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It’s every pet owner’s worst nightmare: your dog jumps the fence or slips off the leash, disengages and runs away before anyone else notices. This is why there are so many GPS collar options on the market. But nearly all of them come with a hefty price tag and limited battery life, two issues that have led pet owners to an extremely popular new option for dogs: Apple AirTags.
Owners rave about the security, low price, and convenience of a GPS device that doesn’t need regular charging. But Apple doesn’t recommend AirTags for pets, and there’s good reason for that.
So is an AirTag for your dog a good idea? Our product testers research and get answers.
Do you need a GPS device for your dog?
Many pet owners believe they are well-equipped to deal with a lost puppy because their dog is microchipped. But that’s not entirely true, as experienced veterinarian Dr. Rebecca Greenstein stressed.
A microchip is a good start and a valuable security tool. After all, it’s the only device that can help if your dog ran away without an ID, collar or tag. But it’s important to remember that it only works under very specific conditions: “You rely on strangers to find your dog and take him to a clinic to be scanned.” You trust that your dog will be found by other people. It doesn’t give him strength to find his own dog,” says Dr. Greenstein.
There is also no universal system for scanning microchips, and on rare occasions scanners may not recognize a chip.
A worrying prospect for many. For this reason, GPS devices for dogs and even cats have proliferated in recent years to give pet owners an extra level of control.
GPS devices use a variety of methods to locate your dog: some rely on cellular (ideal for urban areas but not always rural), radio frequency (excellent accuracy but usually only a few miles away), Bluetooth, Google Maps, or a combination several methods of it. The sea of options can be difficult to navigate and the most powerful devices tend to be expensive, especially since some of the big brands include monthly subscriptions.
The shock and confusion of stickers make Apple’s more affordable and simple AirTags an attractive alternative for your dog, but there are a few important things to know before you buy.
How do Apple AirTags for dogs work?
AirTags are small tiles that can be attached to backpacks, slipped into wallets, or attached to keychains so those items can be instantly found in Apple’s Find My app. Simply save the AirTag to the app, identify it as yours and watch Apple Maps show you its exact location within a few meters. You can even “ping” the AirTag, which causes its built-in speakers to play a tone to help you locate it.
However, the feature that pet owners are really interested in is Lost Mode. When you select Mark as Lost in the Find My app, you’ll receive a notification whenever your AirTag comes within Bluetooth range of an iPhone with cellular service, any iPhone anywhere in the world. You’ll get the address where your AirTag was recognized and you can even change your settings so the phone that came in contact with your AirTag gets a message with your instructions.
Our favorite Italian Greyhounds Figgy and Leo (and their amazing mother Mary Vargas) show what it can look like:
For les proprietaires d’animaux, c’est comme un rêve devenu réalité: non seulement vous pouvez vous rendre vous-même à votre chien, mais vous pouvez meme contacter stafflement la personne que a trouvé votre chiot pour lui demander de le garder là pour She.
The AirTag does not need to be charged daily or weekly; The battery typically lasts about a year and is user replaceable. All you have to do is register the AirTag as your own and attach it to your dog’s collar.
And the price? An AirTag costs $29, making it the cheapest GPS tracking device of its kind.
Why doesn’t Apple sell the AirTag for dogs?
AirTags, like everything in life, aren’t perfect, and there are some major drawbacks to consider if you’re considering using them on your pets.
The first thing you need to know is that AirTags depend on people having serviced phones. So if you live in an unpopulated area or an area with patchy network coverage and turn on lost mode, nobody with cell service may not be able to find your pup, meaning you won’t receive notifications or updates. about your location.
It still has Bluetooth capabilities, so you can see where the AirTag is within normal Bluetooth range (typically around 100 feet). You can even make it make sounds and get directions on how to get there. But unless you lose your dog in your own home on a regular basis, this feature isn’t very useful. (Mary says it came in handy when Figgy and Leo removed and hid their AirTags though, smart dogs!)
That’s the next problem: attaching an AirTag to your dog’s collar. Since most key fob cases and loops are designed for objects rather than pets, they will not withstand a dog’s attempts to detach them. Figgy and Leo, for example, could remove any holster that hung around their necks like a clamp.
Test pup Oscar, a tiny dachshund, tried a bunch of keys, and while he couldn’t take it off, he dragged and threw it on the ground quite often (no tracker required, you could hear it coming). a mile away).
The best way to put an AirTag on your dog is by using a sleeve with attachment points at the top and bottom of the tag; In short, a sleeve that requires your pup to remove the collar to remove the tag. For added security, Mary recommends turning the tile inward so it lays flat against your dog’s coat, rather than facing outward.
Should you get an AirTag for your dog?
Apple AirTag has exceptional features that rival even the best dog GPS trackers on the market, and at a much lower price. But it also has critical weaknesses that may make it unsuitable for some pet owners.
What we like:
- “Lost Mode” that sends you a notification when a repaired iPhone user is within range of your dog
- The ability to show your contact information and address to anyone with an NFC-enabled smartphone who touches your AirTag
- Bluetooth for proximity tracking up to about 100 feet away (we haven’t lost our dogs indoors yet, but we can’t say the same for our cats…)
- A user-replaceable CR2032 coin-cell battery powers an AirTag for a year and notifies you when it’s time to replace it
- Built-in speaker that allows you to ‘ping’ your AirTag
- Small and light tile (1.26 inch diameter and 11 grams) waterproof
- Personalization options so you know which brand fits which dog
- Low price of $29 for a single AirTag; no monthly subscription required
What we don’t like:
- Lost Mode relies on passers-by, meaning it can’t help you track your dog in unpopulated areas
- If your area has poor network coverage, you are unlikely to be able to locate a lost puppy
- Not all AirTag accessories are collar compatible, so buyers should beware
- There’s no option for a notification when your dog leaves the house, a feature offered by several major GPS devices.
- AirTags don’t track your dog’s health like the big brands
Conclusion: It depends on where you live, what kind of dog you have and how much you want to pay.
For those who live in remote areas or near extensive wilderness areas, the Apple AirTag is not a good dog option; You don’t want to rely on bystanders to find your missing friend. You can try a GPS satellite tracker like the SportDog TEK series dog collar. It’s not as fancy as an AirTag, but it doesn’t rely on a dense population with cell phones within reach either.
The same goes for pet owners who live with true escape artists, dogs you just met who will take the passion out of their lives, or those looking forward to an option with all the bells and whistles like the Whistle GPS Tracker (no pun intended). To see which options might work for you, check out our full dog GPS device review.
For city dwellers and those unwilling or interested in paying a higher price, AirTag can be a solid security measure. As Mary says, it’s a good middle ground between a microchip alone and a traditional GPS device: it offers a level of security at an unbeatable price.
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