We need to get a monitoring system to keep our dog safe in the RV when we do adventures that he can’t attend. We really don’t want to have a monthly phone plan for it but will if it is necessary. Which monitoring system do you recommend? —Linda
I have not used a pet monitoring system for several years as our pet passed away. With the girls grown up and going off to college and beyond, we decided to become empty pet nesters. However, I have done quite a bit of research on the subject for my popular Traveling With Pets seminar that I conduct at RV shows across the country.
In my research I have surveyed our readers as well as worked with local veterinarians to see what they recommend. However, the best information has come from actual owners that I talk to at the shows and rallies. Most of the owners have installed the “chip.” However, if your pet runs, they have to find the pet to scan the chip—which doesn’t do any good if “Fido” is wandering around in the woods!
There are three types of monitoring devices that are being used: cell signal, GPS, and WiFi. Here are some of the pros and cons.
I first came across a product called Marcell while conducting seminars at the NC Raleigh RV Show. One of the vendors that sold pet-related products used this. He has two dogs that stay at the local campground while he sells at the show. It is Verizon-based, and he has always had good signals.
The advantage is the cell signal is much more dependable than WiFi and typically cheaper than GPS. The disadvantage, in my opinion, is it’s a temperature and humidity monitor only, not a tracker if your pet takes off and gets lost.
WiFi-based monitoring systems
WiFi-based systems require a good WiFi signal—which is sketchy at best in most campgrounds. However, there are several in my seminars that have their own Hotspot and use this feature.
The best that I have found is the GPS systems that utilize both cell and GPS tracking such as Whistle, Waggle, and a new one that has become popular, FI.
It uses LTE-M tracking, which is a new technology for lower power, longer tracking. It’s a little more expensive and does have a subscription fee. However, most of the GPS monitors that I have researched also have a subscription fee for tracking features.
I would suggest you start by researching your current cell phone program. How successful has it has been in coverage where you are RVing, and how is the overall WiFi coverage? Based on that information, determine which is the best fit.
I also would like to open up the discussion to our readers to see what they have found to be the most successful in the different regions of the country. From my seminars, it seems the Whistle and Waggle have been the most popular. Hopefully, our readers will have some feedback.
Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club.
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