Would You Buy a GPS Tracker for Your Dog?

I definitely would if I had a young dog. Currently my two older cockers barely leave my side. They’re Velcro dogs. A young dog is more likely to wander. But even with an older dog, who knows what goes through their heads when they see, or smell an opportunity?

I still remember Chipper, our family’s cocker spaniel when I was eleven years old back in 1970. He was about eight at that time and always hung around the yard when we were outside. We didn’t have a fence. One day I was in my yard with friends and we decided to go to one of their houses. Chipper was just lying on the grass and I “forgot” to bring him into the house. Really, I was just lazy.

Sandy Kubillus & Chipper in 1968
Chipper and me when I was 9.

An hour later, I came home and Chipper was gone. My Mom, older brother and sister all went looking around the neighborhood for him. He had never run away before. We hoped Chipper didn’t go towards the busy street only a block away. I rode my bike around the neighborhood and called his name everywhere. It grew dark. No one found him.

Needless to say, we all had a miserable evening. I never told anyone until now, that it was my fault. The next morning—Chipper had not returned. I must have looked miserable at school, since my teacher called me out into the hall and asked me what had happened. We thought Chipper was gone forever—likely hit by a car.

Twenty-four hours after we had last seen Chipper, a police officer called and said they found a dog with an expired rabies tag. Back in those days, no one followed up if a dog didn’t have a current rabies vaccine. Chipper only had the tag since he had reportedly bitten a kid the year before from an open window in our parked car. Because of that bite (which my dad said looked like a scratch), Chipper had his shots updated. If he hadn’t had that tag, we would have never seen him again.

Chipper had walked five miles straight north, past multiple busy streets, and collapsed on the street in a cul-du-sac. The kids in the neighborhood mentioned seeing a dog at lunchtime, but everyone thought he’d wander away. He didn’t move. Finally, one parent decided to call the police, who checked his tag and called us.

My whole family piled into our car to go retrieve Chipper. He could barely stand, but wagged his stumpy tail when he saw us. Dad scooped him up and placed him on my mom’s lap for the ride home. Chipper slept through to the next day and survived another four years. Mom bought a name tag with our phone number and kept his rabies tags up to date. We never knew how Chipper had survived, but Mom resolved never to let it happen again.

Pet GPS Trackers

I just read an article in Veterinary Advantage about pet gps devices. I hadn’t known these existed before, but it makes sense with all the other tracking devices that people use like Fitbits. Of course I have heard of radio collars to track wildlife, but now anyone could buy one for their pet. When I googled “GPS devices for dogs,” I found many on the market. Most are attachments to the dog’s collar.

Two types of trackers exist:

  • Radio trackers, which are what they use for hunting dogs, but they have a limited range, similar to a Walkie Talkie. These have been around for a long time.
    • According to Top 13 GPS Trackers for your Pets, the range on some can vary from 400 feet to 9 miles, and batteries can last from a day to several months. Costs range from $100 – $800.
  • GPS trackers use new technology and real time data. They typically require a monthly subscription since they use cellular data.
    • Range is not an issue with gps units, but the battery life typically is only a few days to at most two weeks. Costs range from $100 – $250 with monthly subscriptions from free (for the more expensive models) to about $10/month, according to Top 13 GPS Trackers for your Pets.

Both types have limitations. With the battery needing constant recharging, it’s hard to see gps trackers as worthwhile. But I guess it’s like our phones, which can only last a day or two. Just if you decide to buy one, make sure you keep it charged.

According to the Pet Wearables article, gps trackers are just in their infancy. Maybe by the time I get my next young dog, we can implant a gps device like their identity microchips! Hopefully that won’t be too far off. J

Please let me know if you would buy a gps tracker for your dog, and if so, would you remember to keep it charged?

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