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WARNING: Using an Apple AirTag to Track Your Dog Isn’t a “Hack”—It’s Dangerous!

The latest “life hack” for dog owners may be putting your furry best friend in danger.

Since Apple released the AirTag in April 2021, there’s been a flurry of popular internet articles and viral social media posts that suggest using the device as a means to track your dog’s location in case they get lost.

This is a mistake.

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For those unaware, an AirTag is a small, quarter-sized tracking device that is intended to be a convenient way to keep tabs on commonly lost or stolen items.  Instead of using conventional GPS tracking, it uses the extensive network of iPhone users to locate lost items via Bluetooth.

If you lose an item and your AirTag comes within range of an iPhone user, you’ll be notified of it’s location.  It sounds pretty convenient and, at a price of only $29.99, it seems like a bargain too!

So, what’s wrong with making this inexpensive investment in your dog’s safety? 

The danger is that for $29.99, all dog owners are buying is a false sense of security.

Here are three reasons why dog owners should steer clear of this latest trend…

Apple Specifically Advises Against It

Apple is in the business of making as much money as possible.  By including tracking lost pets as a potential use for the AirTag, Apple could easily take a huge bite out of the $200+ billion global pet industry.

Instead, they specifically advise against it.  In an interview with Fast Company, Apple’s VP of worldwide iPhone product marketing was quick to shoot down the idea of attaching an AirTag to pets.

Lost wallets are one thing…losing your furry family member is a far more devastating event.  It appears as though Apple realizes their device is unlikely to reliably locate lost pets and is trying to preemptively protect themselves from potential lawsuits that could come as a result of this product misuse.

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It Failed Miserably During Our Testing

Don’t get me wrong, I love “life hacks” andfinding creative solutions to everyday problems!  As soon as I saw other dog owners using this product, I was quick to order one as well as a third-party dog collar attachment I found on Amazon.

The AirTag and collar attachment I purchased on Amazon.

Before trusting the AirTag with my dog’s safety, I was going to make sure it would work consistently.

I had a family member walk my Goldendoodle, Chewie, around three different areas while I did my best to track their location at home from my iPhone.  We tried three different routes to simulate where many dog owners may live.

The Apple AirTag attached to my dog’s collar.

Here are the results…

Suburban Development

The first route was probably the most challenging—a suburban development in Emmaus, Pennsylvania.  The houses in this neighborhood have large yards and are far back from the street.  This makes it harder for an iPhone’s Bluetooth signal to reach my dog’s AirTag.

During Chewie’s 1.2 mile walk, only once was his AirTag located.  So, if you live in a sparse suburban or rural area, don’t count on having much luck if your pup gets lost.

Townhome Community

Next up for testing was a group of townhome communities in Emmaus, Pennsylvania.  With houses close together and not far back from the street, I figured this route had a good shot of being able to consistently locate my dog.

I was wrong.

Over the course of walking almost a mile next to houses the entire time, Chewie’s AirTag wasn’t located a single time.  Not good.

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Urban City Streets

The third and final route my dog walked with his shiny new AirTag was the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

This densely-populated area is filled with iPhone-loving college students and houses are right next to the sidewalk.  This made it the ideal environment for someone’s Bluetooth signal to pick up an AirTag outside.

On the entire 1.5 mile walk, his location was picked up by a nearby iPhone only one time.  Clearly, the AirTag can’t be trusted even in the most populated of areas!

tracking my dog using an apple airtag
Attempting to track my dog’s AirTag location in the “Find My” iPhone app.

There Are Far Better Options To ACTUALLY Keep Your Dog Safe!

1 in 3 pets go missing at some point in their lifetime.  Of those that do, less than 23% are ever reunited with their owners.  (Source: American Humane Association)

With statistics like that, it’s incredibly smart for dog owners to be prepared in case this awful scenario happens to you.   While the AirTag isn’t clearly a good solution, luckily there are other options available that are designed specifically for keeping your dog safe!

I personally use this GPS tracking collar from Fi for my Goldendoodle.  It uses GPS and the LTE-M cellular network to remotely track your dog 24/7 with incredible up-to-the-minute accuracy.

Fi GPS Smart Collar for Dogs

Use the promo code POPULARDOODLE25 to get $25 off your new Fi collar!

To prove just how powerful the Fi Collar is, I conducted a similar experiment to this one where I intentionally “lost” my dog to see how long it would take to find him.

Click here to see my full experiment and review of the Fi Collar!

Spoiler alert—my dog was found and back home in under 10 minutes!

My favorite feature of this collar is that, using the Fi app, you can set a virtual fence around the perimeter of your house.  If your dog crosses this boundary without you, you’ll be immediately alerted.  This is amazing if your dog gets loose while you’re away from the house!

Two screenshots from the Fi app. On the left I’m setting the virtual fence around my house. On the right I’m tracking my dog in “lost dog mode.”

Yes, the Fi Collar is significantly more expensive than an AirTag.  I love a good bargain, but I’d much rather pay more money for a Fi collar to KNOW my dog is safe rather than trying to pinch pennies for a small chance the AirTag actually works when my dog is in trouble.

To make the decision even easier for you, Fi was generous enough to give Popular Doodle readers a discount for a limited time…

Click here to save $25 on a new Fi Collar with the promo code POPULARDOODLE25.

If you purchase through the links on this page, I’ll get a small commission at no additional cost to you.  I only recommend products I love and truly believe in.  While there are other tracking collars out there to consider, I personally use and trust Fi with the safety of my own dog.  If you choose to invest in a Fi collar, I appreciate you supporting Popular Doodle with your purchase!