Home Automation with Pets

Setting up your home automation when you have pets can be both fun and a little frustrating at times. You can create several different automations to help your pets get what they need without interrupting you quite so much unless it’s really important (you could actually apply that to kids as well, but that’s another topic). At the same time, many of your automations may be for humans only and you don’t want them triggered by pets,

Here are some ideas for both the fun and the challenges of home automation with pets.

Fun and Helpful Ways to Use Home Automation with Pets

Pet Training:

You can set up a smart mat that detects when your dog has jumped on the bed, then triggers a speech command to let them know that’s not ok.

Pet Communication:

Teach your dog to step on a pressure mat to let you know when it’s time for them to go out – and have a speech notification: “Spot would like to go outside right now.” One of our employees has this set up and loves it!

You could also teach your dog to sit by the door when it’s time to go out and then set up an automation to announce throughout the house that it’s time to let the dog out using 2 motion sensors, one for the dog and one for a human at a higher height so that you can test for it being just the dog, then set up a sequence to trigger your announcement.

Check for the Right Temperature for Your Pet:

Pets such as birds, snakes, fish and other exotic animals can only survive in a certain temperature range. You can set up a custom alert using a temperature sensor to text you to let you know if the temperature is getting too cold or too hot before it is too late.

Turn the Backyard Lights on for Your Dog to Go Out:

Set up a contact sensor for when you open the back door and set up a condition that this is between sunset and sunrise. Then have the lights go on for however many minutes that your dog generally takes to do his business.

Track Your Pets When You’re Not at Home:

Set up presence sensors to detect which rooms your pets are in at any given point. You can add something to the pet’s collar to identify which pet, and multiple sensors in each room to detect entry and exit. This can be especially important if you have, say, a pet bengal tiger; if he escapes you’ll be able to alert the neighborhood before he mauls an unsuspecting toddler. (note: we do not condone keeping bengal tigers as pets)

Check If the Dog Sitter Has Arrived:

Set up a presence sensor to trigger a notification to you that your dog sitter or walker has arrived and your pet is being entertained and fed. Using a smart lock also allows you to give your walker a unique code that you can deactivate at any time.

Dealing with Challenges of Pets and Home Automation

Pets Triggering Sensors Instead of Humans:

Generally, the biggest problem is having pets trigger an automation based on a motion detector. One way to get around this is to use “pet immune” motion sensors that don’t trigger on pets smaller than 40-50 pounds – if you can’t put the sensor at a height that doesn’t get triggered by your pet.

Another option is to isolate your motion sensor’s range so it is not detecting areas at pet height. This can be done by masking a portion of the sensor with tape or using small tubes to control the direction of the sensor.

Pets Treating Your Sensors as Toys:

You may not be able to get around this too much, especially if you have cats. But here are some things to know:

  • Cats love to press buttons or move things that then make something happen like lights or sounds going on and off. You might want to hide your buttons.
  • If you have sensors that flash and look like a toy and they’re at dog height, they are fair game for playing ball with. You’ll need to make sure you’ve found locations that don’t tempt your dog OR make sure you haven’t taught them to play a game that somehow looks similar. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a very expensive toy the dog has fun with.
  • Parrots and Alexa – we don’t know where this is going, but be careful what your parrot learns.
We hope you have fun setting up home automations for your pets! And let us know in the Hubitat Community of any ideas you have that we could use.
May 24