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GPS Pet Tracking System: Pros and Cons

GPS for pets pros and cons

Story at-a-glance -

  • GPS pet tracking systems make sense for some dog owners.
  • GPS devices vary widely in both complexity and cost.
  • No remote tracking system can take the place of a secure fenced yard and a leash.
  • Currently available GPS pet tracking devices aren't practical for most cats.

By Dr. Becker

GPS pet tracking devices like Tagg-The Pet Tracker™ by Snaptracs, Inc. are a great idea in certain specific situations. They can help you locate your pet if he wanders off or gets separated from you.

Ted Kerasote, author of Merle's Door and other wonderful books, keeps track of his free-roaming dog Pukka with a GPS device.

Other circumstances in which a dog-tracking GPS device could be useful include:

  • If you spend time hiking, hunting or enjoying other outdoor activities with your dog off-leash.
  • If you live on a farm, ranch or other sizable piece of land and your dog has the run of the property.
  • If your dog is a runner or escape artist. Ideally you're working to curb these tendencies with positive reinforcement behavior modification, but a GPS device can help in the interim or if you aren't able to entirely extinguish the undesired behavior.

GPS Systems for Dogs

These devices can be attached to a dog's collar or harness. GPS (global positioning system) receivers pick up signals from orbiting satellites to pinpoint locations. Some pet tracking GPS systems offer email and text message notification and online mapping.

There are a number of GPS pet tracking devices on the market, including:

  • Loc8tor Pet - Ultimate Wireless Pet Locator
  • Garmin Astro 220 Dog Tracking GPS Bundle with DC40 Wireless Transmitter Collar
  • RoamEO Pet Monitor System
  • LoveMyPetsGPS
  • SpotLight GPS Pet Locator

The Tagg system mentioned above is $199.99 for one collar tag, a docking station and a year of service through a cellular provider. The other brands I listed range from about $100 all the way up to $600.

Cost and what you need the device to do will dictate which tracking system you select.

Other things to consider:

  • Some of the devices are too large for dogs under 20 pounds.
  • Some tracking services charge a monthly fee.
  • Batteries need to be recharged or replaced frequently.
  • Some of the devices are water resistant, but not necessarily water proof.
  • Any object attached to your dog's collar or harness can fall off or be lost if your pet manages to get it snagged on a tree or a fence.
  • No GPS pet tracking device should be considered the only thing you need to keep track of your dog. Most of us don't live where it's entirely safe to let our pets roam free, so your best bets are always a securely fenced yard, a leash, and an up-to-date ID tag on your pet's collar.

GPS Tracking for Cats

According to my research, the vast majority of devices on the market are just too heavy for the average pet cat.

In any event, I don't recommend allowing your kitty to roam free outdoors.

Your pet will be a lot safer and healthier living indoors. Kitties allowed outdoors are frequently attacked by dogs and other cats. They are hit by cars. They are poisoned. They suffer from extremes in the weather. And they are at much higher risk of acquiring a wide variety of serious feline diseases.

Instead of allowing your cat outdoors on his own, consider building a safe enclosure for him that you can put out on your porch or in your yard in nice weather.

And make sure your kitty wears a current ID tag at all times, too.