The Best Dog Surveillance Cameras

Getting the right camera to keep an eye on your dog can be tricky with so many cheap cameras available. But how do you know which will be good and what to look for? We’ll examine every angle of pet surveillance to bring you the full picture. From the best outdoor pet cameras for your dog house to dog crate cameras and surveillance. We’ve got you covered.

Pet Surveillance 101

In this photo a boy spies through a small hole.
A boy spies through a hole.

There are all kinds of reasons why you would want to set up either a dog house camera, yard camera or even a dog crate camera or kennel monitor. I can think of so many things that would be helpful to know about your dog when you aren’t around. And this became incredibly apparent when my dog first showed symptoms of Cushing’s Disease. Or after surgery to remove 2 malignant tumors.

When my dog got sick, I really wanted to stay home from work for a week and make sure she had a safe and good recovery. However, staying home from work for a week really wasn’t an option for me. Just as it may not be an option for you. Whether you want to stay at home with your dog because of medical reasons, or maybe there’s a neighbor who complains your dog is barking all day when you are at work and you suspect this not to be true. Whatever the reason, you may want to set up a camera to keep an eye on your dog during the hours you are away at work.

Why You Should Watch Your Pet

Now that I’ve had a camera set up that allows me to monitor my dog when I’m at work, I can’t imagine not having it. The insight I have gleaned from watching my dog’s basic actions while I am at work has taught me a lot about my dog and also my own dog care techniques. I’ve been able to test which music my dog really likes by playing it while I’m at work and observing the reactions.

There are many other reasons why keeping an eye on your dog is a good idea. Another good reason is simple home security. Keeping an eye on your home and in turn, your dog, is a simple security measure to ensure that should anything like a burglary or even fire occur, you can dispatch the proper authorities immediately as you can watch the situation unfold from your remote location. Many systems will even send you notifications once setup properly.

Dog House Camera Basics

There are many different options when looking to set up a camera for your dog house. And of course, the type of camera you will select will be based upon a variety of conditions. These conditions are those such as whether or not the intended use will be indoors or outside. You may have an outdoor dog house and a dog breed suited for the outdoors who spends ample time out in the yard. This sort of situation would warrant a good all-weather camera designed for whatever conditions mother nature decided to throw at it.

But how do you see what the camera is recording if you are away at work? And do you need to set up the camera to record all the time? Well, there are a couple of things we should talk about. Remote viewing and motion activation. Check out this helpful video I found on the subject from a surveillance expert:

I’ve broken down the different types of camera systems available and found some that may not have necessarily come to mind for the purpose, but wind up being the smartest for the intended dog-related purpose. Here are a few of the dog house, dog crate, and dog kennel camera basic types.

Camera Specifications To Pay Attention To

Aside from the many features, a camera can have, for example, like being an outdoor/all-weather pet camera or not, there are some basic specifications that are good to understand and good to watch out. Some of these specifications are crucial to having a decent pet surveillance system set up. Let’s look at a few of these specifications.

Resolution

The resolution can be broken down into three different types. Depending on which type of camera or surveillance system you are looking at, the definition of resolution may change. Here are the three basic types of resolution which we might be concerned with:

  1. Image Resolution
  2. Display Resolution
  3. Audio Resolution
Image Resolution

Image resolution, according to Wikipedia, is the measure of the detail of an image. The higher the resolution, the more detailed the image is. So, I’m sure you’ve heard of 1080p or 4k images? If you’ve paid any kind of attention to TVs over the last 5 years then you should have a grasp of resolution. To sum up, the greater the image resolution, the greater the clarity and detail of the image.

Image resolution will apply to all types of cameras. Again, the greater the resolution, the better the quality of the image. The downside to high resolution is that it often trades off frame rate to achieve higher resolution on filming video rather than taking still images. A high-resolution video camera will be significantly more expensive than a low-resolution pet camera.

Display Resolution

The term display resolution is very similar to image resolution. The difference is that it implies that it is shown on a screen in real-time. This type of resolution is only found on security systems and cameras which provide a screen along with the camera. Dog crate video monitors and dog kennel video monitoring systems often come with a screen. This is especially true in the case of a stand-alone surveillance system.

Any of the stand-alone pet surveillance systems will talk of display resolution. As mentioned, this is similar to image resolution except in this instance it is referring to the resolution of the image displayed on the included monitor. For instance, the monitor that comes with the Hello Baby audio/video monitor from Amazon would be relevant to discuss the display resolution because it comes with its own control and monitor screen.

Any pet camera system which does not come with its own monitor is usually reliant upon additional technology to make it work. This is the case with any of the cameras which utilize and the app so you connect to the camera with your smartphone via WiFi or Bluetooth. The display resolution, in this case, would be that of whatever your phone and the app are capable of producing on the phone’s display.

Audio Resolution

Lastly, we look at audio resolution. This applies only to cameras which record audio. I would think that would be apparent, but I thought I should mention that anyway. A lot of pet cameras won’t mention the audio resolution. Those which do offer the feature of recording sound will boast about that fact though. It is typically only the higher quality dog house cameras which will actually state the audio resolution.

I come from a background of audio production, so sometimes I look for the audio resolution immediately. However, I should define what the heck it is. The audio resolution is the measure of the quality of audio.

Frame Rate

The frame rate of a video camera is the rate with which the camera takes a single frame picture. Look at it this way, say you take a notepad like when you were in school. You draw a picture on each page of the notepad, each page having a slightly different picture than the page before it. When you have enough, you flip through the pages quickly and a ‘motion picture’ is born. This was how the first movies were made. They took still photos and played them in sequence. The first films of this kind were typical of a frame rate of 16 – 24 frames per second.

The frame rate is the rate with which frames (images) are shown over a time interval of one second. For instance, a 60 FPS framerate is 60 images displayed in one second. The human brain tends to like an FPS of above 50 when watching motion film. Below 50 and it appears to be ‘choppy’.

To sum up, a decent frame rate of at least 60 FPS is recommended for a dog camera.

Pet Camera Types

Indoor Cameras

Naturally, the first question you should ask when looking for a pet camera is to decide whether or not you want one suited for indoors or outdoors. Assuming an indoor dog crate or kennel camera is your intention, there are even more things to consider.

Next, you’ll want to look at whether or not you want to have a wired camera or wireless. Each has its own benefits, which I’ll discuss when I get into each individual type.

Some other features you’ll be looking for are:

  • Camera pan and tilt controls
  • Length of recording
  • Notification features
  • Playback features

As cameras evolve into better and better technology, more and more features will become available. Those listed above are pretty standard on a lot of today’s cheaper pet cameras and fairly easy to find cameras with all of these features and more in the mid-range priced pet cameras.

Outdoor Cameras

Outdoor pet cameras are usually a bit more expensive than your typical indoor camera. They often have fewer features than the indoor cameras as well for the price. However, if you keep your dog outside for any length of time on its own, then having an outdoor camera is not only a benefit, it’s essential. Imagine seeing a skunk crossing your yard and being able to act before your dog and the skunk have an encounter. That’s the sort of crazy outdoor situation you definitely want to keep an eye out for.

Dog House Camera Features

These are some of the common features I look for when trying to decide which pet camera I want to use. Whether I’m using it indoors or outdoors, for my dog house, dog crate or dog kennel, many of them could have some of these features.

Pan, Tilt And Zoom Controls

Having a camera that you can remote control is a huge, immensely helpful bonus to have for any camera, despite the use. I have found that once you are spoiled with a camera that you can remote control, you never want to go back to a fixed lens.

It’s not just the ability to pan from left to right or to tilt up or down with the dog house camera. The idea is that you should also be able to zoom in and out. Having a zoom function can let you really get in there and see what’s going on up close.

Motion Activation

Motion activation is one of my favorite control features. I don’t want to have to sift through hours of recorded nothing to find the one moment that something important occurs. I really like this feature because it can automatically turn on the recording when there is a sign of motion. In short, if nothing is in the field of view that moves, nothing will be recorded.

All my security systems and pet surveillance and pet monitoring systems that I like all have one thing in common. They all have motion activation. It doesn’t make sense not to have this feature, in my opinion.

Notifications

I know what you’re thinking, god no, no more notifications. But, I like to look at this in the following way. I can have a monitored system, and pay someone else to monitor it, and then if/when something occurs, the monitoring people will notify me in some way or form. Or, I don’t pay anyone any monthly fee (I’d prefer not to dole out another monthly payment) and have a setup that sends me a notification when an ‘event’ has transpired.

There are so many different and new technologies emerging that having a simple push notification set up is really quite old technology and can be achieved with a very simple program. Most new self-monitoring systems include the option for notifications. If you go the route of an app accompanying camera, you’ll likely have a bunch of ways to set this up.

Wifi or Bluetooth Enabled

There’s really only going to be two basic forms of wireless. First, there’s going to be the type which has a power cord, yet transmits the video signal wirelessly to either your computer, phone or a receiver which sends out some sort of communication through the internet, usually wired, but some of these can do it through your existing WiFi.

I like having a camera setup that I can access from my phone. This is opposed to the stand-alone systems which work just fine, it’s just my personal preference. I use my smartphone to link to a lot of different pieces of technology, so having my pet camera available to view on my smartphone was a really important feature for me when I was selecting my dog house camera.

Remote Playback

This feature is essential if your dog house camera, dog crate camera, or dog kennel camera are going to serve the dual purpose of also acting on behalf of your security. If this is the case, it is essential that they have some form of playback.

Again, like the feature of having WiFi, I really like having a remote playback feature where I can play one of my dog cameras recordings from a previous day. And I can play it via an app on my phone. The video is recorded and transmitted to cloud storage I have set up and I can access and watch the recordings any time via the app.

Sound And Communication

In the world of security cameras, pet cameras, dog house cameras and the like, there are two common elements of sound that I have come across. The first is the element of recorded audio. Many cameras include recorded audio, but not all. Having recorded audio can be very beneficial when you are trying to figure out what your dog is doing. Hearing another dog or animal barking or growling or making noise of some kind can be great to identify them. This is extra important when that other animal is just off-screen and your dog is on camera barking at it.

The second element to more advanced pet cameras is to have a two-way communication system. I really like being able to hear my dog or cat and be able to talk to them through the camera. I have called out commands and actually witnessed my dog following said commands. This was pretty cool as I was at work at the time, telling my dog to sit and rest when she was getting restless. Very cool to be able to talk to your pooch live.

Night Vision

If you have a dog that’s active at night, then night vision is a must. Many video recording systems today have some form of night vision, which usually appears to us in a black and white sort of color format. But many of these night recording capable dog house cameras can be easily recognized images, even in the lack of color display.

This feature is particularly important for watching your yard and property if you are combining the purpose of the pet surveillance system to make it also act as a security system.

No Monthly Fees

Using a camera that offers any kind of cloud storage will usually come with some sort of monthly fee. Many cameras don’t mention that part, they like to boast about the cloud storage recording. The downside to cloud recording is that you are likely to have some sort of monthly subscription type of recurring fee to continue the cloud-based service.

The upside to a cloud-based recording is that, for example, if you are using it for security, if a burglar comes and rips out the camera, you will still have access to all the video up until the moment the camera was ripped out. This would not be the case if the system had a hard drive on-site that a burglar could simply grab and take with them. Which would, in turn, deprive you of any recordings of the burglar, making it a self-defeating security system, so to speak.

Top Pick Dog House Camera

Blink Wireless Camera shown in this file photo.
Wireless Pet Camera

Blink XT2 Outdoor/Indoor Smart Security Camera with cloud storage included, 2-way audio, 2-year battery life – 2 camera kit

This great little camera uses extended battery life technology to give you up to two years on a single pair of AA batteries. With customizable motion detection, you can set up your activity zones to make sure you get the notification s you want to get and not tot ones you don’t. The Blink XT2 also has two-way audio so you can talk to your dog through the camera. And because the camera can be used indoors or outdoors, you can mount it pretty much anywhere, no worries if it gets wet from the rain. With its 1080p daytime recording and infra-red vision at night, you can record events no matter what time it is, dark or light. A really great little camera, it’s even Alexa compatible.

Best Dog Crate Cameras

Stand-Alone Complete Dog Crate Camera Systems

I really like this camera. It has a ridiculous amount of features. As a stand-alone complete system, this one gives you the best bang for your buck. The clear display and night vision really let you see what’s going on in your dog crate. And the ability to control and move the camera is an awesome bonus. No more losing the dog out of frame with this camera. Simply control right from the monitor and even zoom in or out as well.

The two-way communication is a lot of fun. I can talk to my dog and listen in case my dog wants to answer. Because this unit is intended as a baby monitor, it has some great sound and the ability to pick up small sounds as well. This lets you hear if your pooch is getting into mischief and the ability to speak through it means you can give your dog commands right through the airwaves using this device.

One of the handiest features of having this unit comes to play when you have puppies. Puppies have a hard time staying warm and regulating their own temperature when they are very young. Just take a look at my article on the stages of life for a dog. With puppies needing warmth, having a monitor that also can display temperature is invaluable.

Best indoor crate camera and monitor is a baby monitor system shown in this file photo.
The best Dog Crate Monitor is a baby monitor… Who knew?

Hello Baby Monitoring Stand-Alone System

The Hello Baby Monitoring System is an excellent monitor for your dog or puppies. This camera can easily be repurposed as a dog crate camera. What I really like about it is the temperature display, lullabies to soothe my dog to sleep and the infrared night vision so I can see what my pooch is up to at night.

Top Dog Crate Indoor Pet Camera – Use With Smartphone & App
A Lefun pet camera and smartphone are shown in this file photo
Top Indoor Non-Stand-Alone Pet Camera

4MP Wireless Security Camera, Lefun WiFi Baby Monitor Surveillance IP Camera with Sound Detection Two Way Audio Cloud Service Night Vision Supports 2.4GHz Network for Home Pets

The Lefun camera is not only versatile with its wide panning and tilt capabilities, but it also has an 8x zoom and a 4MP resolution so you know you’re getting great video capture. The camera comes with the ability to upgrade the memory via a micro SD card and also has cloud storage functionality. Watch your video recordings and play them back on your smartphone for the ultimate camera and recording control. With a security level of encryption that matches that of financial institutions, your video is kept private, and safe. And the highly reliable motion, as well as sound detection, let you sleep peacefully knowing that your security will start recording the moment there is a disturbance.

Bibliography/Sources

Wikipedia – Resolution

Wikipedia – Frame Rate

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© 2020, Jeremy Shantz. All rights reserved.

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