Minimizing False Alarms for Pet Owners

Posted by , , at 6:31 am

In last Friday’s post, we discussed false alarms and the frustrating issues that they can pose for consumers, home security companies, and emergency responders. We also discussed some of the most common causes of false alarms.

One of the most common causes, as we mentioned last week, is pets.

Pet-Caused False Alarms

Sometimes, we forget to disarm the alarm system and then ol’ Scooby trips a sensor. In other incidents, it’s Scooby’s fault because he got too close to a sensor. Ultimately, it’s the pet who set the security system off. Unfortunately, it’s the pet owner who’s left to deal with the mess

The sensor that is usually to blame for pet-caused false alarms is the motion sensor.

It’s a valuable part of any home security system package, but at times it can be too sensitive and can mistakenly identify a pet’s heat source as an intruder’s.

Now that more counties and districts across the country are ramping up fines and penalties for repeated false alarms, pet owners are making it a priority to reduce offenses. And the best way to minimize the chance of a false alarm is by adjusting your motion sensor.

Tips to Minimize Pet-Triggered False Alarms recently addressed this issue and released a tip sheet to help pet owners. They include:

  • Place motion sensors high along the way. This will help avoid the pet getting close enough to the sensor to trigger it.
  • Consider your pet’s climbing habits. For example, even if you place the motion detector high, a cat may be able to get close to it by climbing. Keep this in mind when deciding on placement, and not only put it somewhere high, but also somewhere away from household items used for climbing by pets.
  • There are motion detectors that have a pet-immunity function. This means that an alarm won’t be sounded for a pet under 80 pounds, but this won’t work for very large pets, or in a house where there is more than one pet.

Another option is to make sure that your motion sensor is not positioned toward the stairs. A pet climbing the stairs may get in the line of sight of the sensor and set off the alarm. Instead, point them toward doors and openings.

If moving and adjusting your motion sensors has had no effect and you’re still getting false alarms, consider installing pet gates or an invisible fence to keep pets out of rooms with sensors. Cameras are also a great option if you have a pet. They’ll give you the ability to visually check in on your home and your pet, without running the risk of a false alarm.

Bottom line, you should understand the suggested specifications of your equipment. With a FrontPoint system, we suggest that you place a motion sensor between four and five feet off the ground, for maximum protection. Also, the sensors are only suggested for pets up to 40 pounds. 

Pet Trouble versus User Error

If you’re still having trouble and these tips aren’t helping, it’s a good indication that your pet is not the cause of the problem.

  • If motion sensors are appropriately placed away from pets but there are still false alarms, it may be time to investigate other reasons. For example, motion detectors that aren’t securely mounted, or that are placed too close to air vents can mean false alarms.

Avoid Costly False Alarms

Use the tips here to make sure your pets aren’t the cause of costly false alarms. It will reduce the chance of you having to pay a fee now that more areas are adopting policies to raise false alarm fees.

Stay tuned! Next week, we speak to professional emergency responders for a detailed look at how disruptive false alarms are, and what can be done to reduce them.

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