Simple GPS dog tracker solution - specifics inside!
September 26, 2022 4:06 PM   Subscribe

We are looking for a GPS/tracker solution for a 50 lb dog. My dad is the customer and he is not interested in a lot of features, just a real simple way to find the dog if she runs off (which is rare). They live in a rural area (USA, New England) with fair cell coverage. Is there a type of tracker that is small, inexpensive, has a long battery life, a good app, and low monthly fees? Or, what have you? The available options are over the top for his needs.

Can answer follow-ups! We don't need any major features, no "fences", etc. We don't even need alerts. Just a fob/unit that, when carefully maintained, can be a reliable tracker when needed.
posted by lakersfan1222 to Pets & Animals (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I have no experience with these products generally or this product specifically but when I typed "simple small gps location tag" into a search engine, the image for these turned up, so I clicked it, and it looks like it would do what you need.
posted by aniola at 4:24 PM on September 26, 2022

Nevermind, one of the reviews says: "Wouldn't use to track a kid or dog. Once out of range you have to reconnect. Ok for use around the house. I use for tracking model rockets because it beeps when out of range."
posted by aniola at 4:27 PM on September 26, 2022 [1 favorite]

This post compares the Whistle Go pet tracker to an Apple airtag. The Whistle Go seems pricey ($130-$150) and has a yearly subscription ($99), but since you're in a rural area, it seems a much safer bet than an Apple airtag.
posted by yasaman at 4:51 PM on September 26, 2022 [1 favorite]

In addition, get a tag with your dad's phone number. In my experience, dogs find their way home, but are sometimes detained by humans who think they are helping a stray dog. Apple Air tags are cheap and you could easily add one, plus a GPS one.
posted by theora55 at 6:12 PM on September 26, 2022

We have Fi, which is a competitor to Whistle and the other devices you’ve probably looked at. Whistle and Fi run off of the AT&T network. They are all a little chunky (I think Fi is 47g) but our little corgi seems to do fine with it. The notifications are a lot at first but you can configure them to only alert when she leaves the area (or none). Battery life is pretty good (a couple weeks probably; but we haven’t had any trouble since she’s usually close to the home Wi-Fi base or our phones). We do live in an urban environment but we hike sometimes and it’s been useful to have that peace of mind. Hopefully someone who lives in a more rural environment can hop in.

I would say that if you want a custom Fi collar that goes with the unit, they can run a little pricey (and take a little time to make) but we do love our biothane one (also has her info engraved on it).

I did get her Fi for $49 on Black Friday last year and they were just running a promo for National Dog Week last week for $79, so whichever company you go with, I’d try to keep an eye out for promos or promos from last year that they may do this year.
posted by sincerely yours at 11:45 PM on September 26, 2022

I use a Pawfit for my dog. It's great. It's clipped onto my dog's harness, and detaches from its mount to recharge every 5-6 days. The device was about £50. I'm 9 months into a 1 year subscription that cost something like £40, and will happily renew that subscription next year. There's a pay-by-the-month option that works out to be a little more expensive, around £5 per month. Waterproof, long battery life, rugged as hell, and with a good map interface—it's a good buy.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 12:51 AM on September 27, 2022 [1 favorite]

I came in here to recommend Pawfit too. I chose it as a compromise between size, price, and battery life. I have two of them, and, based off a few months' experience, the batteries usually last 7 days for me. It does depend on your animal and how active they are, and how often you use the battery-intensive features such as the light and the 'find' feature. The GPS may not be accurate enough to find a pet that is sleeping, trapped inside a shed or outbuilding, or determined to stay lost, but if your dog will come when called (and you just want to know the area in which to call!) then it should be fine.

The app is good in my opinion - simple to use and I haven't found any bugs.

I also tried an Apple AirTag. It was fairly useless inside our house (we have thick walls) and seems to have a limited range outside unless you are around a lot of other people with iPhones. The battery life, however, is great - approx 1 year.
posted by badmoonrising at 5:45 AM on September 27, 2022 [1 favorite]

We use Whistle and have really liked it - it's unobtrusive, keeps a charge for a good 2 weeks or so, and has definitely assisted us with dog-retrieval the one or two times our beast has tried to take herself to the park.

The latest version we have has had some trouble maintaining signal, so we're going back to the "less modern" version on the theory that the latest model just isn't quite out of beta.
posted by invincible summer at 3:34 PM on September 27, 2022

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