As the Coronavirus pandemic hit the UK, I – like many others – began working from home. And in doing so, my dogs’ routines were flipped upside down.
No commute for me meant a slightly later breakfast for them, though they did slowly come around to the idea of a lie in. But the biggest change was that they were rarely left alone.
I’m pretty fortunate that we rescued both my Staffy crosses well ahead of the pandemic in 2017 and 2018, which we believe to have reduced their separation anxiety slightly.
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But for those owners who became pet parents in lockdown, separation anxiety could be a much bigger issue leading to stressed pups, chewed furniture and mess.
Now that everything is getting back to ‘normal’, our home routines are changing and Phoebe and Frank find themselves alone on occasion. And sometimes I’m not quite sure who has the separation anxiety – me or them!
Frank, who is four, is quite a dependent and needy pooch anyway, so he definitely gets a little upset with us leaving him. Phoebe is a little more independent by nature, and at the age of seven, she rather she enjoys the peace and quiet when we’re out. She also likes to sneak onto the sofa, leaving behind a telltale dip and warm spot.
But to offer myself some peace of mind knowing they weren’t sitting waiting at the door for me like Max in Secret Life of Pets, I got an Arlo essential indoor camera to spy on them.
The £119 camera is currently on sale for £89, and is said to record video in 1080p, connecting to your home’s WiFi. I found the camera a little trickier than other devices to set up, but the whole process took around 10 minutes. The free Arlo app walks you through the set up steps, but the camera does then need to update itself, which takes another five minutes or so.
The security camera is compact and looks very sleek, blending into decor without looking super obvious or obnoxiously standing out. It has its own stand which means it can be placed on any flat surface, and we’ve found the TV stand to be the best place for it.
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After setting up my camera, I could clearly see everything going on in the front room of my lounge in HD. The footage is extremely clear, although I did find the feed to be around five to ten seconds behind real time on the app.
The camera offers a 130 degree view of the room, which is quite a wide angle. If you place it in the corner of a room, you can see the majority of it, so I was pleased with the coverage.
But of course the biggest test would be to see if it would catch my dogs being up to no good while we were out.
After watching us leave from the front window, we spotted on the camera that it didn’t take long for them to settle into their beds to watch QVC.
I wanted to test out the camera’s motion detection feature, which sends notifications alerts to your phone. Initially, I thought it was broken, but on checking the app I couldn’t help but burst out laughing. Both dogs were sound asleep without a care in the world that we weren’t home.
Eventually, I did get an alert, and thought it was great that the camera can differentiate between people and pets, alerting me to ‘animal detected at The Dog House’ – which is the name I’d set up for our camera.
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Phoebe wasn’t at all phased by the addition of the camera to the media unit, but Frank was keen to check it out and managed to nudge it with his nose, changing the angle ever so slightly, but not enough to obstruct our view of the room. In hindsight, I should have put a dot of Blu Tack underneath it.
The dogs spent the majority of the time snoozing, with the odd stretch, yawn, or scratch in between, but remained content and settled while we were out. I couldn’t help but laugh that I’d been worrying about them all this time, but they couldn’t have cared less.
It appeared that the postman had been to deliver some letters, to which Frank had got up to have a bark. Postie ‘scared off’, Frank returned to his slumber and forgot all about it. He did get up a few more times in the short time we were out – but I think this was due to car doors and neighbors doorbells being mistaken for us coming home.
What was really lovely to watch though is how excited they get when they realize we’re home. You can see their ears prick up when the car pulls up, and Frank’s party trick us to bring his blanket over as a gift. Being able to watch this adorable ritual in real-time was just brilliant, and goes to show that while our dogs miss us a little while we’re out, they love nothing more than greeting us when we return.
A few other features that I like about the Arlo is that it has a privacy shield you can activate for when you’re in the house and don’t need access to the feed, and it has a night vision feature which means you can still see your pets clearly when the lights are off.
There’s two-way audio so you can speak to your pets to tell them to stop barking, or get off the sofa if you need to, as well as an alarm that can be activated in case of an emergency, for example if there was an trespasser in the house.
The app is easy to use and navigate, and offers priceless peace of mind for pet owners. I don’t know how I ever lived without checking in on them every hour while we’re out.
You can read more about the Arlo essential indoor camera here, and pick it up while it’s still on offer for £30 off.