Project Description

Keeping Tabs on Spot
Anyone who has owned a pet has probably encountered the immediate worry and frustration that occurs when that precious member of the family escapes from your home or yard and goes missing. The devastation it can place on a family—especially those with young children—can be difficult because we get so attached to our animals that we just can’t imagine anything happening to them.

Back in the day, dog tags were the form of identification pets had so owners could be contacted when our pets went missing. Today, technology has upgraded our opportunity to locate our furry little companions anyplace, anytime. Microchips can be implanted into man’s best friend, although not GPS, they emit an RF (radio frequency) signal. But, if implanting a device into your pet as if it was a character in a sci-fi movie doesn’t appeal to you, then there is the simpler route of going with a wearable device.

Tagg-The Pet Tracker and Activity Monitor is a GPS (global positioning system) device offering many of the same features as others on the market today. But what makes this tracker very unique is that it is simple to use and provides terrific detail when updating information which gives an owner peace of mind when locating the family pet.

For purposes of full disclosure, I have a mixed breed named Dottie, who happens to be 16 years of age. She is not exactly spry for her old age, but the tendency to wander does exist and keeping track of her whereabouts and activity level is just as important as for her as for much younger dogs.

The technology behind the device includes advanced GPS (global positioning system) and cellular capabilities from Verizon, a Li-lon battery, and LED (light-emitting diode) lighting to indicate the device is working.

The Tagg system comes complete with tracker, docking station, collar clip and straps, and a power kit. It is able to work on most standard collars; however, for purposes of being able to optimize signal strength, it is not to be used with metal or spiked collars, including ones with studs, jewels, or other “adornments.” Since it attaches comfortably to the pet’s collar, it is not a nuisance to the pet where it will try to nip at it or attempt to remove it. Additionally, it’s about the size of a dog tag, so it is not cumbersome for the pet to wear.

Before attaching the Tagg system to your pet, the device must be charged using the docking station. The docking station can only be powered up using an electrical outlet and not a computer’s USB (universal serial bus) port. Charging time takes about two hours and the status indicator will turn solid blue notifying you that it’s ready for use. Notification of the device being fully charged can also be sent to your smartphone or other mobile device.

A nice feature of the battery is its ability to remain charged for long periods of time. Depending on usage levels, the battery can last up to 30 days without needing to be recharged.  Since testing the device, I found myself accessing the system and triggering the battery frequently, yet despite my multiple uses, I didn’t need to do a recharge for three weeks.

Attachment to the collar is very simple. The clip is placed atop the collar, followed by running the collar through the clip grooves and clasping it. The tracker connects to the top of the clip and can be secured to the collar with a Tagg Guard that slides over the device and zips closed. The Tagg Guard is a nice little feature to keep the device in place should something happen and it comes loose.

To begin the activation process, you must go to tagg.com and follow the directions for registration. In order to be able to follow your pet, a PC (personal computer)/Mac or Smartphone is required. The system is compatible with both iPhone and Android smartphones. The registration process was simple and did not take long to fill out.

Once ready, it was time to start tracking my dog. I used my iPod to follow her course as I took her around for a walk. I made sure to get outside of the “Home Tagg Zone” which is a radius of about 75 yards around your home and indicates whether she is within our outside of the range. Constant updates to my mobile device come from the tracker to indicate if she is outside of, inside of, or approaching the home zone.

While I found this to be a handy and useful tool, the number of updates was a little much for my tastes. In addition to letting you know of the system being on or off, battery power, and location, reminders of where the dog was at, especially while in the zone, were plentiful and delivered every few minutes. Perhaps if the dog is not outside of the zone, a notification would not be a necessity. However, when the notifications did come, they did manage to make them somewhat entertaining by closing each out with a “love Dottie,” or “Are you paging me because you want to play? I’m ready” or “I’m where I’m supposed to be. If you want to bring a treat with you I won’t mind at all.”

The GPS tracking system did a nice job in following the path Dottie was taking as we made our way around our block. I made sure to leave the home zone area to test how the tracking system performed in tracing our whereabouts, and it was spot on. Even the updates, plentiful as they may have been, did indicate Dottie’s distance to nearby addresses which made locating her exact position very useful. The image on my iPhone was an aerial map of my community and indicated the home zone with a circle around my address, with a movable dot which traced our position as we made our way around the area.

One of the issues I encountered with the device was when I turned my iPod on to take my dog out, the last time and position was displayed on the screen. Thus, I had to refresh the tracking command on my mobile device prior to each use. I had not shut the device off, even when the dog was in the house, as I thought it would continuously update the time and position as soon as I turned on my mobile device, but this was not the case.

The activity tracker feature which identifies the amount of rest and exercise my dog was getting during the course of the day was very useful as it displayed the levels using a graph to indicate high, low, and moderate activity. It even broke it down into what percentages those levels were for the day as well as showing trends in her activity over several days. Sensors detect the activity level several times per minute and enter data into the system which allowed me to compare how active my pet is on a daily basis. Tagg points can be earned based on the intensity level of the activity. Points are recorded during a 24-hour period, however, levels are recorded in one-hour increments, and an activity history display reveals the levels of intensity performed throughout the day. It is a great service which can be very helpful when keeping an eye on the pet’s health.

While I do love my pet, I am not one to go on social media and discuss them or post pictures. Nonetheless, there are a number of people who do, and for them  the “Community” tab is a nice feature. It connects the user to the Tagg Pet Tracker & Activity Monitor Facebook page where people can share comments and photos.

The Tagg Tracker is priced at $99, and the first two months of service are free. Following that period, the monthly rate is $9.95. Compared with other devices on the market, the Tagg Tracker price is on the lower end, with many competitors starting at $130, while other go as high as much as $800. As for the subscription price, that, too, is one of the better deals around, although some do offer free service. Available for both iPhone and Android smartphones, the app can be downloaded for free in the iTunes and Google Play app stores.

“Tag, you’re it” is a common thing to hear children say when playing outside; however, the same term could be used to describe this worthy pet-tracking device.

Unique Features:

  • Li-lon battery lasts up to 30 days

The Good:

  • Specific updates on pet’s position
  • Activity level graphs and percentages

The Bad:

  • Manually refresh update date/time upon each use.
  • Unnecessary updates when pet is in the zone

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