Video Monitoring Your Dog with Separation Anxiety

Setting up a pet camera to see what your dog does when you’re not around is useful for a few reasons. If you’re not sure if your dog has separation anxiety, a video can show you what symptoms they might be showing when alone. Video can help you figure out the context in which your dog is displaying certain behaviors, like if they are barking continuously or only barking when someone walks past your home.

If you know that your dog has separation anxiety, you can use video to help you with training and behavior modification. Being able to watch your dog for signs that they are starting to become anxious makes it easier to manage their alone time so that they aren’t pushed past their limit.

Having video to share with your veterinarian, certified dog trainer or behavior consultant helps with diagnosis, determining severity, informs the creation of an effective treatment plan, and tracks your dog’s progress.

Top Tips for Recording Video of Separation Anxiety Behavior

  • Select a video camera that has as wide an angle as possible, so you can see the entirety of your dog’s area.
  • Setup the camera to overlook your dog’s regular area (their crate, exercise pen, or a particular room). If they have freedom to roam a large area while you’re gone, invest in multiple cameras to catch as much of their activity as possible.
  • Choose a camera with a continuous recording option. Some cameras only record when motion is detected, but you want to see what your dog does over an extended period of time.
  • Don’t change the location they stay in when alone based on where the camera is. Changing your dog’s environment can exacerbate separation anxiety symptoms and make it difficult to determine the effects of treatment.
  • Avoid talking to your dog using two-way audio if this makes them more anxious. Some dogs become more frantic when they hear your voice but can’t find you, but every dog is different.
  • When assessing a dog for separation anxiety (pre-treatment) using video:
    • Video for at least 20 minutes
    • Keep your regular pre-departure routine to minimize variables 

Choosing a pet camera

There are lots of options when it comes to choosing what kind of camera to use for taking video of your dog.

  • Use your computer’s webcam: If you don’t want to purchase a stand-alone pet cam, you can use the webcam on your desktop or laptop computer. Make sure you turn off the sleep function on your computer.

    You can use Skype, Facetime or Google Hangouts to see what your dog is up to when you’re gone, however recording for future viewing is easier in Skype. (If you use Facetime or Google Hangouts and want to record, you have to record your screen using a screen-recording app.)
    • Set up a Skype account for your dog and set it to auto-answer incoming Skype calls.
    • If you want to record the video for later, click the + symbol for options, and then choose Start Recording.
  • Use an old phone or tablet: If you have a phone or tablet that you no longer use, you can set it up to record video of your dog while you’re gone. It’s helpful to purchase a tripod or holder to stabilize the phone and make it possible to get a good angle.
    • Simply open the camera app, choose video, and press record before you leave. (Note: If you use this method, you aren’t able to watch the video live.)
  • Stand-alone cameras: There are many options for purchasing a stand-alone camera, and many people use these for home security as well as monitoring their pets. The easiest ones are wireless cameras that connect to your Wi-Fi network, such as Arlo, Nest, or Ring cameras. Each brand uses a different app that allows you to watch live video on your phone, and you can choose to subscribe to cloud storage for video recordings. For some stand-alone cameras like Wyze, continuous recording requires using an SD card for storage.
  • Pet-specific cameras: There are some pet-specific cameras that combine video recording with treat-dispensers, such as the Furbo, Petcube, and Pawbo. Each camera offers different video quality, viewing angles, and options for night-vision and two-way audio. Do your research on which brand best fits what you want for these options.
    • Treat-dispensing cameras can be used specifically for separation anxiety treatment a few different ways:
      • Toss treats in a location away from you to your dog during your normal pre-departure routine to help with counter conditioning.
      • You can dispense a treat via the connected app to reward being calm and quiet while you’re away.
      • Program a treat-tossing schedule to dispense treats throughout your dog’s alone time.
      • Use two-way audio to help calm your dog. Note: In some cases, using two-way audio can make a dog more anxious. Avoid talking to your dog through a camera’s speakers if your dog gets more frantic if they hear you but can’t find you.

Setting Up Your Pet Camera

You want to set up your camera somewhere that gives you the widest view of your dog’s area. Use a shelf or a counter if you need a wider view and change the angle of the camera as needed to focus on your dog’s space. If your dog is crated while you’re gone, place the camera at the same level as the crate (on the floor or a coffee table) so you can see clearly into the crate.

Make sure the camera is secure. Invest in a tripod or stand for a phone or tablet camera to keep it from falling over. If your dog is roaming freely, make sure the camera is somewhere that it won’t get knocked over.

Do a test run with a friend or family member to make sure everything works as it should, and that you are comfortable using any programs or apps.

What to Watch for When Recording Video

Whether you’re using video to determine whether your dog has separation anxiety or tracking their treatment progress, you’ll want to pay attention to certain things.

  • How much time passes after you leave until your dog starts to show symptoms of separation anxiety? Do they start to act stressed before you even leave, right after you walk out the door, or after they’ve been alone for a certain period of time? Knowing how long you dog can go before becoming anxious will help you determine their threshold and determines certain aspects of training and behavior modification steps. 
  • How long does your dog engage in behaviors that could indicate anxiety? Are they barking continuously or chewing up items for five minutes and then stop? Do they pace for the entire time they are alone? The duration of separation anxiety symptoms helps determine the severity of a dog’s anxiety.
  • Where does your dog focus their behavior? Is their destructive behavior focused on exit points (indicating escapism) or other household items? Are they watching at the doorway or out a window that overlooks a busy sidewalk or street?
  • Is your dog exhibiting separation anxiety symptoms every time they are alone, or only sometimes?

After recording video to learn more about what your dog does when they’re left alone, take our  quick quiz to find out if your dog might suffer from separation anxiety and what the severity level is.

Does Your Dog Have Separation Anxiety?

Take our quick and free quiz to learn if your dog potentially suffers from separation anxiety.

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Instant results and a customized report

Barking

Barking

Destruction

Destruction

Potty Accidents

Potty Accidents

Watch this before and after video captured of dogs who had severe separation anxiety and were helped using Calmer Canine. Results were incredible, showing a dramatic reduction or resolution of measured anxiety in all dogs that participated in the 2018 pilot study.