Dog owners can’t help but worry about their furry family members when away from home. It can also be quite stressful for some dogs, particularly puppies, who will ll fret continuously if left on their own. If your pooch howls and whines all the time while you’re out shopping or at work, you’ve both got a problem. With modern technology and the following guide you will be able to provide your furry friend with their own computer support!
Enter our idea of how to keep track of your fur ball while you are gone, the Skype Doggie Cam.
The Skype Doggie Cam
If you’ve got an old laptop and a web cam, the “Skype Doggie Cam” will put these items to good use, working with your wireless network at home and a free Skype account. You can call your dog from wherever you are.
Using a two-way system like Skype, if your dog is really is fretting you can talk to her or him directly. At first, the dog, unless it’s read the manuals, will be a big confused. But from first hand experience you can soothe your dog’s frayed nerves and giving your furry companion some basic commands will calm the dog down.
Project Skype Doggie Cam
Step 1 – Set up the wireless network
Assuming neither you nor the dog has a spare network port in your garage, doghouse or where the dog stays while you’re away, you’ll need to have a wireless network that has excellent signal covering your doggie cam area. If you need a hand setting one up, a gizmo Network Me service will get you going.
Step 2 – Where to put the doggie cam stuff?
Our doggie cam is in a lock up garage, so it’s protected. You need to find a location where you can leave your laptop and camera unsupervised. Make absolutely certain the dog or puppies can’t reach it. We would suggest a high spot like a shelf or book-case, near a power point, which should also be dog proof in terms of not being vulnerable to exploring dogs trying to locate your voice.
Step 3 – Open up your dog’s Skype account and install
For the purposes of this exercise we’ve assumed you have Skype installed on your computer outside the home. This is just about getting Skype on Doggie Cam. It’s easy. Simply download and install Skype on the laptop.
When installed, open the application and follow the prompts to set up the faithful furry friend’s brand new Skype account.
Once you’ve logged into your dog’s Skype account you will need to do the following:
- Add your account as a Skype contact (Check out the contact search feature)
- Make sure your web cam is working by using the video testing feature under the Video tab (Tools > Options > Calls > Video settings). Important: Experiment to find the best possible position for your web cam, where you can see as much of the area as possible, all the time. The web cam can’t move. (You could try one of the face following recognition cameras, but they probably can’t work on dogs.)
- Use Privacy Settings (Tools > Options > Privacy Settings tab) to set up the account so that only calls and messages from friends already in the contact list can be sent to this account. This means your dog won’t get spam.
- Under Calls, hit Advanced Settings, and set the new account to “Answer incoming calls automatically”.
- Make sure to tick the box “Start my video calls automatically when I am in a call”. You’ll be able to see everything from the moment your call is answered, and the dog won’t be able to put you on hold.
- Cut off the ring tone by using the Notifications tab, Hit the Sounds option un-ticking the box for Ringtone. The call won’t startle the dog. So if you call your puppy they won’t know you’re keeping an eye on them, which is good if they’re asleep, and if they’re awake they won’t have to deal with a sudden surprise, which can stress them out.
Step 5 – Powering up Puppy Cam
Windows defaults put your laptop to sleep after certain time inactive. To make sure you can check up on your dog whenever you want, you need to adjust the power settings on the computer:
Open the Start Menu > Control Panel > Power options and set so your computer to never power off . You can adjust settings so that the screen turns off after a certain number of minutes.
You can also set things up so if you close the lid on your laptop it is set to do nothing (this setting is under the Advanced tab in Windows XP).
Step 6 – Test Calls
Before you can start calling your puppy we need to make sure that everything is working as planned. In order to do that we are going to perform a series of tests to make sure your video calls go through. Follow the steps below.
First, call the Skype Testing service (in your contact list by default) from your laptop. Position yourself where the dog is supposed to be when you call. Bark or whine so that you have a sense of how loud the sound will be. This may cost you some credibility with friends and family, but you need to be certain that your microphone is picking up your pooch’s noises at the correct level.
The Skype call testing service will play back your barks and whines. If not, check the audio settings and see if Skype is using the right microphone (preferably the one on your web cam) and re-test. (Another common problem is that the microphone’s volume has not been adjusted, it will be one or the other.)
You also need to be able to test sound coming from the other end to make sure your dog can hear you when you call in. Speak exactly as you would to the dog and check the sound. Also keep in mind that your dog’s hearing is 5 times better than ours so remember that when adjusting the computer’s volume.
- Log in to Skype using your own account on another computer.
- Accept your dogs “add contact” request and call. If all is well, the laptop should answer the call after a few rings and start the video stream.
- If you are running into any issues, verify the settings above and try again.
Step 7 – Call Your Pooch
Next time you are away from home all you have to do is open Skype and dial your puppy’s Skype number, in a couple of seconds you will be able to check up on your puppy and sooth it all via video from anywhere that you have an internet connection. Will you be trying out the Skype Doggie Cam? If so share your thoughts.