"Lassie, come home!" If you're a dog owner, nothing makes you more anxious than when your faithful companion disappears into the woods after a squirrel. The Tagg Pet Tracker looks to alleviate your concerns by relaying your dog's location via GPS to your smartphone or notebook.
The device also shows how active your dog is during the day, so you can make sure he's getting enough exercise. So, is it worth $99, plus a $7.95 monthly fee, or is Tagg barking up the wrong tree?
The Tagg Pet Tracker comes in two pieces: the tracker, which attaches to your dog's collar, and the base station, which is used to recharge the Tracker.
The tracker, which has a built-in GPS chip, comes in gray or white, measures 3.2 x 1.5 x 0.8 inches and weighs 1.2 ounces. The center is made of a hard plastic, with two rubber tabs extending on either side. The tracker attached securely to our dog's collar via a little clip; pressing on two tabs on either side of the tracker removes it from the collar. The tracker is water-resistant, so it should be fine if your dog likes chasing balls in the surf.
While the tracker isn't all that large, it did seem a little bulky on our dog, a 20-pound Parson Jack Russell Terrier named Henry. The company recommends using the device only on dogs weighing at least 10 pounds. It would be way too large for a Chihuahua.
The base station is a white square that plugs into a wall outlet via its USB port. The base station serves two purposes: It recharges the tracker, and it helps conserve battery life. Inside both the tracker and the base station is a cellular connection that covers almost all of the continental United States. When the Tracker is within 150 to 200 feet of the base station, the tracker will feed location data to the station, which will then upload it to the cloud via its cellular connection. Outside that range, the tracker will use its own cellular connection, which uses more power.
A bundle that includes both the Tagg Tracker and base station costs $89. The package comes with three free months of service, and then it costs $7.95 per month. Each additional tracker costs $89 and includes three free months of service, after which it costs $0.95 per month. A single docking station can work with up to 10 trackers.
A special promo bundle -- which includes a tracker, base station and 12 months of service -- costs $179.
Setting up the Tagg Pet Tracker took about 10 minutes. First, we attached the tracker to Henry's collar, and then plugged in the base station. Then, we went to Tagg's website and set up an account, where we entered Henry's information, such as his breed, age and weight.
In the Map tab, we set the Tagg Zone (from 75 to 1,000 square feet), which is an area where Henry could roam. When he wandered out of that zone, we received an alert via email or smartphone, because we had the iOS app installed (also available on Android).
The Tagg Tracker worked well on our testing. It accurately located Henry on a map, and dutifully tracked him as he moved around town. We received alerts whenever he ranged outside the Tagg Zone, when the tracker was removed from his collar and when the battery was running low. Best of all, Henry didn't seem to mind wearing the tracker.
The Activity Tracker uses the tracker's GPS to see how active your dog is during the day. According to Tagg, pets should get between 30 and 60 minutes of exercise per day. The Activity Tracker shows how long your dog is resting, lightly active, moderately active and highly active over the course of the day, and awards points for each category. Owners can also set a points goal for each day.
The Activity Tracker breaks down the data into three charts: a daily snapshot, arranged in a circle; a timeline showing when during the day your dog was active, and a bar chart showing for how many hours your dog was active. All three charts are very easy to read, and we like that you can also view activity on a 30- and 90-day timeline.
The Tagg iOS app provides much of the same functionality as the website. The app has three large buttons at the top (Locate, Start Tracking and Directions) that will help you find your dog if he wanders off. The middle of the screen shows the battery life remaining on the tracker, your dog's location and his profile. At the bottom are tabs for the Map, Activity Tracker, Community (a link to Tagg's Facebook page) and Settings.
Tagg says the tracker's battery can last up to 30 days; we got a little over a week out of it before it needed a recharge. We like, though, that both the app and the site prominently display how much battery life remains.
For pet owners with large yards, or for those who like to let their dogs roam in the woods, the Tagg Pet Tracker could be a very helpful tool in case Fido wanders out of earshot. The addition of activity tracking adds a nice fitness element, too. While its price of $99, plus $7.95 per month, can add up over time, can you really put a price on your pet's well-being?
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