All the Ways Smart Tech Can Keep Your Pets From Escaping

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When it comes to how smart technology can help manage your pets, you have options: There are smart feeders, smart pet cameras, and even smart pet tracker collars. Generally, I’m a little more lo-fi around my dog, but I adopted a doberman named Blueberry a few months ago, and despite the cozy offerings here, she has taken to going on neighborhood walkabouts in the last few weeks. With a six-foot fence surrounding my yard, I couldn’t figure out how she was escaping: Smart tech to the rescue. 

Wireless security cameras really carry the heavy work here because they can be installed anywhere. I mounted mine to a 4×4 post I leaned against the house and moved around as needed. There are only two exit points to the yard, so I had to work my way backwards. I positioned cameras facing down the sides of the house to narrow down which side she was using. From there, I moved the cameras to the side of the house being used. I was able to figure out she was going over a fence using this method, but I still couldn’t figure out how. After repositioning the camera over the fence itself, I had my answer in less than 24 hours. 

During this time, when I knew my dog was getting out, I set up a routine using IFTTT so each time the camera had motion activity, the lights in my house would flash on and off. This would tell me to immediately go to the front to call her back in. Luckily, my dog had little interest in wandering, just spider-monkeying up some chain link along the side of my house.

It would take a few days to remove this four-foot stretch of chain link fence between my house and the neighbor and construct a proper-eight foot fence Blueberry couldn’t climb. In the meanwhile, I left the alerts on for me, and used IFTTT to create a few alerts for my dog. Namely, I used a vibration sensor from Aqara on the fence and added a smart siren. I enclosed both in Tupperware to keep them from getting wet, and mounted the containers to the top of the fence. I set up an automation so anytime the vibration sensor went off, the speaker would set off a quick, loud alarm. I kept the automation simple so it would be fast. The loud noise acted as a behavior correction device, so Blueberry would drop off the fence. I set the automation to only run 7 a.m. through 11 p.m., so I wouldn’t disturb neighbors. At night, I set the camera to blast her with light if it detected motion. 

While I was able to solve this problem using some routines and deduction, a solid way to ensure you always know if your dog leaves the yard is with a smart tracker on their collar. These generally have logic built into the app to set a geo-circle for your pet and alert you when they leave it.

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