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Finding Fido with GPS and High Tech Dog Locators
Loc8tor, Collar Tags, Found Dogs, Tagg and
one must-have smartphone app


color image of Garmin Wireless Dog Tracking Collar
Garmin Wireless Transmitter Collar

Few things are more stressful than losing your little dog. Everything you can think of that might happen to him is awful. You don't know if s/he'll be attacked by a larger dog, mistreated by a new owner or savaged by a coyote.

Fortunately, there are some high-tech tools you can use to help find your dog, but don't overlook the most obvious and least expensive tool: have your dog microchipped
(see http://www.toybreeds.com/microchips.htm) and keep your contact information updated at the microchip registry.

Today's tracking options range from computer-based Universal Serial Bus (USB) collar tags to satellite GPS.

GPS (Global Positioning System)

GPS is a satellite-based navigation system developed by the U.S. Department of Defense but now available 24/7 for civilian use. It's great if your dog is outside within a limited range, but traditional GPS does not work well inside structures, such as homes and garages.

Assisted GPS (AGPS)

Assisted GPS means the satellite contacts cellular networks. You can locate your dog even in a heavily wooded area or possibly inside a garage.

You're probably wondering then why anyone would then choose traditional GPS. The pluses for GPS are that you aren't required to sign up for a service plan and that you aren't relying on a third-party cell phone company to find your dog.

Popular products

Here's a summary of some of the most popular products that are sized for a Toy breed dog.

Loc8tor Pet - Ultimate Wireless Pet Locator

This one is advertised for cats but it works just the same for small dogs. I found that many of systems advertised for dogs were designed for larger hunting dogs and the collars rarely fit my little ones.

This wireless locator is a good one. Put the tag which is housed in a silicone protector on your dog's collar. You can set an Alert Mode that will send you a signal if your dog crosses a predefined boundary such as the front door sill. Or, just use the locator when you want to know where your dog is.

The credit card size handset will pick up the signal emitting from your dog's collar as soon as you press the locate button, provided you're in range.

If you do this very often, your dog will soon recognize the beeping on his collar as a sign that you want him to come home.

Keep in mind the drawback of GPS; however, this device only works for a dog within 400 feet of the receiver.

There is a more expensive upgrade to this one in Loc8tor PLUS Locator Plus - Pet Handheld Pet Finder | Pet Locator | Lost Item Finder. It has a range up to 600 feet compared to the less expensive version above and comes with 24 tags compared to 2 tags with the unit above.

Garmin Astro 220 Dog Tracking GPS Bundle with DC40 Wireless Transmitter Collar

This product from Garmin was designed to track hunting dogs that might get lost in dense brush or run astray in search of a downed bird. It works well around the neighborhood but is expensive. (see picture at top of page)

Garmin is a well known manufacturer of GPS equipment and you may have one of their devices for your car already. The dog collar has all the features of Garmin's top-line handheld outdoor device including Micro SD card interface and can pinpoint your dog's position every 5 seconds.

The included map shows highways, but not surface roads. It costs another $100 to download detailed topography maps. It has a compass and a barometric altimeter to provide elevation profiles for climbers and hikers. It also comes with some games and a calculator although I don't see the value in those.

The collar is also big and bulky for a small dog although you may laugh when you see your small dog running around with an antenna sticking up from his collar.

If you're a Garmin fan and your dog is an escape artist or you live nearby wild areas, this might be a good but expensive choice. If you take your dog hiking or camping in remote areas, this also is a good choice. Garmin is noted for both its high quality and its excellent customer service.

For the average urban pet owner, however,it may be more money than value. You also might consider waiting for the Tagg pet tracker that is being designed for small dogs and see which one offers the best features for your situation.

Tagg--The Pet Tracker

This product has won raves for its accuracy at pet trade shows. It's a lightweight device that looks like wristwatch but is attached to your dog's collar so you can monitor him 24/7.

It's nice because you can track your dog real-time on your smartphone with an app or even via text messaging.

To use Tagg, you need a home computer and cellphone. You program your dog's safety zone and when he leaves that space, you get an email or text message where he's gone. You can track his movements until you find him.

There is a monthly service charge. Like the Garmin model, this one was designed for larger dogs but the company plans to introduce a size for Toy breeds in the near future.

Small Tag Systems

KittyCatTrack GPS System (again, ignore "kitty" as this works for any small pet) -
Attach the lightweight tracker to your dog's collar, use the USB cable to charge it using your computer and then monitor his moves using Google maps. This is a low-cost basic system that does its job.

Another lightweight system with very small tags is EZ-FIND! 25 Item New Design Electronic Locator with Mini Tags This comes with 25 tags you place on your favorite objects in addition to your dog. When when you want to know where Fido or the TV remote can be found, you hit the 'find' key. Another low-cost basic system that does the job and more

color image of red PetHub Smartphone ID Tag
PetHub Smartphone ID Tag

color image of Flexi Pc Pet ID Tag

If someone (technically astute) finds your lost dog

The PetHub Smartphone ID Tag allows anyone with a smartphone (iPhone, Android or Blackberry) or other Internet-enabled device to scan the tag on your dog's collar and read the information you have placed on the PetHub website. After the initial purchase, there's no further charge and you can update your dog's contact information anytime you want. There is an optional paid plan that includes pet medical insurance.


Another solution is the Flexi PC Pet ID Tag. It's a USB flash drive inside a water-proof aluminum casing that goes on your dog's collar. Someone who finds your dog can untwist the aluminum cap, plug the USB into a computer and read the information you created to reunite you with your dog.

Zoombak ZMBK100 Advanced GPS Dog Locator - Mentioned in October 2011 issue of Women's World and on the Martha Stewart television show, this one offers GPS satellite and cellular technologies but requires an annual service fee. My opinion is its high profile publicity is more the reflection of a talented public relations staff than the quality of the product.

For Android Smartphones

There's the PetTech PetSaver App that can be downloaded for less than $6. It can access your dog's medical and dental records, locate the nearest emergency vet hospital, and provide step-by-step instructions on treating an injured dog.

Download photos of your dog, create a reminder file for medications or shots, scroll down a list of poisonous plants with pictures and assess the health of your dog with a helpful guide.

Although not a tracking device, this app is so comprehensive and low cost, it should be in every dog owner's Android smart phone.

If you're using an iPhone or iPad, purchase at http://www.pettech.net/index.php

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