Pet Technology: The Tagg Tracking System

A recent innovation in pet-tracking technology, the Tagg System alerts you when your dog goes outside an area you specify. It also lets you track your dog’s activity to help you keep them fit.

In recent years, Global Positioning Systems (GPS) have emerged from an obscure role as special and exotic technology used primarily by the military and extreme sports enthusiasts. These days, most cars and cell-phones have GPS technology, allowing an automated system to tell you where you are on the map and how to get to where you want to go. Some of them will even tell you what lane to drive in to avoid missing your road.

This same technology is now being used to allow pet parents to keep track of their dogs.

A GPS SYSTEM FOR DOGS AND PET PARENTS

The Tagg™ tracking system uses a small rechargeable device that clips to your dog’s collar. Once you have set up the area where the dog is allowed to roam, the device is supposed to send a message to your smart phone or to your email account on your computer whenever the dog crosses the imaginary boundary.

Of course, you never mean for your dog to get lost, but sometimes a pooch can slip his collar or a leash breaks. Or, a guest accidentally lets your dog outside during a party. For these kinds of situations, a GPS tracker is an extra bit of insurance that you’ll be able to find your pet again. For working dogs on a large range, such a device could really earn its keep, keeping tabs on the animals’ locations.

HOW DOES IT SEND THE LOCATION TO YOU?

The service uses email and electronic messaging to send alerts to the email address on record. It seems to work especially well with the iPhone and it is sold at some American “Apple” shops. However, it is not specific to Apple, and it is supposed to work with any smart-phone or computer with access to the Internet. The signals are reported to be relayed over the Verizon network.

It doesn’t track in real-time, as some of the automobile mapping systems do, so you can’t see the animal’s movement on the screen of your phone. This is limitation is probably intended to preserve battery-life. The tracker does, however, update quickly enough that many people have sent Tagg happy testimonials telling about how they found their dog in fifteen minutes with the Tagg™ tracker’s assistance. Previous hunts had taken hours.

SERVICE AVAILABILITY IS LIMITED (FOR NOW)

Unfortunately, this service is only available in the United States at this time, probably because of the contract with Verizon.

IT DOUBLES AS A PEDOMETER FOR YOUR PET

The genius of the Tagg™ system is that it has a secondary “everyday” use: It tracks and tells you about your dog’s activity for the day. It also compares it to what your dog’s activity ought to be. If your pooch is getting a bit of a pudge, this might be just the thing to figure out where the problem is.  Is Fido really getting in a good run behind the house? Are his walks as long as you think they are? Does he just lounge in front of the telly at doggie-daycare every morning? This could be really handy to track Fido’s fitness.

SIZE DOES MATTER FOR A COLLAR DEVICE

Judging by the dimensions and pictures, the Tagg™ system was developed with hounds, pointers, and larger dogs in mind. Tagg’s own website says that the device is meant for dogs and cats who weigh more than ten pounds (4.5kg). Yorkies, MinPins, and Chihuahuas are out of luck. Standard poodles, Labrador retrievers, Labradoodles and wolfhounds are the target audience. None of them would be concerned about the small amount of added weight or bulk on the collar.

THE DEVICE IS WATER RESISTANT NOT WATERPROOF

The collar-mounted transmitter should be fine in the rain, but if your dog goes swimming a few times, it will probably stop working. Therefore, this might not be the right device for your Newfoundland dog.

THE TAGG™ TRACKER IS A GREAT IDEA

These GPS tracker devices are a great idea, especially for the fast sight-hounds and retriever breeds, and particularly if children or guests are likely to accidentally let your pet out when he should be in the house.  The trackers would also be perfect for use at off-leash parks.

It would be worth keeping an eye on this relatively new development in pet technology. If it comes to Australia, would it be something you’d use? Why or why not? Tell us in the comments below.

In the interests of full disclosure, please be aware that this blog post is based on the data available from Tagg’s website and the various review pages listed below, and it does not reflect personal experience with the product, because the service in question is not yet available here.