Dealing with a stubborn dog

I just got into home automation and setup SmartThings this past weekend and I am hitting a use case I’m having a hard time resolving.

I have the system set to arm the alarm automatically when everyone leaves. This has been working great, but my dog is pretty stubborn sometimes and hides when we are trying to leave so he doesn’t always get put in his cage.

I was thinking about putting an open/close senor on his cage door but is there some way I could have it set so it will automatically set the mode to armed (away) if he is in his cage and armed (stay) if he is not?

Depending on the size of the dog, it’s probably more reliable to use a pressure mat sensor underneath the crate that would be able to tell if the dog was in the crate or not.

If you’re saying that you want to just catch yourself having actually closed the crate door or not, it’s not impossible, but it’s going to be tricky because of the amount of metal involved in most crates. Contact sensors use magnets and overtime the metal itself can become magnetized, which throws off the sensor. People often have problems with these with metal gates, for example.

Anyway, in either case it would be pretty easy to do what you want from the arm/disarm standpoint. You would set up a virtual presence sensor for the dog which would say that the dog was “away” when in the crate. Then whatever you have set up to arm should only run when everyone is away. That way you don’t have to worry about the timing for getting out the door. The dog will count as away as soon as they are in the crate, but the people in the family will still look like they’re home until they have actually left the house.


Neat idea of JD’s though you may find on occasion the hub/SHM doesn’t react quick enough changing mode and may get some false alerts.

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True. You may have to experiment with different options.

Thanks for the response. Is there a way to make the door sensor a virtual presence? I’m looking and I can’t see any way to do that.

I’m honestly not sure: @tgauchat or one of the other master coders would know. But You don’t have to make the door sensor itself a virtual sensor, you can definitely have it turn on a virtual switch which is also a virtual presence sensor. :sunglasses:

Here’s one example:


Yup… Or make a custom personal copy of the Door Contact Sensor DTH and add Capability Presence Sensor and some related Event emissions.

I have a cat that continuously turns on the light. I have a SmartThings motion sensor. What I ended up doing was mounting it high on the wall and putting tape over the lower half of the bubble. On the main level where the dog usually is I have a Ecolink Z-Wave PIR Motion Detector, Pet Immune (PIRZWAVE2-ECO) it does very well with a little bit bigger than medium sized dog.

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Thanks everyone. That virtual presence thing looks like it will be perfect and I’ve set it up and once I get it hooked to a sensor it should work perfectly. Thanks!


Using the virtual switch device also gives you the option to limit the connection between the crate sensor and that virtual presence indicator to just certain times of day or certain modes. So that the sensor triggering turns on the presence sensor, but only when you want to do so.

That way if you wanted to do crate training practice with your dog to increase his tolerance of the crate, you could do it without his away/home indicator going on and off all the time. Or if you just wanted to put him in the crate for a little while because you had guests over or whatever.

By the way, Sue Garrett has a great DVD called CRATE GAMES which is just training protocols designed to help your dog enjoy being in the crate. She does a lot of dog sports so she designed a program for those dogs since they have to go to a competition and spend a lot of time in the crate while other dogs are running around on the equipment. Very challenging, obviously.

Anyway, it’s a very different method than most crate training, because it’s high energy. Some of the games have the dog running into the crate as fast as they can, or running out of the crate as fast as they can. It’s not the usual just put them in there and slowly build up time duration. They really are games that are fun for the dog.

The DVD is expensive, $35 new, but you can sometimes find it used or even at some libraries.

There’s a one minute sample on YouTube, you can see how much fun the dogs are having.

Our service dog trainer recommends this DVD for both pet dogs and service dogs.

Dogwise or CleanRun sometimes have it on sale, it’s worth checking:

For our dogs it is all about the food. Feed them in the crate and they will love being there. Do it often and they will eventually put themselves in there at random times even.

My biggest dog problem is mine are huge and they set off motion sensors even on pet settings. Food doesn’t solve that.