New survey shows pet owners using tech to help four-legged friends

We think we know our pets, but do we know what they get up to when we aren’t looking?

National Pet Charity, Blue Cross finds out the real secret life of pets and the things they get up to when home alone and how cameras can help keep pets happy and healthy.

A new survey released by Blue Cross has found more than half of cat and dog owners in the UK feel worried about leaving their four-legged friends’ home alone, and almost a quarter have a monitoring device to watch their pet at home, with another 24% considering buying one.

Pets have been caught on camera chewing (20%) or scratching furniture (19%), barking at the door (31%) and barking for no reason (29%), running around the house constantly (28%) and playing (32%), though most pets have simply been caught sleeping (36%).

Bentley being caught sneaking into the fridge.

Amusing behaviours keep pet owners entertained: like Quade the cat who regularly gets spotted sleeping underneath his cat bed and Margot who is constantly misjudging the leaps up to her cat tree.

Some owners (16%) have even admitted to seeing their pet open the fridge!

One owner said her dog, a Boxer called Bentley, likes to search the fridge and cupboards for food when he’s home alone, with one incident resulting in an emergency vet visit.

The monitoring camera catching him in the act helped her quickly find what was wrong and get him to the vet. She is getting behaviour advice on how to keep Bentley out of the fridge and cupboards.

Some of the more worrying behaviours caught on camera, including barking and chewing, are likely to be separation related – something which can be helped by pet behaviourists.

Ryan Neile, senior animal behaviourist at Blue Cross, said: “Blue Cross believes pets are part of the family, and so do most pet owners. Even so, many pets are given up due to owners struggling with behaviour problems when they’re left home alone.

“Being able to monitor your pet when they’re home alone is not only great peace of mind, but it can really help to understand what your pet is going through when they’re alone. Having this knowledge can be vital when trying to change a pet’s routine to help them cope better when left alone and can allow for specific training advice to be sought from a qualified behaviourist registered with the Animal Behaviour and Training Council.”

Almost 2 in 5 people who monitor their pets with cameras say it’s helped them to change their pet’s routine or seek training, however, the same number have said they were worried by behaviour they’d seen on camera but didn’t know what to do about it.

The charity has found that many dogs are given up before they’re a year old due to typical behaviours which owners struggle to fix, particularly in adolescence.

Blue Cross pet experts have produced Puppy Knowhow and Kitten Knowhow, a free email subscription to help prospective and new pet owners through that challenging first year.

The tailored service equips owners with advice for their pet’s age, tips on training and helping to understand puppy and kitten behaviour in order to help owners feel in control and supported.

Ryan added: “Whilst watching your pets on camera cab ne great for understanding their needs and encourage more appropriate behaviour, it’s also really important to remember not to punish your pets for anything that you may have seen that you don’t like.

“Pets are unable to understand that the telling off they receive when you arrive home in relation to the furniture they chewed earlier and is likely to increase their feelings of anxiety and damage your relationship with them. Try to remain as neutral as possible when returning home and seek advice from a qualified behaviourist.”

Surveillance cameras are useful for spotting behaviours, but owners don’t need to spend lots of money to keep their pets happy, Blue Cross shares excellent pet advice and tips on its website.

For more information or to subscribe to Puppy Knowhow or Kitten Knowhow you can visit www.bluecross.org.uk.