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April 2nd, 2015 at 9:00 am

Puppy technology

Wondering if the dog walker you hired really took Fido out on the leash or just sat on the couch watching “Scooby-Doo” reruns? Want a map of where Fluffy is prowling on her nightly scavenges?

These days, pinpointing pets’ whereabouts is easy, whether they’re outdoors or inside. The same GPS tracking technology that lets employers check the locations of their delivery trucks, scientists follow dolphin migration patterns, and vessel operators find shipping containers is available in collar-size, rechargeable electronics.

Pet-tracking methods have been available for some time, including microchip implants that require special readers, tattoos with accompanying collar-notification tag, and collar antennas that transmit to dedicated radio receivers. GPS tracking, though, has taken off in recent years, especially with the rise of smartphones and tablets that let owners track animals on the go.

Pets are free to roam after their tracker has been charged up via USB cable or wall socket. Owners pay a monthly or annual subscription fee to view the animal’s location in real time on a secure site via Google or other map, or via a dedicated phone app. Some even help owners find the nearest vet, pet park, and pet store near an animal’s location. The best will show a pet’s “escape route” on the map if it strays or is stolen.

Accuracy and battery life can vary depending on device type. So do other features, such as durability. Here are some things to look for before you outfit your four-legged friend with the latest in satellite-linked gear:

Vetstreet.com and other sites offer descriptions and comparisons of the many types of pet trackers available. Do your research to track down the right product that will keep your pet out of the doghouse.

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