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Ask Dave: What is the best pet monitoring device?

Dear Dave,
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

Dear 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.

Cell phone

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.

GPS systems

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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Donald Schneider
7 months ago

We use BLINK because the cameras also have temperature settings…which was our main worry. We were afraid the power would go out and the AC would not come back on. The cameras use battery and the Sync module has a small external battery connected. We use wifi hotspots and most campgrounds have a decent cellular signal. We carry 3 hotspots all the time…Verizon ( straight talk), Boost and T-mobile. We check the camera before we leave in case we need to change to a different wifi. We have Starlink on order so hope to just use that in the future.

Bob Weithofer
7 months ago

I use a couple of Panasonic web cameras. They provide temperature, video and sound alerts with settable ranges. Anything outside the set range, results in you receiving a text alert on your phone. Because of our two active dogs, we have set the video detection zone to just around the entry door to reduce the number of alarms we receive. They also allow me to observe what is happening in the RV and communicate with the dogs or whoever is in the RV. You can also record the video and sound. Of course you need a wifi signal for them to be effective. I use a Pepwave router with Verizon and T-Mobile SIM cards for this connection. The cameras were inexpensive, about $50 each. My wife is very happy with the fact that they have a shutter that completely covers the camera when not in use. The best part is that there are no ongoing monthly costs.

Karel Carnohan
7 months ago

Waggle.

I have been very pleased with it and have had no issues at all with cell reception. It warns you if battery is low as well as temp warnings.

Kevin
7 months ago

We use Barkio

Either on wifi or using cell as hotspot. Works on droid, Windows and apple. No hardware needed, I use an old phone as the “monitor” or our ipad. $30 a year, works great. Sends notifications on movement and or noise. You can talk to your pet as well.

Downside – my wife is infatuated with watching our dogs.

Brian Burry
7 months ago

We are very pleased with the MarCell system, as we secure our doggie in our Motorhome but need to know if the power goes out, or if it becomes too hot. It is very easy to see so on the cell phone app. We do not trust Wi-Fi and after two years of use find this a solid product.

David
7 months ago

We have a Hotspot that we connect the monitor to.
The monitors are fairly cheap.
We use a monitor that follows movement, night vision and connects to our phones.
In other words its web based. We can hear them and speak to them from monitor.
Pretty cool.
All for less then $30 for monitor and our Hotspot is $49 monthly ( from FMCA) it has unlimited data.
Pretty handy deal.

Nick
7 months ago

We use RV Whisper. We can monitor multiple systems in the Rig, including Temp/Leaks/Door Open/Power etc in real time. No monthly fees as it works off the wifi in my Rig. Priced really well through FMCA.

Tom H
7 months ago

Been using Waggle for almost a year now. It uses a Verizon cell signal and we’ve not experienced signal issues yet. The Waggle monitors Temperature and Humidity and both upper/lower limits can be set by the owner. Any rise above or drop below the presets will send a text alert to saved numbers. With the app you can also view the temp and humidity any time. Additionally the Waggle has a built in GPS so you know where your rig is in the event you get lost or it is stolen.

Dave Kaye
7 months ago
Reply to  Tom H

Second for Waggle. It has been bulletproof.

Karel Carnohan
7 months ago
Reply to  Tom H

Waggle is great.

TIM MCRAE
7 months ago

We use Drone Mobile. It is an enhancement to the RV (motorhome) alarm/remote start.

It has built in cellular (at&t I think). It reports temp in the RV, power is on off, alarm goes off. Can remote unlock (if someone needs to get the dogs out), and it will track the RV real time if it gets stolen. It is a little pricey but it is very advanced and reliable

If the power goes out or temp is high or low, we can remote start to run engine AC or heat as a backup.

I also use remote start to charge the batteries every 2 or 3 weeks while the RV is in winter storage.

We also do hotspot wifi for doggie cams. We use the cheap Wyze Cams because they tell us if the dogs are yapping or if smoke/CO/Gas alarms are sounding.