Real-time dog tracking using GPS (and almost for free)

Published by Supertortuga on 2016-01-05

Disclaimer: Supertortuga is not responsible for lost dogs.

Sounds good to track dogs. But what about turtles?

Most dog owner have found themselves in the situation of the dog having run away on its own endeavors with listening to the master' calls. They also tend to choose the most inapprropriate occasions, for example when its master has an important appointment or when it has just started raining. Apart from being frustrating that the dog disobeys, the situation can also be potentially dangerous for the dog (it can find unsuitable things to eat or cross roads with heavy traffic) or it may cause inconvenience for others.

The only real solution is naturally to teach the dog to attend to its masters' call to come to him. The calling is likely the most important you can teach a dog, and when it works it is the result of a (often long-lasting) process based on the mutual respect and trust between master and dog - there is a lot of litterature about this, and I will not bring it up here. If the dog disobeys, we may be forced to limits its freedom ov movement using a leash or only let it loose within fenced areas. However, in order to train the dog and studiy its behaviour without these limitsm it is necessary to let it loose - with the risk of having it running away.

In this article I will show how we can track the dog in real-tim using mobile phone technology.

Commercial solution to follow the dogs' position

Normally the dog will move in the proximity of its master, but for different reason it can run away (for example, a rabbit or a bird can trigger the dogs' hunting instincts or a strong sound can scare it) and suddenly it has run to far away to find its way back home. Or, the dog is just curious and wants to go on a voyage of discovery. In my case it was an umbrella that scared our 6 months old puppy and suddenly it was lost without a trace and without listening to my calls. After 45 long minutes I found her and the story had a happy ending.

Since my desire to let the dog loose was stronger than my fear of it running away, I tried to find solutions on how to control its position. For private individual there are tracing system and gps receivers with more or less advanced ways to connect to the master. For hunting dogs there are several different systems that use gps and radio to transmit the dogs' position in real-time. The cheaper system have obvious flaws, such as a limited tracking range or that the position is sent using sms (that is, not in real-time and we all know how quickly a dog can move). The more expensive systems do not have these flaws, since they communicate using the GSM network or even by satellite, on the other have they are... expensive..

How to track your dog in real-time (and almost for free)

After having searched the Net for simple and inexpensive solutions, finally I foun a solution that offers me real-time tracking of the dog, and at a very modest cost.

This is what I used:

My solution is ,as you can see above, built on Android based mobile phone. Users of other system will have to convert to Android :-) (or search for corresponding apps).

Note! Since this system uses GPRS over the mobile phone network for the communication between dog and master, it is important to have mobile phone coverage in the area where to will let your dog loose. The system uses the position from the GPS satellites, for which the system works best outdoors.

What you need: two Android mobile phones and a holster and dogs harness

What you need: two Android mobile phones and a holster and dogs harness

What you need: two Android mobile phones and a holster and dogs harness
The holster attached to the dogs harness
The dogs harness attached to the dog
The app app Real-Time Tracker 2 running

Configuration of transmitter and receiver

Before the system can be used, the phones and the apps must be installed and configured. This is described briefly below:

OBS! The application is free but has ads. For a small amount you can have an ad-free version - remember that something which is worth using is worth paying for.

GPS tracking should be a standard feature on all dogs.

Now we can test the system

Before using the system in a real situation, you should make sure that it works as intended, which is ideally done with the dog on a leash (or without a dog for that matter).

When using the system, the dogs' phone transmits its position to the central database of the appmaker, from which the connected receiving phones retrieve the position data.You can also log in to the website of appmaker Greenalps and follow the position from any terminal (desktop, tablet...) connected to the Internet. In the app, you will see your own position, as well as the position of the connected friends. If you click on the dogs' position, you will see it speed and direction. Remaining battery capacity is also showm, which can be interesting.

Using this information it is easy to follow they dog, and find it if it gets lost. The video below will give you an idea of how the system can be used.

Conclusion and other usage applications

By using standard mobile phones with existing GPS and GSM networks, we can control our dogs' position at a very modest cost. But the possible application are endless. Perhaps you want to share your position when you do some hardcore off-road trekking - your family will feel more comfortable if they know where your are.

Feel freed to share your experiences using the comment system below.


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