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GPS Dog Tracking System Considerations

written by: Daniel P. McGoldrick•edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 11/23/2009

Are you curious about a GPS dog tracking system and what all it entails? In this introductory article, you will learn some important factors to consider before you buy one and then we will move on in subsequent articles to highlight and review the prominent models available on the market.

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    Is a GPS Dog Tracking System Right For You and your Pet?

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    Now the following might sound silly, but it is worth your consideration. You take your dog on the usual strolls day after day and he takes great pleasure in the process of sniffing and nudging every wonderful smell that she comes upon, such as that irresistible mailbox post in front of the Wilson’s house. It is well know that this activity is highly enjoyable to canines and many trainers encourage a walk as a reward for good behavior and taking it away (to some degree) when Fido’s behavior is not up to snuff.

    What I am getting to is all those other tantalizing smells - off the beaten path, down those mysterious, forbidden driveways and yards that the blasted collar and leash preclude her from investigating. If and when the dog gets loose and is totally AWOL, it is a safe bet that she is going to head off into unchartered territory toward the nastiest, smelliest stuff out there. This means that your dog will likely be in a neighbor’s yard or some fenced off territory with no perceivable human access other than climbing a perilous fence (I’m thinking of the junkyard scene in the movie Stand By Me when the dog Jaws is suddenly chasing a terrified boy in the attempt to viciously bite his family jewels.)

    If it’s a neighbor yard, near or far, that your GPS-equipped dog is roaming through, you must ask yourself if you’ll be willing to cross into private property or alert that household about the extraction mission you’re about to attempt. For the folks who would be unwilling to do that, having a GPS collar on your dog would not be worth the investment.

    Furthermore, if that little bugger is brazen enough to disregard all the food and care you have given them and take to the open road; well then, perhaps that mongrel is on his own in making it back home. Some dogs just have to taste freedom every now and again, whether it is predatory instincts, some unknown trigger that spooked him, or just a simple case of hormones. In addition, we should consider that dogs wandered safely far and near unharmed and unshackled for centuries before the trend of taking their freedom away became almost universal.

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    A Canine Ulysses Returns from Many Adventures

    Selway River, Idaho 040 

    The wily dog Taffy I adopted (pictured here) looks very sweet indeed. However, she will break out given the chance and take her chances with the coyotes, wolves, porcupines, and mountain lions out here in Montana as well as a nearby highway. She will return at 8:00 A.M. the next morning with an even sweeter disposition smeared in scat and muck and a look that seems to say “What’s wrong with you bub, and why is my dish not filled with Prime Cuts yet?" While she is missing and I am frazzled with worry, I think I need to invest in one of these GPS collars. When I have to remove porcupine quills and bathe her yet again, my thoughts are slightly different.

    Tracking your dog electronically is your call and many dogs are surprisingly clever enough to return home once they realize providing their own food and warmth is not all it’s cracked up to be. Usually the homecoming involves a new smell, joyful to the dog who smattered himself with it yet abhorrent to the master who can merely guess at its source. But on the other hand, if you’re curious about it, some GPS units designed for dogs offer the ability to trace exactly where the dog has been (I’ll highlight those models later in this article series, so read on).

    With those considerations dismissed, you still want the peace of mind that a dog packing a GPS box will bring you, should you ever need to lock on to its current position - which could be anywhere other than where she is supposed to be. Let us move on to the next four articles in this series, which will give some details on the models and choices that are available so you can make an informed decision.

    One more thing: if you have a feline you would like to monitor electronically, that is another ball of wax due to their small, dainty nature. Refer to the series beginning with Can You Track Your Cat Using GPS? for answers.

Your Best Options for Tracking a Dog With a GPS Device

This comprehensive series first outlines the factors you should consider before investing in a GPS dog tracking system. Then in subsequent articles, reviews of the four best models available on the market, complete with links on where to buy them, are presented so you can make an informed decision.
  1. GPS Dog Tracking System Considerations
  2. SpotLight is an Outstanding GPS for Dogs Product
  3. A GPS Dog Collar Made by PawTrack Sounds Good so Far
  4. GPS your Dog with Garmin?
  5. GPS Dog Collar Alternatives: The RoamEO Dog Tracker