Tuesday, March 10, 2009

How To Spy On Your Dog

After getting a note and a stern talking-to from my neighbor about my dog's "constant barking", I started to despair over having to crate my poor mutt all day long while Aaron and I are at work.

And then I thought, I should observe this before I change up her routine. Make sure that I'm not just throwing her in a 3x3 box at a time of day when she wouldn't be barking anyway. If only there was a way I could RECORD the sounds from the backyard... old school tape deck from a thrift store? Call the house from my cell phone and listen in all day? No, the cordless phone battery would die.

AHA! Rock Gtalk on my laptop, hook my corded headset to my blinds by the open window, and voila! I am spying on my own backyard. Not only that, but I'm able to listen right from my desktop at work instead of having to wait until I can come home to check. I just have to explain to my coworkers why they might hear a dog barking coming from my speakers...

If you want to try the same setup, here's what I did. There may be an easier way, but I am loving the flexibility of this:

  • Step one, if you don't already have two gmail accounts, go ahead, make yourself a second one.
  • Step two, go to www.logmein.com and create an account and install it on your home computer.
  • Step three, sign in to Google Talk or enable Voice and Video chat in Gmail. Make sure you use your secondary account to get all signed in on your home computer.
  • Step four, plug in your headset and rig it so you would feasibly hear loud noises such as clapping coming from the target area, then drive to work or wherever you're going.
  • Step five, open Firefox and go to www.logmein.com, and in another tab, open your primary Gmail account. You'll have to enable Voice and Video chat in this account as well.
  • Step six, once you're logged in to Logmein, open up the Dashboard for your home computer and click on Remote Access.
  • Finally, From your primary Gmail, "Call" your secondary Gmail account and accept the call via remote access to your home desktop.
Now you are listening in and able to see if the neighbor's claims are fact or fiction. Of course, if you work somewhere that is a little more stringent on installation or your coworkers would raise eyebrows if your dog DOES actually bark, you can always make adjustments.

Option 1, plug in headphones to the work computer so nobody can hear it but you.

Option 2, instead of "calling" from your primary Gmail, use the secondary Gmail to "send voicemail". I think this option only works in Google Talk, so you'll have to have that installed on your home computer. I discovered this only lets you record 10 minutes at a time, so you would have to log in remotely every once in a while and grab another 10 minute capture. Plus the audio files take up a HUGE chunk of gmail space, so you might want to actually set up a third account to do this. Now I'm going to make Google mad at me... sorry, guys, you're just too dang useful. ;)

Option 3, go old school and just use Audacity and set it to record all day, but you don't get the same super-sleuth MacGuyver satisfaction of being able to listen and sit smugly as your dog does not actually bark all day while you're at work.

I am feeling better by the minute.


  1. I am always so amazed by your ability to use Google to it's full capacity.... simply awesome idea!

  2. So now I'm curious . . . is there any barking?