LoJacking Fido: Why Your Dog Might Need GPS

Dog Escaping
Thinkstock

Would you ever consider LoJacking your dog? I would. In a heartbeat. In fact, I’m currently considering it.

Keeping a digital leash on your dog has never been easier, cheaper or more realistic — for even the tiniest of dogs. Past iterations of GPS tracking devices have been clunky, pricey and problem-prone. Thank goodness for technological innovation!

Newer iterations of the heavyweight GPS collar of the past are lighter, sleeker and more integrated into the collar. Not only does that add up to comfort and wearability, it’s kind of unobtrusively stealthy, which is important should theft be an issue. After all, a big black box on your dog’s collar is a dead giveaway that something is amiss.

Why Go With Doggie GPS?

There are three big reasons to put a device like this on your dog: theft, breakout artistry and reckless roaming.

I happen to live with the chronic risk of the last two possibilities. And anyone living in Miami with a desirable breed (French Bulldog, in my case) has to consider the very real possibility of theft. That’s why leaving my Vincent alone in the car while it’s running — just to grab a Starbucks brew — is such a fraught thing. Nor would I leave him alone in my yard for hours at a time. Although I live in a nice neighborhood, someone could still puppy-nap him!

You might think that I exaggerate, but it happens a lot in my part of the world. More typically, however, it will happen less nefariously — like when a purebred dog gets lost and simply never finds his way home again after getting scooped up by a do-gooder who decides to keep the desirable pup.

These newfangled GPS devices are an extra-great solution for those of us whose pets are confirmed breakaway artists. Not only do they do the job should any big meanies decide that your dog will be better off with them, but they’ll let you know as soon as your pet gives you the slip.

A New and Improved Breed of Gadget

You can now program these devices to the coordinates for an enclosure as small as a few square feet. This way, you don’t have to wait for someone to pick up your pet off the street. As soon as your dog breaks through the gate, your phone will ring. Some even have continuous, real-time tracking capabilities so you can figure out where he escaped, follow his path and get him back home as quickly as possible.

Then there’s the third reason you might need a GPS tracker: He has a way of going rogue when you’re out on walks or hikes. These dogs definitely need GPS collars lest you end up spending an afternoon stressing about your buddy instead of enjoying your time off.

Although a GPS device like this will never replace the lowly ID tag or the now-standard microchip, a collar with a GPS locator is becoming increasingly attractive now that its pricing is starting to improve, along with its design.

Tagg Collar
Courtesy of Tagg—The Pet Tracker

A Vet's Top Picks

Zoombak For about $200, you can get this sleek black case to put on your dog’s collar. A $9.99-a-month plan is required to activate and maintain its cellular functions.

RoamEO Also goes for $200, but it looks more "old-school" and doesn’t have all those call-your-cell bells and whistles. The plus side is that it has no monthly fee.

Tagg—The Pet Tracker This is the coolest of the bunch. For $99.95, you get all the hardware: Tagg™ tracker, docking station, collar clip assembly and a power kit. For $7.95 a month, you get all the cool connectivity features, like getting text messages when your pooch goes astray and being able to track his location online.


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