Hi DIYers! We know that many of you out there have pets. Many of us at Alarm Grid do as well! We know that trying to use a security system with a pet can present certain challenges and difficulties. Today, we're going to show you that using an alarm system with a pet is actually quite easy!
For the most part, you can use your alarm system and sensors with pets exactly the same as you would if you did not have pets. There are really only a few things you need to consider and perhaps do differently. By taking these few precautions, you are sure to improve your experience of using an alarm system with a pet!
Pet-Immune Motion Sensors
Most sensors can be used around pets without any issue. The only real exception is for motion sensors. Pets give off the same infrared (IR) energy that humans do. As a result, they can easily set off a motion sensor if they get within its field of view (FOV). But you probably don't want your system going off just because your pet has walked in front of your motion sensor.
Luckily, alarm manufacturers have considered this problem. That is why they created pet-immune motion sensors. A pet-immune motion sensor works by only "looking" in the areas where a human would be walking upright. The areas closer to the ground where a pet would walk are not "seen" by the motion sensor. In practice, this works pretty well, just as long as everything is set up correctly.
It is very important to understand that pets can still activate pet-immune motion sensors. If the pet manages to get within the sensor's FOV, then it will be the same as if a human intruder walked past. The key is to position your pet-immune motion sensors so that your pets cannot get in their FOV. For example, you don't want your motion sensor to be facing furniture that your pet could climb upon to activate the sensor!
You must check and make sure that the motion sensor you are planning to use is "pet-friendly" or "pet-immune". Not every motion sensor offers this feature. Motion sensors that do will list a weight limit for how small of pets can safely avoid setting off the sensor. Make sure that your pet is within that limit! Also, you will want to use any pet-immune motion sensor on the lowest possible sensitivity setting.
Dealing With Loud Sounds
Many pet owners are concerned about the loud sounds associated with security systems, especially sirens. These users are afraid that activating their system will upset or scare their pets. It is true that many security systems have the power to be some of the loudest devices in your homes. But fortunately, there are a few things you can do to avoid scaring your dog or cat.
One loud sound that systems will make is during entry and exit delays. Most panels will continuously beep after Arming Away to let you know that you need to leave the building immediately. And then they will do the same during the entry delay to let you know that you need to Disarm before the countdown expires. These noises can be bothersome or troubling to a small animal.
But there are ways around these issues. Many panels like the Honeywell Lyric Controller offer a "Silent Exit" option so that no annoying beeps are made during the exit delay countdown. And as for the entry delay, you can overcome that by just using the Alarm.com Mobile App or the Total Connect 2.0 Mobile App to Disarm from your phone before you enter the building. A key fob would work as well.
Some pets may be disturbed by Chimes and Voice Annunciations that occur when zones are faulted. This is an easy solution, as most panels will allow you to turn off or disable Chime and Voice. Another option is to turn down the system volume so that your pet is not bothered when a sensor is activated. Do whatever works for your dog or cat.
And of course there are sirens. If you don't want a siren to activate during an intrusion alarm, then you can set them to silent on your panel. Any alerts and notifications will still be sent out like normal, but your pet won't have to hear the siren. Of course, if someone has broken into your home, then your pet will likely know about it anyway! And remember, life-safety alarms (fires and CO) must be kept audible.
Please note that Alarm Grid always recommends using audible intrusion alarms, as they are important for scaring off intruders. But that can be difficult if you have a pet in the household. Sometimes the best thing to do is to set the siren (bell) timeout to be as short as possible so that the siren shuts off quickly. You might also install a small "doggy door" so that your pet can escape the loud noise if this happens.
However, you will still need to test your sirens from time to time. This is a very important part of testing your system. For these situations, it may be best just to take your pet away during the testing process. You could have your spouse or kids take them on a walk or car ride while you complete the test. Remember to put your system on test mode with the central station before you do this! And keep in mind that you will still need your pet when walk testing your motions!
Updating the CMS Document
An often overlooked aspect of using a security system with pets is to make sure the central monitoring station document is updated. This applies to any pet owner whose alarm monitoring plan includes central station service. You will want to make sure the notes for your location mention any pets that will likely be on the premises.
When an operator at a central station contacts any emergency rescuers, they will relay whatever information is on the document. You should make sure that all family members (including your pets!) are listed on this document. This way, they will know to check and make sure that everyone got out of the building in case of an emergency. This is a particularly good idea for systems with fire and carbon monoxide sensors!
Updating your central station document is easy. Just contact your alarm monitoring company and have them make the changes. You can also contact the central station directly and have them review any documents or information that they have on file. Remember, you will need to provide your false alarm password to do this. For Alarm Grid customers, changes to the dispatch instructions will need to be directed to us at our support email or via telephone, rather than directly to the central station operator.
We're Here to Help!
If you have monitoring service from Alarm Grid, then we are happy to help you make sure that your security system is ready for your pets. We would love to talk with you and help you with everything you need. Alarm Grid customers can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (888) 818-7728. Remember that our office hours are 9am to 8pm ET M-F. And if you aren't monitored, please reach out to us so we can help you explore your options. We look forward to hearing from you!