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Adopting a months-old Havachon a few years ago was easily one of my best decisions. But despite her small frame and innocent puppy eyes, my fluffy Bella found creative ways to misbehave whenever I left the house. On her own, Bella chewed through housewares, jumped on furniture and tore up the toys I bought her. I soon put her in a confined play-pen to avoid disasters, but she’d still take out her boredom on anything in reach. Pet-owning friends kept recommending the Furbo Dog Camera, an interactive robot for pets that serves as both a “pet nanny” and security camera. I wasn’t convinced. Would I just watch her sleep all day? Would I miss catching her in the act? Reluctant to buy the Furbo, I kept lamenting to friends about Bella’s latest victims: rogue shoes, chair legs, throw pillows. She’s not a bad dog, mind you, but she wasn’t a good puppy.
Possibly having heard enough of my rants, a friend gifted me the Furbo around the 2019 holiday season and completely turned around my relationship with Bella. The Furbo app allowed me to use training commands through the speaker when she misbehaved and dispense treats to reward good behavior. Best of all, interacting with Bella through the Furbo kept us close even when I was away, which will ultimately be a relief again once working from home comes to an end.
The Furbo promises an easy, three-step setup: connect to a power outlet, download the Furbo app and access a secure Wi-Fi connection. The 160-degree, wide-angle video available on my smartphone delivers a clear image — complete with 1080p resolution and up to 4x zoom — to help me derail my sneaky pup in real time. But what really sets the Furbo apart is its interactive features, among them a dog treat-tossing tool that notifies Bella with a customizable “squeak” noise, now triggering her to run over at lightning speed with the promise of her favorite snack.
I was hesitant about filling treats inside the Furbo at first, worried that Bella would knock it over in hungry desperation. But the Furbo base is a lot sturdier than I expected and, after surviving a few falls (sadly not because of my ultra-hyper dog but because I inevitably tripped over the power cord), has earned my respect. For an extra layer of stability, there’s 3M double-sided tape on the bottom and a tripod mounting socket option.
I personally have the barking alerts feature turned on, pushing notifications to my phone whenever Bella barks (or just makes a lot of noise). Notifications can easily be turned off in case they become too overwhelming, and the sensitivity of the sensor can be adjusted to limit those notifications, too. Couple that with two-way audio and I can hear and see what’s going on, not to mention comfort Bella when she freaks out over the mailman or the squirrels outside.
While the price point can be steep compared to more affordable pet cameras on the market (we offer up some of those below), accessibility and dog-specific features makes the Furbo my top contender — in other words, bells and whistles help. But the device doesn’t come without its limitations (its price being one of them): The need for a stable internet connection has definitely made me miss out on Bella’s antics in no-signal areas and the lack of playback options without upgrading (for $7 a month) only lets me see Bella’s activity in real time. And if you opt for small enough treats, the dispenser will likely throw multiple at once, meaning you may need to invest in larger treats or limit the amount your dog is eating throughout the day.
While I haven’t yet purchased the Dog Nanny upgrade, the $7 per month will give you an even more personalized experience. The upgrade alerts you if your pup is whining, crying or howling and records 15-second clips based on your pet’s daily activity, compiling them into a “Doggie Diary” series at the end of the day. And to provide that additional security boost, it’ll send “smart alerts” to your phone that notify you of any movement or home emergencies.
More pet cameras to consider
If the Furbo isn’t the right device for you, we’ve compiled some of the best rated animal-friendly home security cameras that can be effective for monitoring and caring for your pets while you’re away.
This bestselling device boasts smart motion detection and tracking, sound alerts and two-way audio at an affordable price point. While it doesn’t include as many pet-specific features as the Furbo, the Victure app is meant to be accessible and easy to use, with the option to record videos and store it either on an SD memory card or cloud storage. Push notifications are sent to your phone whenever the Victure senses movement or detects noise, making for a simple home security camera that can be used for pets, babies or elderly care.
Like the Furbo, the Petcube comes with many of the same features: A 160-degree ultra-wide angle view with night vision, built-in Amazon Alexa and sound and motion alerts. But some key differences lie in the Petcube’s treat dispenser, which can hold 1.5 pounds of treats (compared to the Furbo’s 100 treat maximum) and includes three different inserts to accommodate treat size so multiple don’t get thrown at once. And unlike the Furbo, the Petcube comes with a wall mounting option along with a rubber bottom to avoid slippage. If you’re hoping to upgrade, there are multiple subscription tiers starting at $4 per month to a premium option that’s $10 a month, with the biggest differences between the two being a more accessible video history, unlimited video downloads and a longer warranty.
The Blink Mini is if you’re looking for a simple device without the pet-specific features. Like most other security camera options, the Blink Mini is easily controlled through its proprietary app, which allows you to see, hear, talk and receive alerts on movement and sound in your home. As the name suggests, it’s also super compact for storage in small spaces — and for keeping it hidden from sneaky pets.
Called the “Owl Robot” for its appearance, this toy-like device lets you move with and track your pets around the house through an app. It includes a full HD camera, night vision, two-way audio and a treat dispenser that can be activated while it's on the move. And if you want to use it all day, its battery life lasts up to eight hours when used continuously and five to 10 days on standby.