Best Dog GPS tracker?
December 1, 2009 10:09 AM   Subscribe

Recommendations for a Dog GPS collar?

Hey guys, I want your opinion on this. It's almost 2010, and Dog tracking GPS collars have been around for a while now. So have keychain dongles for tracking your belongings. I want to know whats the best, reasonably priced device for my needs.

Long story short, I own a bar and my little dog (Rat Terrier, 17lbs) is my constant companion while I'm working. The customers lover her, and she's a sweetheart. I want a system in place that will (A) let me locate her if she ever sneaks outside.. or if someone tries to walk off with her and (B) sound an alarm if she ever wanders close to the door. The bar is pretty long, so most of the time she never goes near the door anyways, so I'd like an alarm on my end to go off should she end up over there. Extra points if it has an 'invisible fence' option that will both alarm me and make an annoying noise to her so she knows to stay away from the exit unless I'm carrying/walking her.

Several of the devices built specifically for dogs seem incredibly overpriced without bringing much to the table. Most I've seen involve a monthly fee and only let me locate my dog a couple times a month. This obviously seems silly since most GPS units don't require a service plan, and if they do then they don't limit me to how often I can use them.

I know its important to set your fears at ease-- she's got her own little safe place to hide when we're busy or she's tired. She's only out and about when we're slow. This is also a nice, relaxed and classy bar with a lot of focus on art and good music. Not a 'lets go out and get TRASHED and break stuff!!' kind of place. Most of our clientele is 25+. We don't serve food, so health code isn't an issue. Outside the bar is a very pedestrian friendly street with huge sidewalks, a patio area (Fayetteville Street in Raleigh)

I could probably get by with even a very rudimentary system but it'd be nice to be able to pull up a graphic showing my dogs location. The ideal solution would be a dongle that hangs from her collar and has the ability to do both (A) and (B) from above, so it doesn't necessarily have to be made specifically for a dog. Also, should she wander off, it wouldn't be hard to find her as long as I know right when she leaves-- there aren't a lot of woods for her to hide in.
posted by ZackTM to Grab Bag (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
This obviously seems silly since most GPS units don't require a service plan

A GPS receiver is a passive device which determines its own location by listening to the GPS satellites.

You want something that will report that location. That means it needs to talk to a cell tower, which means paying recurring fees.
posted by dmd at 11:14 AM on December 1, 2009

Response by poster: DMD, thats a good point!

I'm not opposed to paying a monthly fee at all if it's a worthwhile service.
posted by ZackTM at 1:03 PM on December 1, 2009

It sounds to me like you're talking about two different things: 1. some way to locate her if she gets out of the bar, and 2. some way to know if she's leaving the bar.

#1 would probably indeed be GPS or cell-phone tower related, require a monthly plan, etc.

#2 is most probably not GPS-related, but rather RFID or the like. You put a sensor by the door, and if she gets within a certain distance, an alarm goes off--like an invisible fence, but instead of shocking her, it emits an alarm. Should be cheaper, easy to install and not require monthly charges.

A better analogy is theft-prevention for retail. Sensor by door. If an item with the tracking device goes through the door, alarm.

Seems to be that if you do #2, then #1 is much less of a risk.

For #2, you might talk to companies that do theft-prevention devices for retail. Maybe it's as easy as installing the sensor and gluing a device to her collar/tags.
posted by tippiedog at 1:26 PM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

It seems like something attached to the dog's collar could be easily be circumvented by simply taking the collar off.

Does your dog have a microchip already? The wands that animal control uses to scan a stray really have to be touching the animal to get a reading, so by themselves they'd be pretty useful, but if you could figure out a way to make a Super Scanning Wand that resides by the door, you would have a starting point.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 3:53 PM on December 1, 2009

I meant to write "by themselves they'd be pretty useLESS" - sorry!
posted by SuperSquirrel at 3:54 PM on December 1, 2009

A GPS location is not what you want. You will probably not get an accurate enough signal inside to track her, even +/- 10-20 ft will put her outside your bar half the time. It's nowhere near accurate enough to sense if the dog is near the door / not near the door for an alarm etc. You need an 'invisible fence' type of product, plus an alarm which sounds for you when the invisible fence goes off. Of course, I'm not sure how that works when you turn the fence off and carry the dog through.
posted by defcom1 at 5:36 PM on December 1, 2009

I have a similar issue and haven't decided on a solution yet. I am thinking to stop in to the Bass Pro Shop (it looks like the closest to you is in Concord/Charlotte, which is kind of far but maybe keep it in mind) and ask them about options. If you have a similar store closer to you it could be worthwhile.

I read above about the RFID/sensor idea, which makes a lot of sense for warning re: approaching the door.

No clue how expensive this would be, but how about invisible fencing the perimeter of the patio? That way she could go outside if you wanted but really couldn't wander off. I don't have any personal experience with invisible fences, because my type of dog does not respect them, apparently.
posted by KAS at 6:18 AM on December 2, 2009

OFF TOPIC: If your dog grits her teeth, sprints across the invisible fence and runs around the neighborhood with you chasing and cursing, and then finally gets bored and stands outside the fence waiting for you to catch up, DO NOT grab her by the collar to drag her into the house.

I'm just sayin'.
posted by tippiedog at 9:37 AM on December 2, 2009

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