SpotOn GPS Dog Fence Review
4 Paws up for SpotOn Fence! Got a dog who likes to roam? We've tested the SpotOn GPS Dog Fence, and it might be the solution for you.
Pets aren’t just animals we keep around - they are members of the family, and you want to keep them safe. Dogs especially fall into this category for me, and I try to do whatever I can to keep my puppies happy and around. When it comes time to let your pooches outside to do their business, you usually have a few options. Tie-out cables work ok, except they can get tangled or break, and if this happens during the night, it can be a massive headache. Fenced-in pens are very costly, especially since the days of Covid when it seemed every farm supply store had a run on fence materials and the costs went way up. Underground fences are a great way to contain your dog in your yard, but there were some limitations that always made it a hard sell for me. You had to establish a perimeter, usually with a buried wire, and once that perimeter was set, there it was. If anything disrupted the line, the whole thing could go down, too. When I got the chance to try out the SpotOn GPS Fence, I jumped at it, as it seemed like the answer I was looking for.
Before I get too far into why I was interested in the SpotOn GPS Fence, let me tell you why I was so interested. I am a sucker for a sob story, and Daisy was one such story. My local animal shelter took her in when her owner no longer wanted to take care of her. She’s a purebred Newfoundland who, for the first two years of her life, didn’t really have any home life. Aside from the gentle nature of the breed, she didn’t have much training, and didn't even respond to her name. I have a mostly enclosed yard, save for a gap that leads out to an open field - a gap Daisy found the moment she got herself free of the leash. I needed something.
How it works
The SpotOn GPS Fence is exactly what it sounds like. It uses GPS technology and cellular service to set up an electric fence around your property. GPS uses satellites to pinpoint locations for navigation anywhere on the planet. It didn’t take long for the technology to transfer into setting boundaries, too. I have had some experience with using GPS for agriculture and most big farming operations use GPS to manage fields and orchards to get the maximum use from a field. I watched an apple grower plant an entire orchard using GPS and saw as it told him precisely where to plant each tree to completely cover an open space, ensuring that every bit of land he could use was being put into trees. That system used GPS markers to be hyper accurate, and while the SpotOn system is pretty close, it is not to that level of accuracy. This isn’t a complaint, however, as that level requires thousands of dollars in specialized equipment.
As for the cellular side, you can get the SpotOn set up to use AT&T or Verizon service. That should cover you most places. I worry about it when I’m camping, as some of the places I like to camp are, shall we say, remote. So far, however, it doesn’t seem to be much of an issue.
The SpotOn GPS Fence allows you to set a perimeter for your dog. You select a starting point and walk the perimeter you want to set. The collar and app work together to record your perimeter and set it as the boundary for your pooch. You give yourself some space by not getting too close to the road. This is because of two reasons. One, you don’t want your dog to associate going close to the road is a good thing ever, and two, the actual perimeter of the GPS fence system will shift slightly depending upon GPS signal strength. Since GPS uses satellites in orbit, the signal strength depends upon how many satellites are overhead at a given moment. The signal strength and location causes the points to shift slightly. It’s still pretty accurate, but there can be variances of 5-10 feet. This is why it is so important to not set the line too close to the road.
You have simple instructions to follow on the app to set the perimeter and it can be used for up to 5 acres, which makes for a BIG area for your pooch. You wouldn’t be able to fence in that much space for what this unit costs, and that is cool.
The gear is pretty simple, actually. It consists of the collar, which is a combination of a training collar and a GPS tracking collar. In the event that your pooch escapes the fence, you can track it down. Luckily for me, that hasn’t been an issue, yet. Daisy is a smart dog - stubborn , but smart. It took one minor correction for her to realize that when the collar emits the alert tone, she wants no part of the correction afterwards. The collar will send out the alert when the collar is roughly 10 feet from the perimeter. It comes with two sets of contact points that you select based upon coat thickness. Daisy has no shortage of hair, so the long points worked best. There is also a tester, a charging cord and base and the collar itself. The rest of the controls are done via an app for your phone.
Like I said, Daisy is stubborn, but smart. We didn’t have to go too far down the path to see how much it would take to correct her wanding. One minor experience was enough. I have used training collars before with other dogs. My golden retriever took to the collar so fast that the contact points weren’t even required anymore. She heard the noise and immediately shifted her behavior. She liked to chase chickens. I had a beagle several years ago that, well, was 100% beagle, meaning she didn’t take well to the collar. Once she got her nose on a scent she wanted to follow, she wasn’t stopping until she was ready to.
One of my favorite parts of the SpotOn GPS Fence is the portability of it. We like to travel and camp, and the system is entirely portable. You can set a perimeter easily and I have one saved for my house, my mother’s farm, my in-law’s property and can set one up in a matter of minutes when we arrive at a new location. It is perfect for AirBnB use, too.
For camping, I’d suggest selecting a campsite that is on the bigger side, as the system likes areas that are at least ½ acre in size. I wouldn’t, therefore recommend it as your only option for those small, tighter campsites. I never camp at places like that anyway, but should I, I would use a traditional tie-out cable as my main plan.
I'm not going to lie - the initial cost for the SpotOn GPS Fence is higher than a traditional underground fence. However, the pluses far outweigh the cost disadvantages, in my opinion. Like I said right at the start - Dogs are family members, and I want them safe. There is a subscription cost associated with the collar, as well, as you pay for the service. It’s a few bucks per month, but you get a price break with one and two-year prepaid plans. If you take your dog to more than one place on a regular basis, as we do, then it is an easy call to make. The Spot On GPS Fence system makes sense for us and it fits our doggy lifestyle.
But what does Daisy think?
Woof! Woof! Woof! Woof!
Oh, you don’t speak dog? Let me do my best to translate it for you. The number one thing she likes is that the collar is waterproof, and now that she has more freedom, she can jump into the pond and frolic with the ducks. She is from Newfoundland, after all, so swimming is part of the deal. The collar does a complete charge in an hour, so we take it off at night and charge it up. The battery lasts 18 hours for the fence, or 8 hours if we had to track her down. Daisy promised me that she wouldn’t wander off any more, so I haven’t had a chance to test that feature out. I tried to use the track feature in the yard the other day, but when I’m outside with her, she tends to come stand right next to me. She might be begging for a treat… Which she usually gets because I’m a pushover.
I think Daisy’s biggest concern, and maybe mine too, was that she wouldn’t respond well to the little zap from the collar if she crossed the line. Like I said, she didn’t exactly have the best home life before she came to live with my family. It has made her a little shy and slightly timid at times. I can’t really tell you how she has reacted to it yet, because she hasn’t gone past where the collar just makes noise. She hears the beeping and it stops her in her tracks. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear she had been trained with a collar beforehand, but I’m fairly certain she had no training before she came to my house. I asked her and she told me that she’d be happy to discuss it over some more treats.
Overall, I am happy with the SpotOn GPS Fence. It is a cool product that gives you a lot more options than a traditional underground fence, and gives your dog more freedom on your property. The cost is a little high, but my dog is worth it, and I suspect yours is too. Daisy gives it four paws up, and I gave her some extra belly scratches for helping me with this story.
More by Derrek Sigler