ensuring your dog will hear you, even if they’re not in the room. The treat launcher works with the incorporated app, OR you can link the camera with Alexa and set a treat flying that way. Even better, you can use the camera to ask Alexa to work with your dog’s automatic feeder to set out breakfast, lunch, or dinner!
Downsides? This dog camera comes with Wi-Fi specifications: you need a MINIMUM of 2.4GHz, or it won’t function, and some people found 5GHz to be the magic threshold. You also can’t pan the camera, so choose your placement carefully.
All of us with dogs wonder what our kiddos get up to when we’re not around. Are they bored? Do they race around the house like cyclones? Have they moved a single foot the entire day? Is the cat REALLY the one who knocked the vase down? Dog cameras allow us brief glimpses into the world of our fuzzy loved ones. And with interactive possibilities, we have a chance to remind them we’re thinking of them – no matter how far away we may be.
Just don’t forget you ARE supposed to be working – at some point. You DO need to continue supporting them in the lifestyle they’ve come to expect, after all.