There’s only one way to find out: by watching them through a camera lens!
There are two main types and purposes of cameras that you could consider using with or for your dog. These are:
Monitoring Cameras: These are similar in concept to a baby monitor and are designed for keeping tabs on your dog at home when you’re not there.
Tracking or Action Cameras: These cameras physically attach to your dog, on a collar or harness, and let you get a dog’s eye view of where he is and what he’s doing. Some let you view live footage, while others record the video GoPro style and let you enjoy and share it later!
The abilities, functions and uses of the different cameras available in both of these categories can differ a lot, so this massive guide I’ve put together aims to cover them ALL to help you wade through what’s available.
It can get confusing when looking at different technologies and how each of the cameras work or indeed, what they can actually do. My goal is to make this all clearer for you, so you can more easily select the camera that will do exactly what you want it to!
Best Dog Monitoring Cameras – Reviews
Whether you leave your dog home alone while you’re at work all day, or if you just want to be able to keep an eye on her on the patio or the backyard, a monitoring camera setup makes this simple.
Any type of surveillance camera can be used for the job, but some are better at others in providing what we need for watching our pets, without wasting money on features that aren’t needed.
Most monitoring cameras aren’t specifically made to be used for dogs, and you’ll see a lot of them described as “baby monitors” or just regular security cameras.
However – there are some very cool pet dog-specific cameras out there that are more than just a security camera.
These purpose built devices have an inbuilt treat dispenser! I thought that sounded quite unusual when I first came across these treat-giving cameras.
But then I thought, what a nifty idea. And it’s not a unique idea anymore, because a lot of indoor cameras now have this feature (not all copycats are created equal though).
Not only can you monitor your dog, but you can also bring him closer to the camera for some very cool close up vision while he gets a yummy treat!
I’ll be making a special effort to focus on those cameras here, but I won’t be ignoring the other more “vanilla” options we have, including those for people on a lower budget.
Petzi Treat Cam – WiFi Dog Camera with Treat Dispenser
There’s a lot to talk about with this camera. It’s not just a regular one-way camera that lets you spy on your dog, but rather an interactive tool as well. The camera lets you keep watch, while you can talk to your dog through the speaker and give her a treat – so it’s the next best thing to having you right there. This is a fantastic idea for those dogs who suffer from separation anxiety, as just the sound of your voice can be hugely comforting when a dog is left alone.
Like most cameras I talk about in this guide, the Petzi comes with its own app for both iPhone and Android devices and you can use and control the functions of the camera completely through the app. It also has an easy social share feature, for those times where you catch a priceless doggie selfie. The app lets you watch your dog, take a photo, speak to your dog, or administer a treat.
One of the most interesting things about the Petzi Treat Cam is that it is the result of a crowd funded venture through Indiegogo. Basically, the inventor had an idea and over 700 people contributed a total of over $130,000 to make the concept a reality – and here it is. We’re seeing this a lot now with original products being created on a small budget thanks to donations from the general public. The gamble paid off, because the Petzi Treat Cam has been a real winner with customers.
The makers said that they wanted to design the “treat launcher” part of the unit to accept as many types of dog treats as possible.
It won’t take the bigger treats, but smaller ones and products like Greenies work well. It’s been designed to literally launch the treats out towards your dog when you activate it.
It does launch out more than one treat at a time, so how many your dog gets will depend on the size and weight of the food you use.
Furbo Dog Camera
Looking more like a coffee maker than a camera, the Furbo is another “treat tossing” camera (a dog’s dream come true).
Like the Petzi, the Furbo lets you watch your dog, talk to your dog through the audio system, and dispense treats. All of this is controlled through the apps available on both Android and iPhone devices.
The video is 720p high definition and has night vision ability.
A nifty feature of the Furbo camera is its ability to not only detect when your dog barks, but to send you a push notification immediately. This is a great function for those of us with anxious dogs who are known to be barkers when left alone.
What if you have a dog that constantly barks though? You won’t want those notifications coming in constantly. This has been thought of in the design, and you are able to adjust the sensitivity of the barking detector between low, medium and high. Or you can turn it off completely if you want.
This feature gives you the opportunity to, at the moment of barking (provided you’re available), to literally speak to your dog through the speaker to try and calm them down through the sound of a familiar voice.
You’ll need a good Wifi and internet signal getting to the camera for all of its functions to work well, so make sure to test the connection in the location that you plan to place the Furbo.
The camera can record both video and photos, and you can record the videos to keep and share later.
What size treats can you use in the Furbo camera treat dispenser?
Take note of the size of the hole on the front of the Furbo camera – that’s where the treats shoot out when you direct them to via the app.
There’s no specific type of treat recommended that works best, but the company does state that round shaped dog treats are the best and no bigger than an inch wide.
One of the potential problems that comes to mind with a treat-dispensing camera for dogs like the Furbo is that the most food obsessed dogs will spend the entire time trying to get to the food in the unit, once they’ve figured out that this is a source of treat goodness.
There’s not much point having a camera running if it’s going to be tipped over and facing the roof within minutes of you leaving the house.
The best strategy of course is to take advantage of the fact that dogs can’t jump high or climb (well most dogs), unlike cats, and to place the camera securely in an elevated spot such as on top of a shelf – as long as the camera angle still gives you a good view of the area your dog is in.
You’re able to secure the bottom of the camera to the surface using the three double sided tape squares on the base which gives the camera extra sturdiness.
A novel feature though is the tripod socket underneath, just like you’d find on a digital camera. So if you have a tripod handy, you can set up the Furbo like a regular camera on the tripod.
This video gives a good demonstration of the durability and stability of the Furbo. You can see that the unit, stuck to a surface with the sticky pads, was able to withstand a 40 pound dog putting his weight on it.
The viewing angle of the camera is 120 degrees (which is about 2/3 of a semi-circle) and it’s in a fixed position, so you can not rotate the lens to move around the room. So it’s important to test it and set it up to give you the best possible coverage of where your dog will be while you’re recording!
Best Dog Collar Cameras
Although you technically can put a GoPro or similar device on the collar on some (larger) dogs, the results don’t always meet expectations.
Having a video camera stay in place on a (hyper)active dog is a real challenge, and this is why we look at the more specific dog-friendly camera collars and harnesses that are made specifically for this purpose.
Namely a camera attached to your dog needs to be lightweight, and it needs to be able to withstand mild outdoor weather elements at the very least.
One of the make or break features of these camera types is the clip or the mechanism that it has to attach to a collar. A great camera is of no use if it comes detached from the collar or harness. So clip or attachment quality is something that I also looked closely at when researching these cameras.
The Eyenimal (what a clever name!) is a basic video camera that is made to attach directly on to the dog’s collar.
It’s a very lightweight device, weighing in at a little over an ounce so it’s going to suit just about any sized dog. It’s also small, being no more than 2.5 inches on the longest side.
This is not a waterproof camera so it’s not one you’ll be using to video your dog swimming.
It’s also not a night vision camera or a tracking camera, as there is no GPS capability. This is a video recording camera, plain and simple. And often, simple is best if all you want to do is record your dog’s adventures.
The video resolution seems low by today’s standards, at 600×400, but this is more than enough for good quality video; especially when you view it on a smartphone.
A good balance has been struck here between resolution and video quality, and the amount of video that will fit in a recording. You should be able to get over 2 hours of video within the 4GB built in storage space.
There’s no bluetooth or Wifi features on the Dogtek Eyenimal camera, and you need to upload the video via USB cable to your computer or other USB supported device.
Uncle Milton Pet’s Eye View
This lower cost option actually has a slightly higher resolution than the Eyenimal camera, at 640×480 pixels.
However this is not a video camera – it takes still photos only. If you need or want video recording, you’ll be looking at spending a little more on one of the other models in this guide.
The Pet’s Eye View also transfers your images to a computer or device using USB cable, so there’s no wireless or bluetooth technology here.
Because only still images are taken and not video, you’re able to set up an interval timer than tells the camera when to snap a photo.
This can be set to activate once every minute, every 5 minutes, or every 15 minutes. Keep in mind that only 40 images in total can be stored in the camera.
So if you set it to take a photo every minute, you’ll be out of space in 40 minutes. However, you can get up to 10 hours of photos if you decide to set it to take an image once every 15 minutes.
Obviously you’re not going to be able to this little budget camera to keep live tabs on what your dog is up to, or to get that prize photo at just the right moment (unless you get lucky!). But if keeping aware of where your dog has been and a good idea of what he’s been up to, with a series of photos, is good enough for your needs then the Pet’s Eye View camera covers the basics and does it well at an affordable price.