Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Wireless Webcam/Security Cam Advice Needed

Here's the dilemma (to skip the gory details and get right to the question at hand, skip to the bottom paragraph). We have a dog. She's always had a dog door, so keeping her trapped in the house is not an option. I have a job and a life, so staying at home all the time is not an option. But (here comes the problem!), when we leave the dog at home alone, she tries to get out. This wasn't a problem at previous homes because while she had access to the back yards, we'd come and go through the front door, so I think there was a disconnect for her between where we would go and where she could go. But in this house, she can go out in the back yard, which is also our path for coming and going.

The back yard is configured thusly... we have a back door which opens out to an expanse of back yard, which leads to a carport, which connects to the street via a short driveway. The entire back yard has a perimeter fence (solid fencing, 6 feet tall) with a remote gate at the driveway.

Now, we realized that the gate would be a problem for us (how to keep the dog from running out while the gate is open for the car to enter/exit?), so shortly after moving into the house, we installed a 4 foot picket fence between the yard and the carport/driveway to keep the dog away from the perimeter fence's gate. She's not a big dog, so I don't think she can jump over something that high. Problem solved. Or so we thought.

It didn't take long before we were arriving home to find the dog on the wrong side of our little fence. After several days of this, I pretended to leave, but secretly watched to find out that the dog had figured out how to open the gate on the little fence. That was a couple of weeks ago. We started to lock the gate when we left and thought we had the problem solved. But we were wrong.

A couple of days ago, G-Dog arrived home to find the dog, once again, on the wrong side of the little fence. But the gate was still locked, so we were puzzled as to how she might have gotten out. There's one spot between the gate and the first picket in the fence that's wider than the other gaps, and we guessed that she might have squeezed between the pickets there. So, we blocked that up and figured we were secure again. But today when I arrived home, the dog not only was on the wrong side of the little fence, she was actually in the process of wriggling under the larger, perimeter fence, into the street. This is a terrifying prospect -- we live only a block from McCallie Avenue and two blocks from Bailey, both roads that get a lot of swiftly-moving traffic. She's got to stay in the yard.

So, in an attempt to find out her current method of escape, first I got on the carport side of the gate while she was in the yard and called her to me. She just became flummoxed, and made no attempt to get over/under/through the fence. So, I figured the only way to find out how she was getting past the fence would be to do another round of pretending to leave while really sticking around to spy on her. Which I tried. I spied for close to two hours, in the cold, with no results. She fussed and cried and howled, but she never attempted to get past the little fence. A friend suggested that since I can't spy without staying very close by (close enough to peak through the knots in the fence boards), she might have known I was still there and was therefore reluctant to do something that she knows is baddog behavior.

So, the next logical step is spying remotely, right? How hard would this be to do? How expensive would it be? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?


ryan said...

I'm gonna suggest what's in your blog title: a wireless webcam. I'm gonna go all the way and suggest buying one of those cameras you may - but probably don't, judging by your web-savvy - see on those blasted pop-up ads: the X10. Why? Cause it's relatively cheap, and you don't particularly care about quality for this use. Just set it up, clear a bunch of space off your drive, start recording, and walk away. You can even set it to take a frame every few seconds to save space, should you so choose, though I'd imagine a dog getting through a fence probably only takes about 2.5 seconds.

fletch said...

I haven't kept up with webcam technology so can't help there, but it wouldn't surprise me if she is climbing over the fence, and I mean climbing like a cat instead of jumping over it. Without seeing the fence that might not be possible, but if there's a place where she can get footholds it might be doable. I've seen small dogs climb 8 foot fences and then fall to the other side. It's a lot of trouble and some pain with the fall so they only do it when highly motivated so that might explain why she didn't escape the last time, and might not try again if it was too hard.

Well I'm sitting in a motel room traveling on business in a very cold place so that's why I'm writing a novel here.

Keera said...

Having a current daily diet of America's Funniest Home Videos, I've seen dogs squeeze through what seemed like too small a hole, but more so, as Fletch says, all kinds of climbing. If they get a toehold, they can make it. You may want to examine the 4-foot fence veeery carefully for any wear from toenails.

I hope you figure it out without any further "excitement"! Traffic is never good for any pet.

alice said...

Thanks for the help, everyone. I'm thinking this thing might be pretty cool, if I need to go that route, BUT I may have dodged the bullet. I popped out today just for a quick trip to the store and by the time I got back, the dog was already out (past BOTH fences) and playing in traffic.

It was very alarming, so I did something that was pretty mean in a desperate attempt to find out how she's getting out: I put her on one side of the fence and on the other side, I stood with the car door open, inviting her to go for a ride with me. She LOVES car rides. She wimpered and whined and cried at me, pretending that she didn't know how to get past the fence, but I stuck to my guns and after about a half an hour, she finally pulled the bottom of the gate open far enough so that she could ::barely:: squeeze through.

I took her for the promised ride and while we were out, I called the friend who installed the fence and he came over immediately to add a locking latch at the bottom of the gate. Hopefully that will keep her in. If not, I may add a puppycam to my web site...

(Fletch, I sure wish you still had a blog. I'd love to hear about your travels!)

ryan said...

Puppycam! You'll have to add a feed to your blog.

sravana said...


I hope that fixes it. I'm horrified hearing that she was out in traffic!


Keep us updated on that, okay?

alice said...

I will keep you updated. She's passed out at the moment, exhausted from the day's adventures... playing in traffic + being tortured with the prospect of a car ride + getting to go on the car ride + having her friend, the fence guy, come by for a visit (they love each other!)!

Tomorrow and over the weekend, I'll keep my trips out brief, just to be sure we've solved the problem before I stay away for too long...

Keera said...

Human 1, Dog 0. *Whew!*

Mimi said...

What you need isn't electronics, it's SNOW.

That would make it possible to track the dog's

path to the wrong side of the fence.

Failing that, some other substance that would

show tracks -- sand, maybe? mud?

But if you decide to wait for snow, please

don't fail to post video of the necessary

snow dance...

alice said...

Spoken like a true yankee! Thanks for the tip, Mimi. It's nice to see you pop in! How are things in the new digs?!? Keep me posted!