The Best Home Security Systems for Pet-Owners
Got pets? These security systems won't go off when they walk by, preventing false alarms.
The enjoyment of pet ownership comes with immense responsibilities, one of which is keeping your four-legged companions safe and comfortable at all times. Having tested dozens of security systems, we’ve found that some of them can actually help with those responsibilities. So in this review, we outlined the best security systems for pet owners. We included systems with motion sensors that are pet-friendly, thus allowing pets to roam freely without triggering false alarms, and also systems that have special features that will help make you become a better pet owner. Without much further ado, here are our top picks.
The Best Security Systems for Pet Owners of 2020
- ADT— Most Reputable Security System for Pet Owners
- Vivint— Best Smart Home Security System for Pet Owners
- SimpliSafe— Best Pet-Friendly Security System for Renters
- Frontpoint— Best Security System with Environmental Monitoring
- Ring Alarm— Best Security System for On-the-Go Pet Owners
Overview of Our Top Picks
Although each of the five security systems on our list brings something unique to the table, our highest ratings go to ADT and Vivint. If you want a more detailed look at our two top picks, check out this comparison.
ADT is the oldest alarm company in the U.S. with unmatched experience in protecting families and homes. They do everything professionally, from the installation to monitoring, which is why we felt most secure while using the ADT system. They also have a wide selection of security equipment that we customized to fit right into our unique lifestyle. ADT protected our home and everything in it using motion sensors, door/window sensors, and the like, while the company’s smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors made sure our little fur buddy was safe whenever we were away.
Vivint is a leading home alarm company when it comes to smart home technology. We especially liked their Element smart thermostat, which kept our home’s indoor temperature spot on whether we were there to manually adjust it or not. Vivint also offers an intuitive smartphone app. It allowed us to take control of our security system and smart locks remotely to accommodate pet walkers and sitters without compromising our home’s security by putting a key under the welcome mat. Instead, we created temporary PIN codes and had complete control as to when those codes could be used.
Comparing The Best Security Systems for Pet Owners of 2020
|Self-monitoring or Professional Monitoring||Professional Monitoring||Professional Monitoring||Both||Professional Monitoring||Both|
|Monthly Fee (rounded up to the closest dollar)||$40-$60||$30-$60||$0-$25||$45-$50||$0-10|
|Installation||Professional Installation||Professional Installation||DIY or Professional||DIY||DIY|
|Installation Fee (if applies)||Starts at $99||Free||$79 (third party professional installers)||N/A||N/A|
|Equipment Cost||Depends on the equipment package||Included in the monthly fee||Packages start at $230||Packages start at $320||Packages start at $200|
|Pet-Immunity||Up to 2.5 feet tall and 85 pounds||Small and large pets with high and low sensitivity settings||Up to 25 pounds with recommended sensor placement for owners of cats and larger pets||Up to 40 pounds with recommended sensor placement for owners of cats and larger pets||Up to 50 pounds|
|Life Safety Sensors (smoke alarm, CO detectors, etc.)||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Smart Platform Integrations||Alexa, Kwikset, Z-Wave, LIftmaster, etc.||Philips Hue, Amazon Echo, Nest Thermostat, Google Home, etc.||Alexa, Google Assistant||Alexa, Google Assistant, Z-Wave||Alexa, Google Assistant, Z-Wave smart locks|
|Contract Length||3 years||Monthly or long-term depending on whether the equipment was financed or not||Monthly||Monthly||Monthly|
|Read Our Review||ADT Review||Vivint Review||SimpliSafe Review||Frontpoint Review||Ring Alarm Review|
A Detailed Look At Why They Are The Best
1. ADT— Most Secure Security System for Pet Owners
What We Liked:
- Plenty of equipment options
- Professional monitoring with cellular backup
- Over 100 years of experience
- Smart platform and security camera integrations
What We Didn’t Like:
- A little pricier than other options
- Three-year monitoring agreement
- $99 professional installation fee
- Early cancellation fees
How Pet-Friendly Is ADT?
ADT requires professional installation on all systems and quite frankly, we often consider that as a drawback because of the $99 installation fee. However, professional installation actually works in favor of pet owners. When we had an ADT system installed, we informed the technician about the two-year-old Poodle we were watching, Tucker, so he adjusted the motion sensor’s sensitivity based on his size. Tucker weighed about 50 pounds, making him a pretty medium-sized Poodle (but no body-shaming here!). He also positioned the sensor so that it pointed slightly higher than normal to avoid picking up movements on the floor. We were informed that the sensor can ignore pets up to 2.5 feet tall and 85 pounds.
Pro Tip: Before finishing up the installation, see to it that the motion sensor won’t pick up your pets’ movements but will still notice a person walking by. If the sensitivity is set too low, the sensor might not offer any protection at all.
Beyond the pet-friendly motion sensor, ADT offers security and smart features that we think will work great for pet owners. They have environmental sensors that alert homeowners of hazards like fire and carbon monoxide. They also have smart home products that can help keep pets comfortable at home. We had a smart thermostat from ADT set up so we could keep our apartment cool during summer and a smart plug so we could turn on the TV while we’re away so Tucker wouldn’t get too lonely. We also liked having an indoor security camera from ADT, which we used to check on Tucker to make sure he hasn’t destroyed the couch (he had).
Why ADT Is The Most Secure
ADT is a highly reputable company with over 140 years of experience. That alone makes ADT a formidable home security option. So what was our experience like with ADT? Well, for $40 to $60 per month, they monitored our apartment 24/7 for burglary, fire, and medical emergencies. The system had cellular backup, so it maintained a connection with ADT’s monitoring centers even during power outages, landline or Internet failures. And speaking of monitoring centers, ADT has a total of 10 facilities in different locations across the country. That level of redundancy gave us peace of mind because we knew we’ll always have access to a dispatcher even if one of those centers went down. It was for those reasons that we chose ADT as the most trustworthy option for pet owners.
2. Vivint— Best Smart Home Security System for Pet Owners
What We Liked:
- Free professional installation
- Choice of a monthly or long-term contract
- Smart platform integrations with Alexa, Google Assistant, and more
- Professional monitoring with cellular backup
What We Didn’t Like:
- Five-year contract for financed systems
- Slightly higher equipment cost than other options
- Cloud storage for security cameras costs extra
- Fees for early termination and moving
How Pet-Friendly Is Vivint?
Vivint’s motion sensor is one of the niftiest we’ve ever tested for this review. It wasn’t completely pet-immune at first, but the two switches on the back of the sensor— labeled Pet-Immunity and Sensitivity— allowed for some fine-tuning. The Pet-Immunity switch determined the size of the pet it would ignore, either large or small, while the Sensitivity switch adjusted the sensor sensitivity between high and low. Since Tucker classifies as a medium-sized dog, we set the Pet-Immunity to large and the Sensitivity to high. In that configuration, the sensor ignored our pet but still detected movements caused by humans.
Vivint also led our list when it came to technology. We found plenty of uses for the system’s smart components and features, but for pet owners like us specifically, remote access was the most useful. Using the highly-rated Vivint mobile app, we were able to remotely unlock our front door for our pet sitter, monitor her comings and goings while we were on an extended trip, and adjust the indoor temperature from anywhere. We also enjoyed using the Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro a to see and talk to our fur buddy while he played in our little backyard, while the Vivint Doorbell Camera proved as a useful tool for leaving instructions to our pet sitter.
Why Vivint Is The Best Security System With Smart Home Features
When we talk about security systems with smart home features, Vivint is always one of the first systems that come to mind. That’s because they make smart components that other systems simply cannot match. For instance, the Vivint Smart Hub gave us a one-stop control center for our entire system. From its touchscreen interface, we could arm and disarm our security system, adjust our Vivint Element thermostat, control our smart lights, and view live security camera feeds. It also paired well with our two favorite voice assistants, Alexa and Google Assistant, allowing us to command the system and connected devices with our voices. That made it easy to turn off the lights and turn down the air conditioning when it was time to sleep, but we didn’t want to stop cuddling with Tucker, a very common occurrence.
3. SimpliSafe— Best Pet-Friendly Security System for Renters
What We Liked:
- Easy DIY or professional installation
- Professional or self-monitoring
- Monthly contracts
- Affordable monthly fees
What We Didn’t Like:
- Upfront equipment purchase is required
- Limited security camera and smart home equipment
- Works as a local alarm without a monitoring subscription
- Indoor camera is vulnerable to pet-related false alarms
How Pet-Friendly Is SimpliSafe?
All SimpliSafe packages come with at least one pet-friendly motion sensor, meaning pets up to a certain size and weight won’t set off the sensor. By default, SimpliSafe’s motion sensor ignores pets that are up to 25 pounds, but if you have cats or a larger pet like Tucker, SimpliSafe offers some recommendations. For cat owners, they recommend mounting the sensor on a wall rather than on a shelf and away from furniture that your acrobatic feline friends might climb. For owners of dogs weighing more than 25 pounds like Tucker, the trick is to flip the sensor upside down and mount it four to five feet off the ground to avoid false notifications.
There are other features as well that make SimpliSafe a good security system for pet owners. For example, if used with a SimpliCam indoor camera, SimpliSafe’s monitoring center could use the camera’s feed to verify alerts.1 This might come in handy in the event of a residential fire. Not only does video verification help speed up emergency response, but it can also help emergency responders find anyone who might be trapped inside, including pets.
Why SimpliSafe Is The Best Pet-Friendly System for Renters
For apartment renters such as ourselves, finding a reliable security system can be a challenge. Fortunately, there are alarm companies like SimpliSafe that cater to renters specifically, with wireless components and monthly contracts. We particularly liked that the majority of SimpliSafe’s components were wireless, so we wouldn’t lose our security deposit after installation. Most of the sensors had peel-and-stick adhesive backings that were easy to install and remove if needed. Another great thing about SimpliSafe was that it didn’t require us to sign a long-term contract. Their monthly contracting allowed us to cancel our monitoring subscription if we wanted without paying an early termination fee. Plus, the DIY installation also made the system easy to move as there are no moving fees whatsoever; since we live in New York, we move way more than we would like, so this was a godsend. We could simply box up the system and take it with us to our new address, which is hopefully a slight improvement over the last one.
4. Frontpoint— Best Security System with Environmental Monitoring
What We Liked:
- Plenty of equipment packages to choose from
- Monthly contracts
- All-inclusive professional monitoring (burglary, fire, medical emergencies)
- Stellar customer service
What We Didn’t Like:
- Slightly higher monthly rates than other options
- Use of security cameras requires a higher monthly fee
- No option to self-monitor
- No smart home components included in the lower-tier plan
How Pet-Friendly Is Frontpoint?
Frontpoint’s motion sensors are immune to pets up to 40 pounds, which means most small and medium-sized dog breeds likely won’t run into much trouble with the sensor. However, that’s not to say that there will be no pet-related false alarms at all. Much like SimpliSafe, Frontpoint recommends placing motion sensors away from shelves and on any furniture that cats may climb. And for large dog owners, Frontpoint suggests limiting the use of motion sensors to places not frequented by pets, so their system may not be the best option if your pup is a bigger boy or girl.
Although the pet-immunity of Frontpoint’s motion sensor wasn’t anything extraordinary, we found other useful features for pet owners, particularly with the Ultimate Plan. For about $50 per month, the Ultimate Plan included video monitoring features, which we used to check on our Tucker while we were away. And thanks to the cloud storage included in the plan, we were able to share his funny antics, like harassing the mailman, to our friends right from the Frontpoint app. The Ultimate Plan also included smart home features, which allowed us to remotely open our door to our sitter using Frontpoint’s Yale-branded Z-Wave smart lock and turn on our Z-Wave LED lights for our pup whenever we were staying out late. He doesn’t love the dark, and who can blame him?
Why Frontpoint Is The Best System With Environmental Monitoring
Besides the fact that Frontpoint offers components that cover all bases when it comes to environmental monitoring— smoke, fire, carbon monoxide, flood, and temperature— Frontpoint also professionally monitored all our environmental sensors without any added charge. In contrast, we’ve seen other companies charge a small additional monthly fee for features like fire and carbon monoxide monitoring. On top of that, the Frontpoint Hub, the device that connects the system to the monitoring center, has a tamper sensor. It will alert Frontpoint in case of physical damage to the device, so Frontpoint can still send help even if, let’s say, the Hub was engulfed in flames. Every second counts during a fire, especially if you have pets left at home, and it is in that situation that Frontpoint’s environmental monitoring and tamper-resistant Hub really shine.
5. Ring Alarm— Best Security System for On-the-Go Pet Owners
What We Liked:
- $10 a month or $100 a year professional monitoring fee
- Monthly or annual contracts
- Works well with Ring cameras and video doorbells
- Easy, DIY installation
What We Didn’t Like:
- Third-party smart locks only
- Cellular backup requires professional monitoring service
- History of privacy concerns
- No native app control for smart devices besides smart locks
How Pet-Friendly Is The Ring Alarm?
The motion sensor that came with our Ring Alarm system was pet-friendly to some degree. By default, it was super sensitive to all kinds of movement, but Ring’s mobile app provided us a way to reduce the sensor’s sensitivity. At the medium setting, it ignored pets less than 30 pounds. At the lowest setting, it was immune to pets up to 50 pounds. However, it wasn’t immune to larger pets, so Ring recommends limiting the use of the sensor to areas where there aren’t a lot of pet movement, a bit of a disappointment for owners of bigger animals.
FYI: After activating the professional monitoring service, Ring has a seven-day test period, during which the system won’t send alerts to the monitoring center to give users time to familiarize themselves with the system. We suggest using that time to fine-tune the sensitivity of positioning of the motion sensor to minimize false alarms.
Part of what made the Ring Alarm a good security system for pet owners was Ring’s strong security camera offering. Ring has an affordable indoor camera and a bevy of outdoor and doorbell cameras. We particularly liked the Ring Indoor Cam and Ring Stick Up Cam Battery outdoor camera. The indoor camera gave us an inexpensive way to monitor our pet’s behavior remotely to make sure he’s not feeling too lonely, while the outdoor camera let us watch our Tucker play outside— with the sitter, of course. Another aspect we liked about Ring was the affordability of the professional monitoring plan. For only $10 a month, or $100 per year if you want to save, we got professional monitoring as well as 60 days of cloud storage for an unlimited number of Ring cameras. Many traditional alarm companies charge at least $30 per month for monitoring alone and up to $60 per month to include mobile app access and cloud recording, so this was quite the steal.
Why Ring Alarm Is The Security System for Pet Owners With The Best Mobile App
A huge part of the Ring Alarm experience hinged on the Ring— Always Home app. The app was responsible for controlling the system, receiving alerts, and streaming live videos. Fortunately, we found it very reliable. True to its name, the app made us feel like we were always at home, even if we were actually miles away. All in all, the user-friendly interface gave us quick and easy access to our security system, security cameras, video doorbells, and video recordings right from our pocket. All these are valuable features for on-the-go pet owners.
Video Summary of the Best Security Systems for Pet Owners
So that’s our list of the best security systems for pet owners. If you want a condensed version of this review, check out the video summary below made by our Chief Editor Gabe Turner, with the help of his special guest Pepper— a lovable Beagle.
Methodology: How We Ranked The Best Security Systems for Pet Owners
We know how tedious choosing a security system for a house with pets can be. One of the biggest challenges is finding components, specifically motion sensors, that can tolerate the presence of pets. If you use a motion sensor that notices every movement, even that of pets, you’ll end up receiving false alarms incessantly, or worse, get slapped with a hefty fine from the police if it happens repeatedly. Many major cities across the U.S. now levy fees for unnecessary police dispatches caused by false alarms. The fees usually start at around $25 for the first instance and increase drastically if there are multiple instances within a short period.2 That’s why all the five security systems on our list offer motion sensors that are pet-friendly.
The availability of home automation features and smart home devices is another criterion we set for this list. Smart home products like smart thermostats and smart lights can help keep your home comfortable for your pets even while you’re away. And for people like us who are always on the go, home automation features can automate some routine tasks like adjusting the thermostat based on certain triggers. For instance, we had our thermostat set up to lower the temperature as soon as our security system was disarmed, meaning we were home, much to Tucker’s delight.
Of course, keeping our pets safe is a top priority, which is why our list includes systems that can monitor for home hazards like fire and toxic gases. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, about 40,000 pets perish in residential home fires each year, mostly from inhaling smoke.3 Smoke alarms linked to a central monitoring station can dispatch help within minutes. Those precious minutes greatly increase your pets’ chances of survival in case a fire breaks out while you’re away.
Did You Know: With their curious nature, pets and wild animals start about 750 home fires each year according to the National Fire Protection Association.4 That’s another reason for pet owners to get monitored smoke alarms.
Beyond those criteria, we chose security systems that offer the highest overall value, the best of the best. What does that mean specifically? Well, we took into account their monthly costs, upfront equipment and installation costs, equipment options, mobile apps, customer support, contract lengths, smart platform integrations, and security camera integrations. We also tested their actual performance, seeing how well the systems worked, and how easy they were to install.
Based on our experience, security systems monitored professionally offer the highest level of protection, but we also give credit to those that support both professional and self-monitoring. Professional monitoring is when the security system is linked to a central monitoring station. They can dispatch emergency help in case of a break-in, fire, or medical emergency. Whether you’re available to report the incident or not, the monitoring station will call for help on your behalf.
On the equipment side of things, we prefer alarm companies that offer security, life safety, smart home, and video monitoring devices. We also like it when the system uses cellular monitoring or has cellular backup. The use of cellular signal ensures that alerts go through to the monitoring center even during power outages, which is when landline and Wi-Fi reliant security systems tend to fail. Cellular transmission is also less vulnerable to tampering than landline monitoring.
Finally, when it comes to the monitoring contract, month-to-month contracts are preferable over long-term contracts, in our opinion. With a month-to-month contract, you can cancel the monitoring service anytime without worrying about cancellation fees. In contrast, long-term contracts require you to finish the agreement term or pay the remaining value of the contract to get out. However, there are instances that we recommend long-term contracts, such as when the homeowner wants equipment financing. Most companies that offer month-to-month contracts require an upfront equipment purchase, while those with long-term contracts afford their customers lower upfront costs. Plus, some companies use a price-lock for long-term contracts, so it could also come down to personal preference for you.
FAQs About Pet Friendly Security Systems
- Are all motion sensors pet-immune?
Not all motion sensors are pet-immune. However, at the very least, most motion sensors will ignore pets less than 20 pounds. If you have a larger pet or a cat with the propensity for climbing furniture, you must look for motion sensors that are specifically described as pet-immune or pet-friendly.
- Can I communicate with my pets while I'm away using my security system?
You can communicate and check on your pets remotely using any security system as long as it has the right components and features. You’ll need an indoor camera with two-way audio, a mobile app that can stream video from the camera in real-time, and a strong Wi-Fi or cellular connection.
- Can barking dogs set off glass break sensors?
Glass break sensors are triggered by loud noises that register at similar decibels and pitches as the sound of glass breaking, so it is possible for a dog’s bark to set off glass break sensors. To avoid false alarms, we suggest placing glass break sensors in rooms inaccessible to pets or adjusting their sensitivity.
- Can pets trigger motion-activated security cameras?
Whether your camera uses PIR motion sensors or computer vision to detect movement, pets can trigger motion-activated cameras. However, there are features like person detection, facial recognition, and activity zones that can reduce the chances of false alarms.
Salt Lake City Police Department. (2020). Verified Response Really Does Work.
Urban Institute. (2012). Opportunities for Police Cost Savings Without Sacrificing Service Quality.
AVMA. (2018). When fire strikes home.
National Fire Protection Association. (2018). Pet Fire Safety.