Product Review: Tagg, the Pet Tracker

There are few things worse than that sinking feeling of looking around for your pet, and realizing he or she is gone. Not just hiding, but gone. Perhaps you’re like my neighbor, whose tricky latch on the side fence meant that whenever the gardener didn’t pull it shut all the way, the labs would push it open and go for a run.

Or you have one of those dogs who likes to dig, dig, dig, right under the fence and out onto the street.

Or you’re just unlucky, like a client of ours whose dog Tinker pulled his leash right out of his owner’s hand in our parking lot and disappeared for a month and a half before being found, slightly thinner but miraculously none the worse for wear, up in the hills, communing with nature.

They are all happy endings, though not without a great deal of stress and angst on the owner’s part. Not all stories end well, as we all know. Which is why I was so happy to get to be one of the first people to review the new Tagg the Pet Tracker, a GPS tracking device for dogs from SnapTracs, a division of Qualcomm. You may not know Qualcomm, but if you own a smartphone, you know their mobile technology.


First things first: The Tagg is a modern-looking, light device (1.15 ounces) about the size of a sportswatch. The device itself snaps onto your dog’s collar via a set of clips that are designed to remain on the collar- the box comes with four clips in total. By incorporating the antenna into the little wings on either side, they were able to get this device super teensy.

The Tagg charges on the small docking station pictured above. Once charged, battery life is as long as 30 days depending on usage patterns.

Users designate a geofence- a Tagg home zone, for those of us who don’t use words like geofence on a regular basis- on the Tagg website. When the device leaves this designated area, you are alerted by e-mail, text, or both within 10 minutes. After that, you are given updated locations every 3-4 minutes until the Tagg is back home.

This is not the first GPS device for dogs on the market, but it’s definitely a step up in terms of both looks and user interface.

1. It’s low-profile and attractive. I know utilitarians scoff at the fact that this bothers me, but the fact that so many of the GPS trackers on the market look like shock collars does bother me. They’re big, bulky, and ugly. The Tagg is cute, is flush on the neck, and very easy to get off and on.

2. The Tagg website is intuitive and easy to navigate. Setup is easy- it took me about 5 minutes, and I’m slow at that kind of thing. From the homepage, I can see where my home zone is on the site, check the battery level remaining, and track my dog if needed. There’s also a mobile app for Android devices.
taggmap

Here’s the main dashboard, showing our Tagg zone, the battery charge level, and the latest status update on the device’s location. (Yes, I pixellated the map. After yesterday’s post I figured it would be prudent.)

And of course we took it on a test run. I couldn’t bring myself to turn Brody loose on his own recognizance so we cheated- I went with him. Forgive me. He darts a lot when he gets excited.

We went to the carwash to see what would happen. Now, the website does indicate it can take up to 10 minutes to get the first notification when your pet leaves the designated area, but I got my first notification in 7 minutes via e-mail. It pegged us accurately to the address of the carwash, including not only the address but a map of the location.

 

Then I got notifications every three minutes as we made our way to Petco and the library. Since I had text messages enabled, I also received text messages with Brody’s location in addition to the e-mails with the maps. These continued until we were back at home, when the device texted me that Brody was back in his home zone so it was going back into power save mode, thank you very much. No work required on my part to get all of that information, though you can manually track your pet via text or on the website if you desire.

 

As much as I like the look of the device, it’s the interface that really sold me. I liked getting the maps in addition to just the text address, since if you’re like me, I always need to see an actual map in addition to having street addresses to get my bearings when I’m trying to find somewhere. Or someone. The combination of real-time text messages and e-mails increases the likelihood that no matter where you are or which device you’re sitting by, you’ll find out quickly if there’s been a jailbreak.

The Tagg will notify you when the battery is low, so you don’t have to try and guess when you need to take it off to recharge. In addition, there is a “trip” mode so that you can leave it on when you’re out on a stroll or at the vet without getting e-mails every three minutes telling you that you are within 30 yards of the vet clinic.

Brody’s wearing his now, and none the antsier for it. We even took it swimming, which makes me happy because if that dog is going to get away from me, it’s going to happen at Dog Beach, mark my words. He’s a maniac there.

The Tagg retails for $199.95 ($10 more for the pink or blue units), which includes the docking station, clips, and the first year of service. For now it’s only available online, but if you check out their Facebook page you can see where the Tour de Tagg is stopping by on their many visits to local dog parks, and you can see them live in action.

The very first person I called when this came out was Tinker’s owner, by the way. He got the blue one.

Filed: Blog, Lifestyle, Pet Gear, Reviews Tagged: , ,
  • Lisa W

    Wow, kind onf expensive, but worth it, I would think, should one’s pup decide to go exploring. Maybe I’ll talk with Santa…

  • Anonymous

    Do you know yet how much the annual service fee will be after the first year of service that is included in the price? Love the features you’ve highlighted and the fact that it’s small and unobtrusive. The price is a little high, but it would be well worth it for someone who has a dog with a tendency to bolt. I am more concerned about this when Clyde is boarding than when he is with me, and I love the fact that I would know within 10 minutes if he got loose while boarding.

    • http://www.pawcurious.com Dr. V

      I believe it’s $5 a month.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1209375425 Susan Shields Montgomery

    yep, saw them at BlogPaws, very nifty device.

  • lin

    Looks a little bulky for cats, which is what I would be most interested in.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Karen-Hume/527095446 Karen Hume

    This is definitely something i’ve been keeping my eye on! We’ll see what my Christmas bonus is at work this year and maybe get Toby his own Tagg! I especially like the fact that it tells you when he’s out of the home zone, because sometimes i get paranoid if it seems like the dogs have been out in the fenced in backyard for a long time. But if open the door to just make sure they’re still there, they immediately want to come in, even though they were having a good time just screwing around outside! Glad to see it’s a good product! :D Thanks Dr. V!

    • http://twitter.com/mjsteelega Michael J. Steele

      Product is not ready. Spent several hours with them trying to get ours to work. Has great potential and works (fairly) will as a passive tracking system; meaning go locate when you click the find button. But had ZERO success with any proactive alerts. My dog would be miles from my house within 15 minutes. Needs to alert within 2-3 minutes. There is no reason why it couldn’t do this, with the exception of degrade battery life.

      • Ann

        I have a unit received just 2 days ago and I am getting alerts quickly. I had no difficulty with the activation. I have both text and email alerts enabled. The text alerts arrive on my HTC Thunderbolt (Verizon) nearly instantly. The email take longer – but that is because of the 5 minute poll. I am fairly sure that the TAGG uses the Verizon network.

        I am having problems with the Android App vs using the Internet browser. Using my phone’s browser or my laptop browser, I am able to track. But the Android App TAGG – it only updates if I’ve looked at my mapp via the main TAGG site.

  • LindsayP

    Did you ever find out what the little bone-shaped piece was for?

  • Sheryl R

    Would it work in the middle of nowhere? How would it tell you where the dog is? I only ask because several dogs near here have bolted after a car accident on a highway through the mountains and they have been lost for days. One has never been found. Would it give you GPS co-ordinates to track them?

    • Sheryl R

      Ahhhhh. It doesn’t matter because it’s not available in Canada. (Yet!)

    • Ann

      In the U.S., it will/should work wherever there is cell service. THAT was a selling point to me. Cell reception recoups faster than satellite acquisition – in my experience.

      • Ann

        I did a walking test…as in 3/4 mile across the state land that borders my own 8 acres. Although I get nearly immediate “out of Home zone” texts, the Locate then puts my dog 200 miles away.

        I then asked my phone navigation system to locate me. It got closer, putting my 5 miles from where I was – still not really helpful.

        Here is the problem…”cell tower GPS”/vehicle GPS – they expect you to be at a street address. They cannot yet deliver lat/lon info like a direct to satellite GPS.

        I was 1/4 mile from the nearest home. Previously, I had 1 “locate” that said 261 yards from my home address.

        Ultimately, I think this device probably works ok in suburban areas – not sure about big cities with tall buildings…

  • TC

    Is there a way to activate it remotely after it is in trip mode? I’m thinking if your pet gets away when you are traveling, could you then activate it to track your pet?

    • http://www.pawcurious.com Dr. V

      That’s a good question. I’ll have to ask them.

    • Robert

      Yes. I talked to a rep from Tagg about this as I have been using a different pet gps product for the past year and am considering switching.

    • Ann

      First of all “trip mode” only stays in trip mode for 30-45 minutes, thus removing the possibility of user error/forgetfulness in re-activating.

      For a real trip, as in a vacation, you don’t use trip mode. There are travel instructions on the TAGG site. Maybe this is new, but I just purchased so all fresh in my mind. THE FAQ page on the site has a LOT of info and I have received very prompt replies to any questions as well.

      I’m still testing, but so far, all is performing as stated. I live in Northwest Montana in a rural area and my dog and I are just recovering from a 52 hour adventure/horror. I hope this device can be a backup if all other systems: training/my vigilance fail.

  • Cathey

    This is an awesome product that will save a LOT of anxiety for lots of folks. Thanks for sharing.

  • Kim

    Since folks are asking questions and stuff, what about small pooches? Is there a harness clip option of some sort? Would it work with a harness on a, say, 8 pound dog?

    • http://twitter.com/mjsteelega Michael J. Steele

      We tried it on a 12 lb Siberian Husky puppy. I think that is borderline. They weight is not a problem. It’s the size, and how the clip attaches to the collar. I personally think the design is very good. Just don’t think it is a fit for dogs under 15 lbs.

  • Apcalnan

    This company states that the tracker can also be used for cats. They are wrong. I had the tracker on my cat for one week, then it just fell off. My cat arrived home with the collar and clip attachment perfectly intact, with absolutely NO damage to either. I can see where the tracker is (until the power runs out) on the online map – between 16 and 35 yards from a given address on my street. That area covers a few backyards, also known as private property. I called the company twice and they keep saying they need to “elevate” my issue. I have made signs to pass out to my neighbors to see if they can find my tracker. The bottom line is, this device obviously does not stay on, and since I am getting the run-around from the company, I do not recommend it.

    • Dave Says

      I don’t know how well this one works but for my four cats I use the Loc8tor. They also sell a GPS unit which seems like this, but mine is the RF kind that just tracks the cats within a few hundred feet. That’s fine for my cats who don’t leave the backyard and works in the neighborhood if one gets out. No fancy GPS reports but cats don’t travel that far as a rule.

  • Foghorn O’Kalashnikov

    Entirely off topic but this is the second time in a week I’ve seen reference to a dog called Tinker. Is that not a bit … uh … of dubious taste in the States?

    • http://www.pawcurious.com Dr. V

      No- I must be missing something.

    • Marc Mcdaniel

      Yeah, I don’t get it either.

  • Dykers

    We have a small cat that is outdoors at least 50% of the time. This device rocks! It hasn’t fallen off our cat once and she seems to like wearing it. We love being able to see where our cat is at antime and had no idea how far she was wondering and how many roads she was crossing until now. What a product! Incredible. Highly recommend it.

    • Ellen Bormet

      how did you keep the large device to keep from falling to the under chin area? It seems to be too heavy and too big for my cat? He chews the ends

  • Dykers

    We have a small cat that is outdoors at least 50% of the time. This device rocks! It hasn’t fallen off our cat once and she seems to like wearing it. We love being able to see where our cat is at antime and had no idea how far she was wondering and how many roads she was crossing until now. What a product! Incredible. Highly recommend it.

  • http://twitter.com/ShibaMalukoKoji Shiba_Maluko_Koji

    Just want to post an update based on our recent experience so anyone that is considering the product is made aware of the situation and take this into consideration when deciding whether to purchase this product.

    I went out with my dog on an errand this Monday morning and forgot to set the tracker into “Trip” mode (this basically lets the tracker know you are going out of your home zone, so it will not alert you and thus save battery.). The tracker usually will alert you within 3-10 minutes of you going out of the home zone, but I got no alert after 15 minutes out of the house. I then manually started the locate and track command on my Android phone and it just kept telling me Koji is near the home docking station and a locate/track is not necessary.

    The tracker was definitely not working as it should. I called Tagg customer support and was told that there may be a syncing issue between the tracker and the docking station. After a painful trouble-shooting session that involves unpluging/plugging the docking station, turning /on the tracker, changing the home zone etc, the tracker still would not work. I was told the case will be escalated and someone will follow up with me within 48 hours. I turned off the tracker and the docking station yesterday for a couple hours and the turn them back on and the tracker is working again.

    The problem I have right now is I want to know what makes the tracker not working in the first place. If the product will randomly stop functioning, then I really can’t trust the product to provide me the safety net in case my dog gets lost. I have called Tagg support again and was told they are still trying to figure it out what happened and I will keep everyone here updated on this too.

    • http://twitter.com/mjsteelega Michael J. Steele

      Experienced the exact same thing. Left for more than 15 mins, 1+mile from the house, never got an alert. They PROACTIVELY tried to find the tag, said UNABLE TO LOCATE, then said it was at home. Looks like potential, but it simply doesn’t work.

  • Lisa

    Glad I saw the more recent posts as I planned on purchasing this for our 15(!) year old lab who keeps going missing. A few weeks ago we found her almost 2 miles from our house. We keep an eye on her when we let her out but when we’re gone, we can’t count on the kids to do the same. I’m sure they’ll develop a more reliable product in time, but right now we need something that works – now – and the alert feature when they first leave the area is critical to us. Thanks for the review and updates.

  • http://twitter.com/H_Naumann Harald Naumann

    Please find a a concept for GSM/GPS pet tracker by using Flex PCB, GSM/GPS module and SIM on Chip – Telit GE65, Fastrax IT520 here http://ow.ly/7G9s5
    Such a pet tracker will work worldwide.
    Regards
    Harald Naumann

  • Ann

    I left several responses to some older questions…I ordered my system at 4 something p.m. on 12/28 after my dog Bear had been missing for 52 hours. Thankfully, he was found unhurt just under 2 miles from my home.

    I had looked at the TAGG some months ago, but delayed purchasing as Bear is not out unattended…but 12/26 at 5:20 a.m., I opened the door for him before putting on boots and jacket. There was some critter…

    Bottom line, ordered the TAGG and paid for expedited shipping. I had it within 24 hours and it was activated and charged in 4 more. So far, it is performing as described but I will be doing some more testing. I live in rural, Northwest, MT so street address is not so important as lat/long and footprint directions…BUT, I’ll take as much info as I can get should something like this happen again.

    This unit depends on cell coverage and thankfully, there is good 3g coverage in my area. My smartphone is on the Verizon network and I think that is what TAGG uses. I’m receiving “out of zone” text alerts within 1-3 minutes on my test walks out of my zone. Email takes longer but that is a limitation of my phone settings. The Android App is not working realtime, but via my computer or phone internet browser, I can get immediate updates.

    I do think this is in the beginning stages, but I am happy to be an early adopter and the more of us there are, the better this device will get.

    They have dropped the price as well – I think. I paid 119.90 and that was paying an extra $10 for expedited shipping and handling. That price only includes 30 days of service and each month after the first 30 days is $7.95/month. I think it is very reasonable. There are various packages and I believe you get a break on the service fee if you order a year’s service.

  • Nico

    Our Tagg tracker fell off 4 times in 1 week, so I returned it.

    Pros: It does a great job of finding your dog! I recovered our dog 3 miles from home using the Tagg Android App. Great customer service–the company was responsive to our concerns, refunded the Tagg, and took a detailed survey of the problem.

    Cons: 1) It almost fell off every day 2) slow notification that your dog is missing (I’d been looking for 30 minutes before being notified) 3) poor battery life (I had to recharge the Tagg every day).

    Summary: Huge potential, but not ready yet. It the Tagg that stayed on the collar it would be invaluable for finding our escape artist rescue dog. If they fix this detachment problem, I’ll buy another one.

    Problem details and work-around: the Tagg has two spring-loaded clips that attach to base on the collar. If the dog runs through brush, the clips get pressed, and the device pops off. One possible solution would be to use rubber bands. You can’t use Duct tape because you need to take off the Tagg to charge it.

    Caveats: The slow notification may have been a synching problem (mentioned in other posts). The battery life may improve after a few charges. I didn’t keep it long enough to find out.

    • Service Dale Bowman

      I bought the tagg 2 months ago, The battery goes dead everyday and my dog knocks it off its collar and then the battery is dead so I spend half the day trying to find the device. I sent tagg an email asking what to do and they said call in and they would help me. After about 30 mins. on hold I hung up. The device fell off and now my dog chewed it up, waitting on advice from tagg. I think I am out two hundred bucks.

      • Jeremy

        early versions of the TAgg system are known to fall off until clip is improved. I simply zip tied my TAgg beacon wings to the collar itself making a drill hole through beacon wings which did not affect ability to send or receive cell signal. It falls off now but just dangles from zip tie till I put it back on…never lose it! Now I use a rivit from a name tag I never used and it’s even lower profile than a zip tie. Jeremy

  • Bronc213

    Thanks for all of the comments! Sounds like this needs to be developed a bit more. I’ll definitely be checking back soon

  • Walkingman

    Found a Tagg on a trail next to a pile of fur and bones. Pretty badly chewed up and I doubt that it would work. They need to make it coyote proof. Wonder if it could emit a sound to scare coyotes away?

  • frances hlawatsch

    I recently purchased the Tagg unit but after reading all the legal and safety information I am a bit concerened. There is contradicting information about the RF emissions produced by the unit. One section of the legal disclosures sates that since the FCC does not set RF safety standards for pets Tagg chose to use the standards set for humans. Sounds good, right? But deeper down int he legal info it specifically sates “To comply with FCC RF exposure compliance requirements, a separation distance of 20 cm (8 inches) must be maintained between the antennas for the Tagg tracking device and all persons.” So, it is not safe to bring the tracker within 8″ of humans? Then why is it safe to attach to my dog’s neck? I have called Tagg twice with questions about this but was both times referred back to the leagel & safety info. I have requested the specific RF SAR values so I can comare it to that of a cell phone, which is what the Tagg representative tell me it is comparable to. I would love to hear info / advice from others about his.

  • lisaluvsbeagle

    We live in Denver and have a place in the mountains. We tried the Tagg Tracker for our little 20-lb beagle mix. The system worked fine for the first two weeks in the city — it regularly told us when the dog got too far from our house on her daily walks. However, it did not work well in the mountains while hiking. Although i had a cell signal on my Android and was able to access the app just fine, Tagg was unable to locate the dog. Oftentimes, the “cannot locate” email was sent 15 mins. after i had requested a locate. By then, my dog could have been in the next county! I called Tagg after we got back to the city. They told me my dog was “unusually active”, which is why they couldn’t locate her. Ummm … i think those who would be most interested in a tracker are those with active dogs! Tagg also told me that, because of my dog’s high activity level, the tracker was low on battery and should have been recharged. I reminded them that their brochure says the battery will last 30 days, and we were only on day 14. So, anyone with an active dog should recharge the tracker more often than Tagg states. Regardless of these problems, I was willing to recharge the battery and try again the following week when we were next in the mountains. However, Tagg told us that we were nearing the end of the refund period, and we would need to send it back asap if we wanted a refund. Tagg declined to give us another week or two to retest the tracker in the mountains. I suspect they already knew the answer … that the tracker doesn’t work in rural areas, even if you have a cell signal. So, our quest for a GPS small enough for our dog continues …

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/5PJ7XL67K7TWZRJUWDFOBRQPOI DeanV

    You have to MANUALLY start a tracking session. So, say, at 2am you get up, open an “alert” email, and click “start tracking” to open a “session” of 30 min max. What I want to know is: “Where does my pet go when I am not paying attention?”

    There’s a blind “TAGG zone” around the base with the smallest setting about 2 acres. Here’s a GPS with cell service that can’t tell where our pets are beyond “inside the TAGG zone.” I thought this was a TRACKER, not a perimeter monitor!

    We walked the Tagg unit outside and it STILL said it was “inside the TAGG zone.”

    Multiple calls to Snaptracs, multiple resets, multiple “re-syncs”, hours spent. Nada.

    Push the manual PAGE button and after a long wait it tells you that your pet is “inside the TAGG zone,” (thanks a lot!) even when it isn’t (see above).

    I want to know where my pet is and where it has been. “Inside the TAGG zone,” doesn’t cut it, especially when not true.

    So it can’t track inside the TAGG zone, won’t track automatically without your supervision, and when your pet leaves it pretends it is nearby, even when it isn’t. Only this 3rd problem can be blamed on a unit malfunction, the first 2 are product design flaws.

    Oh, and the battery only lasts a few days.

    As a gimmick, OK. Real product: not as advertised.

  • Bart

    How does one establish a geofence. Do you have to place a perimeter wire?

    • Jo

      Wolf-Tek is coming out with a awesome dog tracking device soon. It will also let you draw your own fence or use parcel/GIS data to lock your dog in. The company that built it also designed this product http://www.wolfgis.com.

  • Steve

    Thought I would add my two cents worth:
    I bought two Pettrackers (and one base unit) back on 10/23/11. Following a few long trouble-shooting times on the phone with the Tagg Support team, the best I ever got from the battery was three days.
    One of the devices has received an update and not it only tells me when the device has about three hours of battery left whereas earlier, it at least gave me a full day’s notice. Its no good giving me a txt at 1am because by the time I get up, the device has turned itself off.
    Since the update on one device, the other device is not sending me battery alerts as before and they are sporadic at best. Lately, I charged device #2 yesterday and now I see it is almost empty again. I take the dogs for walks half hour morning and evening so, according to their information, that should last me between one to two weeks – not between one to two days.
    The only positive thing I have noticed since the update is that I am now informed when the updated tracker is in energy saving mode near the station – which really brings it back to the question; – if it is in power saving mode, why is the battery only lasting a few days?

    As for tracking: I had a few hiccups at first but have found everything else to be as stated and quite amazing. The battery is my only complaint, apart from the fact that right off the bat I asked for two replacement units units several times right at the beginning and for the first few months but was always stonewalled.

  • Julie

    For those who were not satisfied with TAGG, have you found anything better? Or is it the best on the market right now?

  • Nicki

    is this collar waterproof?

  • http://twitter.com/JackofKitemanTV Jack Tyler

    An entirely different approach for
    indoor cats and traveling cats is the robotic locater, the Cat
    Flasher. Forget radio frequency or GPS devices for indoor cats
    because when they get out, they get under houses and things where no
    signal can reach. With the Cat Flasher, you just change the battery
    every six months. Get that on Amazon.

  • Honey

    Sucks!! It doesn’t work so why pay all that money for FALSE security?? I took mine back, save yourself the trouble and don’t buy it. Also don’t like that I have to place a credit card online to even activate it so they can charge you after the first 3 free months. No credit card, No can use. Why should i have to file my credit card number on line so hackers can get it?

  • Buzz

    Do not buy this ! Very misleading product. The battery life is about 2-3 days. I was told that it was the area I was in the the way my house was built, etc. I live in a suburban area with great Verizon coverage and my house is U shaped with a center courtyard for the dogs. No distance grater than 50 yards from the base – I was a slave to the charger ! I moved to another area and another house and it was worse ! I got a lot of run around from some very nice people….now the tag ” fell off ” after being on tightly for a day – I changed my geo fence to see if this thing was accurate. And of course, it is not ( I bought two, same problem with both ) – The misery of the product is greater than the peace of mind it is supposed to offer – Save your money