You get an alert from your home security system and your heart skips a beat as you picture a criminal entering your home. Upon further investigation, however, you realize it was just your pet… again.
Most home security systems use sensors that alert you to unexpected motion taking place in your home at times and in areas in which there shouldn’t be anyone about. Unfortunately, they are sometimes also triggered when your dog, cat or other pet enters the area. It can be frustrating at best. Unfortunately, it can even lead to you letting your guard down after a while if you start to assume that it’s your pet triggering the alarm yet again when, in fact, it could be a criminal. In some cases, too many false alarms could even lead to you facing hefty fines or finding your address placed on a “Do Not Respond” list by authorities.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to prevent false pet alarms.
Choose the right type of sensors
Some sensors, known as “active sensors,” detect movement of any kind. They send out waves on a regular basis, and if they detect anything moving, they sound an alarm. That movement could, unfortunately, include your dog or pet running across the room.
Other sensors, known as “passive sensors” use passive infrared (PIR) technology that detect heat changes in an area. They can’t differentiate between your warm-blooded dog who escaped his crate in the middle of the night and a cold-hearted burglar. They only know that there’s been a change in the heat of a room.
Pet-Immune motion sensors
Fortunately, some companies offer sensors designed specifically for homes with pets. They’re equipped with technology that can differentiate between humans and people in motion based on their speed, patterns and other factors. Often the alarms won’t be triggered if the object in motion weighs less than a certain amount (generally up to 80 pounds), so your dog, cat, pot-bellied pig or other pet is free to roam without worry of false alarms.
Of course, If your burglar is a kid, it could miss them, but in most cases, pet-immune sensors offer a great way to protect your home while still providing your pets with freedom.
If you have a driveway alarm as part of your home security system, there are some that use electromagnetic sensors. Instead of detecting body heat, they’re only triggered by metal, like that in a car, so you don’t have to worry about outdoor pets or wildlife triggering them. Others use PIR technology and are activated when something or someone crosses a beam that flows between the sensors. These can often be placed at levels high enough that they won’t be triggered by most animals, but will still alert you to human movement.
Place your sensors appropriately
Where you place your indoor sensors can make a difference too when it comes to preventing false pet alarms. You may want to consider combining the type of sensors you use and place pet-immune sensors in those areas your pet frequents the most and traditional motion sensors in other areas of your home.
Also, window and door alarms may be particularly important, since when they’re rarely opened by pets. If your doors and windows are well-armed, then you may be able to be more selective about where you place indoor motion sensors.
Utilize cameras to help you figure out what’s going on
Pet cameras should be a key component of your home security system. If an alarm of any type is triggered, use can use your mobile phone to check the cameras to see what’s happening. If you or your security system’s professional monitors can see clearly that a pet is responsible for the alert, then there’s no need to call authorities out for a false alarm. Bonus: You can also just check in during the day to see how your pets are doing or get a sweet shot of them if you miss them when you’re away.
The bottom line on security systems and pets
Pets are part of our families and taking their habits and needs into account is an important part of selecting the right security system for your home. Fortunately, there are plenty of options that allow them to still roam freely while making sure your home is as safe as possible for them and the rest of your family. When choosing a home security system, make sure to ask what type of pet-immune sensors a company may offer, if they will help you figure out the best placement for sensors and cameras in order to prevent pet-triggered false alarms and how they can make sure your home is still secured properly.
This article has been reviewed and approved by Officer Banta.
Officer Banta is the official SecurityNerd home security and safety expert. A member of the Biloxi Police Department for over 24 years, Officer Banta reviews all articles before lending his stamp of approval. Click here for more information on Officer Banta and the rest of our team.