Anxious Archie: Dog Monitor App

The very first thing I did to combat Archie’s separation anxiety was buy an app for my iPad and phone called Dog Monitor. Actually, at the time I bought it, I wasn’t so concerned about Archie crying when I was out, so much as I was making sure he was okay when he was in the cone of shame after he had his tumour removed.

 

Dog Monitor works by turning your iPad (and now computer) into a home monitoring system, pairing with your phone to alert you when your dog is barking, or in Archie’s case, crying. It has a camera, which, if positioned where your dog sits or passes a lot while you’re out, can allow you to track what they’re up to, but for Archie, I’ve found this function quite hit and miss.

 

 

What was of more value, however, is the audio monitoring. The app is triggered when noise meets a certain volume and sends an alert to your phone to let you know your dog is being noisy. It also takes over the speaker, meaning that when I first started using the app, my handbag often started howling in the supermarket, while out with friends… all those places where you can’t take your dog!

 

 

It was a real source of anxiety to me, and my heart would sink every time I heard the heartbreaking sound of Archie crying out. It got to the point where I dreaded going out because I hated causing him so much heartache. Lots of people told me I was being crazy and just delete the app: “I don’t know what my dog’s doing when I’m not home,” they all said.

 

 

What I landed on was a happy medium. I would set the app up at home before I went out, but not connect my phone to it the entire time I was out. I’d just logon periodically to check on him. When we we started working on training and behavioural skills to help Archie deal with my being away, I started connecting my phone when I arrived at my destination, but muting the speaker takeover system, so all I got was a vibration to tell me Archie was crying.

The app also stores a log, both time stamped and audio, of when your dog is noisy, so before I’d get in my car to go home, I’d check the activity log to see how many times he was noisy in whatever time period I’d been out. What’s helpful about the fact that the app logs the audio is that most days, nine notifications out of ten are just the birds outside my living room window or an ad on the TV (because Archie likes to watch SBS Food while his mama’s at work). I imagine this would be a great feature for anyone who is having issues with their neighbours and their dog’s noise being that you could have time coded audio evidence if it’s needed. I’m lucky and our neighbours are really sensitive to Archie’s situation and touch wood, have been patient and understanding with us. But if there were dramas, I’d definitely be able to tell the council that a maximum of 30 seconds howling with hours’ break in between is not in violation of our councils six minutes every hour laws. Thank goodness.

One last feature that I rarely use is the ability to talk from the app to your dog. So if Archie has been crying for more than 30 seconds (which is rare) and I am around and available at the time, I can click a button and talk to him. I’m not sure how I feel about my disembodied voice issuing commands to poor Arch who doesn’t understand that it’s an app, but I have used it a couple of times and had him stop.

The folks at Dog Monitor seem to be constantly upgrading and making improvements to the app, which is great. A few months ago, I bought a second app, this time one for my Mac that connects to my phone. This is much more convenient than leaving my iPad home, and trying to prop it on chairs and books. My computer points straight at Archie’s crate, and while I still don’t see him much on the camera, I’ve come to grips with that not being the feature I need the most.

Archie still has good days and bad days, but he has improved a lot. So much so that most times he’s left at home alone these days, I don’t switch the monitor on. But I am happy I made the investment of about $8AUD for each platform (one for iOS mobile and the other for my Mac). If you’re interested, check them out on the Apple App Store or via the Dog Monitor website for other compatible devices.

And just so y’all know, this was not a sponsored post! If you’re a pet company who’d like to talk to me and Archie about sponsored posts, send us an email (Archie says to say he’s more interested in sampling treats than talking about apps). I’ll always disclose if I’m being paid for content.

Most photos are from the Dog Monitor app. With the exception of the beautiful picture at the top of the post from Hairypants.

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