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Gadget Review: High-tech portable wireless dog fence – Good for RVers?

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What’s the best way to keep Buddy confined to your campsite? Don’t like the idea of tying your dog to a spike in the ground or keeping her in a fenced area while camping? SpotOn GPS Fence could be a solution.

Promising advanced GPS technology, no wires and seemingly endless flexibility, an entrepreneur developed SpotOn, which promises to “Create GPS dog fences of any size, any shape and almost anywhere.”

The company says the next-generation SpotOn GPS Fence is now more reliable, flexible, and easy to use thanks to their True Location™ technology.

The SpotOn collar and GPS app
Source: Screen capture from spotonfence.com

Electric dog fences have been around for a long time but most are in-ground wire-based and have little to no portability. Wireless technology improved that, but many early systems suffered problems with range and interference. So could a new tech system be worth $1,500?

How much does SpotOn cost?

The SpotOn GPS Fence will run you $1,495 plus a subscription plan of $10/month at AT&T (U.S. and Canada) or Verizon (U.S. only)!

GPS and wireless technology have come a long way, and you can find wireless, portable fence systems for as little as $135. Most systems use a combination of sound and electric shocks to warn and zap your dog, and most require some training to get effective performance.

The standard brand out there, and getting good reviews, is PetSafe, which has multiple styles ranging from $160 to $370 per system. It even has one that will accommodate cats and small dogs 5 lbs. or more. Their systems do not use GPS, only wireless. So the coverage area is circular, dependent on the local transmitter signal, and has limited range. Because the area cannot be programmed, I cannot see these systems being used in an RV park with 15 x 45 ft. sites. It certainly could be used while camping in the woods with no nearby neighbors to worry about.

So is SpotOn good for RVing pups?

That’s what makes the new GPS technology advantageous. SpotOn uses GPS satellite technology that allows you to design numerous play areas by merely walking with your phone to define the perimeter. The wireless technology uses an advanced high-sensitivity GPS/GLONASS/Galileo/Beidou receiver. This is apparently more reliable and precise. SpotOn allows many perimeter programs, even allowing overlapping, and the areas can be much, much larger than the old wireless technology allows.

Another wireless GPS collar, Halo, uses GPS and GNSS and uses manual fence posts while SpotOn does not. Halo requires an AT&T cellular subscription to set up the area, but you lose advanced features. SpotOn can also work without the cellular subscription—you just lose long-distance tracking and alerts using your phone.

I think the advanced GPS tracking is the best feature of these collars—even if you only use the wireless fence at home. The GPS tracking in the collar is active anywhere you take your dog. It is important to note, though, that you can find advanced GPS collars that do the same thing (without the fence) for a much lower cost.

The collars come in various sizes; however, the choices are limited for very small dogs. SpotOn’s small size goes down to a 10″ neck and Halo’s minimum size is 11″. From what I can tell, most systems also have a minimum weight not much below 10 lb.

What’s the glitch?

What’s the glitch? It needs a minimum of 1/2 acre to work properly. So, it’s not good for RV sites in parks not much larger than an acre. Most systems, even the non-GPS systems, have a buffer zone that warns your pet he is approaching what I will call the Zap Zone. SpotOn requires a 15-ft. buffer zone along the entire perimeter. Here is their graphic depiction:

So, there are some very good options for portable wireless dog fences, some inexpensive and some very expensive. But I don’t think any of them are useful for RV park camping. Many parks are squeezing in as many sites as they can, so the space for pooch is limited. However, these are wonderful options for large home yards and perhaps boondocking in the wilds.

In my fantasy world, I envision an RV park with fenced dog areas at each site or, better yet, an entirely fenced site. Really? I must do some research. Has anyone come across such a park? Send me a note at drkarel(at)gmail.com.

Has anyone had success with any portable wireless dog fence while traveling? Please share your experiences in the comments below.

##RVT1079

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Wolfe
19 days ago

A few technical corrections:

  • GNSS is the generic for satellite location systems – GPS usually refers to ours in the US, but here are others…
  • GPS/GLONASS/Galileo/Beidou are the US/Russian/European/Chinese constellations respectively. They don’t make US GPS any more accurate, in fact they are modestly-to-radically worse.

With turning off Selective Availabilty (intentional degradation), civilian-access GPS is now good to about 5 feet. The one on my desk is good to a centimeter, but you generally can’t have that. There are ways to augment the GPS, but 5 feet is probably good enough in this application already.

The real problem is the micro-sites themselves, as you noted. Even if my collar is accurate to 1cm, a 20′ wide side is only a couple paces to my dog, so to give much “OK” space, one step at the edge might cross from “fine” through “warning” and into “shock” zone. That WOULD be cruel.

Zane Dargaty
20 days ago

Agree with all the comments. This is a product looking for a use where there isn’t any, not for the traveling RV’r anyway. One possible use would be on BLM land or something similar, but I wouldn’t want my pet to have that much freedom on what is essentially wild land, a 1/2 acre is 21000+ square feet. That’s a lot of property to let a pet run free when you can’t monitor them.

M D-B
20 days ago

Aside from “no dogs left outside alone” rule electric fences are just a bad idea. The dog can run through the shock making them less liable to return on its own for fear of another shock. Most importantly it won’t keep other dogs out. That idiot in the campground who doesn’t leash its dog and said dog rushes your collared dog who has nowhere to go. Electric/electronic fences are a bad idea.

Rammer
20 days ago
Reply to  M D-B

We would never use a system such as this. I agree with M D-B completely, too much danger from a stray entering the circle and your dog will not cross the line if it does return.

Bob p
20 days ago

First you Sid many times you didn’t think this would work well in a campground so what’s the point of writing for this newsletter? Second you didn’t say what kind of “warning” the dog gets that it’s about to reach the end of the electronic chain, if it is a shock or a high pitch sound I consider those to be cruel. Third you said it requires a 1/2 acre to be effective, even in our previous rural town we only had less than a 1/4 acre lot. I think most RV parks have a rule about leaving pets unattended, we live in a resort RV park and can’t leave pets out side.

Bob p
20 days ago

So you could’ve said this isn’t going to work if you don’t own a half acre of land. As is stated above some dogs know they’re going to be shocked but they still run through to escape but are very hesitant to return. There was a German Shepard the last place we lived that stayed inside an invisible fence until it saw a delivery truck, then it would run through the electronic fence with a yelp and chase the truck. Then return and lay down outside the yard until someone turned it off.

Wolfe
19 days ago
Reply to  Bob p

I agree with all the comments that radio fences are generally stupid in campsites, although I’ve actually seen wire-loop-on-ground done in larger/longer-term sites.

I do use a radio fence on my home property, and to answer BobP’s question, my “stubborn dog” PS system gives a vibration first, then beeping if ignored, then a ramping static (not brain-frying right off, although it CAN go high if ignored). NO, it’s not cruel for a simple reason: TRAINING. None of my dogs ever walk past the vibrating warning zone.

Speaking of which, I’m a big believer in animal “enrichment” so constantly train my dogs to ABSOLUTELY obey and to do “smarter things” akin to service/guide dogs. They love the attention and challenge, and being “used” to obeying makes them 99+% reliable (and easily guided) off-leash. If you’re relying on a radio or rope in order to trust your dogs, you’re doing it wrong.