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I received a SpotOn GPS Fence training collar for Apollo in exchange for my honest thoughts. I originally planned to return the collar to the company because I didn’t want the smoke from the dog training community. Fellow dog lovers reminded me that it’s essential to keep an open mind and continue learning, so I charged the collar and headed outside to create my first fence.
What is the SpotOn GPS Fence?
The SpotOn GPS Fence is a tool that helps us train our dogs on the boundaries of our property. The collar uses sound, vibration, and static to warn our dogs (and us through a smartphone app) as they approach the property boundary. The GPS allows us to track and locate a dog accurately should they cross the boundary.
The fencing system has a training collar, two sets of connectors (in different sizes), a charger, and an instruction booklet. Dog owners download a smartphone app that is used to:
- mark boundaries
- track the dog
- turn off/on the vibration and static features
In this article, I’ll be sharing my thoughts after using the SpotOn GPS fence for a few weeks with our dog Apollo, a four year old Husky/Golden Retriever cross.
Is the SpotOn GPS Fence a Shock Collar?
No. the SpotOn collar does have an option to deliver a static correction after a dog has ignored the sound and the vibration. However, this feature is optional. I tested both the vibration and static on myself. The vibration feels like when a phone vibrates in your pocket. The static feels similar to placing your tongue on a battery at level 4; I couldn’t feel anything on levels 1, 2, or 3. I didn’t raise it beyond level 4.
I did not test the static on Apollo, but I did try the vibration. He heard the tone, and he felt the vibration and neither appeared to bother or deter him.
I chose not to use the static feature because I’m not comfortable using aversive training methods without the direct guidance of a professional dog trainer. This collar does have the power to cause pain and fear – a couple that used the static correct shared an experience where the dog was repeatedly corrected while inside the yard.
SpotOn GPS Fence: Marking Boundries
It was easy to mark the boundaries. I charged the collar and carried it around the property with my smartphone. The app tracked me as I walked out property line. The warnings (sound, vibration) start several feet from the boundaries – further than I liked. While this wasn’t a big deal given the size of our property, this will need to be adjusted for small yards.
SpotOn GPS Fence: Training without Static Correction
What I liked about the collar was being able to connect it with a command. Whenever Apollo approached the boundary, I would get a notification through the smartphone app. I would say, “back in the yard,” and reward Apollo with a treat.
SpotOn GPS Fence: Does it Work?
The SpotOn GPS Fence won’t keep my dogs on our property, although there are reviews of it safely containing dogs. Our dogs have a 300 foot yard using the PetPlaygrounds fencing system, and it does an excellent job keeping our dogs safely contained inside the yard while keeping wildlife out of the yard. The SpotOn collar allows us to enjoy the unfenced portion of our property safely.
While I don’t doubt that many dogs can be trained to stay in the yard with or without the static correction, Apollo’s drive for attention and his love for our neighbors will not be detered by a tone or vibration.
SpotOn GPS Fence: Will it Keep Predators Out?
No. That is not how this fence works. Some trainers will tell you that this collar…
- is not guaranteed to keep your dog in the yard
- will prevent your dog from safely making it into the yard
- will leave your dog vulnerable to predators
- will leave your dog vulnerable to other dogs using a GPS collar
- local garage door openers will sync to the GPS fence
The only statement that is 100% true is the first statement. It’s important to note that the SpotOn GPS fence doesn’t offer a guarantee. How well the system works is up to dog owners and training.
Using the tone and vibration, Apollo didn’t have an issue coming in and out of the yard. If he left the property to say “hi” to the neighbors, he would come home without hesitation. Our dogs aren’t left unsupervised when outside of their yard. Our primary local predator is a coyote, and they keep a distance when we’re outside. Other dogs coming onto our property will not trigger the SpotOn GPS fence because those dogs aren’t registered on our system. And the GPS fence isn’t connected to garage door openers. It’s only connected to the SpotOn GPS app.
SpotOn GPS Fence: Can it Double as a Training Collar?
This isn’t an option if you’re looking for a training collar that can be used as a GPS collar. There isn’t a separate remote to help you deliver a tone, vibration, or static correction. These corrections only happen when the dog approaches the boundaries previously set by the dog owner.
SpotOn GPS Fence: Is GPS Safe for Dogs
GPS collars are believed to be safe to use on dogs. Although it does use cellular networks to send data, it’s said that the EMF (electromagnetic field) produced is at the very low end and not harmful. However, there aren’t any studies that I find confirming the safety of EMF at any level, and some in the dog lover community believe some dogs are sensitive to wireless systems.
SpotOn GPS Fence: The Cost
At the time of this post, a collar costs $1,295. There is also an optional subscription service.
- $7.95/month if you prepay for one year
- $5.95/month if you prepay for two years
The subscription gives you access to GPS services in low service areas, allows you to locate your dog at the touch of a button, and it provides automatic alerts and tracking if your dog leaves the boundary.
The Pros of the SpotOn GPS Fence
1 – Static Correction is Optional
The main reason I wanted to review this collar is the optional static correction. Because I don’t have experience with training collars, I don’t feel comfortable using a product that delivers a static or shock correction. This feature makes this collar an option for dog owners who don’t want to use static corrections or feel that they are unsafe or inhumane.
There are a few dog trainers who are spreading misinformation about the SpotOn GPS collar. At the time of this review, no dogs were electrocuted, nor had the collar exploded on a dog’s neck. This is propaganda being spread by people who do not like training collars.
2 – Boundaries are Easy to Set Up and Change
The SpotOn GPS fence is easy to set up, and we can make multiple boundaries (up to 1,500) through various types of terrain. This allows dog owners to move without extra costs or travel with the collar. If a boundary is no longer necessary, it can be deleted. I was able to set up a boundary that crossed ponds, trees, and high brush with ease.
3 – No Construction Necessary
The SpotOn GPS fence doesn’t require the installation of an actual fence or digging holes to lay wire for an invisible fencing system. This makes the SpotOn fence a better option for renters, people who travel with their dogs, and homeowners on a tight budget.
4 – Training is Easy
Apollo picked up on the boundaries quickly. If I chose to continue with the collar, I know that I would be able to achieve consistent behavior (staying in the yard) out of my dog. Apollo isn’t food motivated, so I had to find a high quality treat (turkey hotdogs), and limiting training to two 10-15 minute sessions daily worked best.
5 – Cellular Service isn’t Necessary
Because the collar uses GPS, cellular service isn’t necessary, making this collar a great option if cell service is spotty in your area. And the collar won’t eat up the data on your cell plan.
6 – Subscription is Optional
The optional subscription service is a unique feature with SpotOn GPS Fence. After spending more than $1,000 on a collar, it ‘s nice to know that we don’t also have to pay for a monthly service we may not need.
7 – The GPS is Accurate
The GPS is accurate within three feet when searching beneath a clear sky, ten feet under heavy tree cover, or near buildings.
The Cons of the SpotOn GPS Fence
1 – The SpotOn Fence is Expensive
Although this collar may be less expensive than fencing the yard, it’s still an investment that isn’t affordable to everyone. If you live in a multi-dog home, each dog needs a collar and subscription plan, although all can be monitored on one app.
I can think of two options that may work better for some dog owners:
- Invest in a dog trainer instead.
- Check out the PetPlaygrounds dog fencing system.
- Add an Airtag with a cover to your dog’s collar.
2 – The Collar Always Needs to be Charged
I only used the collar when I was outside the dog yard with Apollo. He didn’t wear the collar 24/7, and the power would drain if not left on the charger. This wasn’t too much of a big deal because I charge my phone every night, so I began charging the collar too. But it did take some getting used to.
3 – Irresponsible Use of Static Corrections
Although the static correction is optional, there are people who will buy this collar and lean too heavily on this aversive option in training; the static correction has 30 levels. While this may work for some dogs, it will harm others, creating a fear of going outside. This is why I chose not to use the static feature of this collar.
4 – GPS and EMF May Be Harmful to Dogs
There is concern that putting collars that emit EMF so close to our dogs’ thyroid and brain will have a negative long term impact. However, I couldn’t find consistent information showing that these products are harmful. This was another reason to remove the collar when it wasn’t in use.
5 – Some GPS Trackers are Vulnerable to Hacking
I tried to find information on how SpotOn is safe from hackers. But what I did read about the common vulnerabilities is concerning. READ: Are Pet Trackers With GPS Safe to Use?
Final Thoughts on the SpotOn GPS Fence
I think the SpotOn GPS Fence is an excellent option for responsible pet parents who are willing to do the work to train their dogs. If someone is looking for a shortcut, then this tool may be abused. Fortunately, the SpotOn GPS team is available to help pet parents, and if it’s in your budget, you can work with a dog trainer as you introduce your dog to this system.
I would rather spend the money on a PetPlaygrounds system. It’s a DIY system that can be constructed on the weekend for many sites. And it can be moved if you move. And for tracking, I’m going back and forth between the Fi Dog Collar, which offers fitness tracking, and Airtags for my dogs’ collars.
I did appreciate having a tool that helped me better communicate with my dogs without harming my dogs.
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