by Brent Dirks
June 16, 2012
My beagle, Luke, has a tiny problem – he likes to go wherever his nose takes him. And more often than not, that’s out of my house. While he’s mostly an inside dog, he always seems to have a knack of escaping at the most inopportune moments. Most recently, he decided to take advantage of a barely opened door to make his way through our neighborhood while we were gone for the day. If it wasn’t for the kindness of a dog-loving neighbor who caught up with him, I can’t imagine what might have happened. While there are products like invisible fences to stop a dog from escaping, I’ve never wanted to use an electric shock. And many beagles are so stubborn, even the shock doesn’t even faze them. But pet lovers fear not. Snaptracs, a Qualcomm company, has come up with an interesting, iOS-powered solution. Think of the Tagg Pet Tracker as Find my iPhone for your pet.
The HardwareThe master edition includes the tracker, docking station, collar clip assembly, and power kit. The heart of the system – the tracker – is very sleak and lightweight. It can be best described as a looking like the top half small wristwatch that weighs in at a svelte 1.16 ounces. After charging the tracker fully, you can attach it to your pet’s collar with the clip. Installation was very easy. My dog is fairly small at 30 pounds, and yet the tracker has not bothered him at all and fits right into his collar. Snaptracs does say that your pet must be 10 pounds or larger for the tracker to fit. The tracker combines a GPS system with cell phone technology on the Verizon network. After you charge the tracker, you must go to the Tagg website to set up your account. The process was fairly easy, and I was able to set a geofence of 75 yards around my house. If Luke ever escapes that barrier, the tracking system will automatically kick in. Unless the tracker is being charged or updated with new software, it is designed to be worn by your pet at all times. Snaptracs said it could even be worn while your dog is swimming.
The AppAfter setting up ways to contact you via text or email if your pet escapes, you can download the free Tagg app from the App Store. It is designed to work with the iPhone but looked OK on my iPad. The Tagg app is very simple, but it does a great job of helping you to locate your pet if you ever need to. With the app, there are two ways to find your pet – track and locate. Locate is a one-time ping of the Tagg tracker. With the tracking option, you can receive your pet’s location every 3 minutes for a 30-minute timeframe. According to Snaptracs, the tracker’s battery can last for up to 30 days if your pet stays near the home base station that is used to charge and update the tracker. If your pet stays outside often, the battery life could be shorter. In my experience, the battery pretty much held up to its claim. Since Luke spends most of his time inside, except for a daily walk, the tracker went around three weeks on a single charge. I also liked that you can receive a text and email notification when the tracker needs to be charged and when it is ready to place back on your pet. Since I wasn’t exactly going to let my dog escape on purpose to test exactly how the system works, I decided to take Luke out for a walk one night. And instead of putting the tracker into walk mode to disable any alerts, I just decided to simulate an escape and see how Tagg responded. And it did a great job. Almost immediately after walking out of the geofence, I was notified me that Luke had left the home zone. Opening the app showed me within about 20 yards where Luke was located along with my location (which was right behind him). If your pet is an unfamiliar area, the app will also provide directions from your location to where the Tagg says your pet is, which is a nice touch and could come in handy in a pinch. As an extra-added bonus, the app does have the ability to show you nearby locations that pet owners would need like veterinarians, pet stores, pet parks, pet grooming, and pet hotels.
VerdictThe master kit of the Tagg system is listed for $99.99 on the company’s website or Amazon. The system does come with one free month of service. An additional Tagg tracker and collar assembly can be purchased for $89.99. The tracker comes in gray, blue, white, or pink. As far as monthly fees go, it’s a mixed bag. Tagg charges $7.95 per month for the first pet and a very nice $0.95 per month for each additional pet. So, if you are a multiple-pet household, it really is cost effective. But in my case, the monthly charge is definitely something I’ll easily pay for the extra-added comfort of having a better chance of catching my dog if he ever tries to escape again.
Tagg—The Pet Tracker™