How to keep an eye on your pets using your iPhone

For many of us, our pets are part of the family. Our fur children are just as important as our human children, but they present unique challenges. Unlike your teenager, your cat or dog can’t tell you where he’s going when he leaves the yard. Fortunately, there are several convenient ways to keep track of your pet’s whereabouts using your iPhone and an accessory or two.

The pure Apple approach to tracking your pet, AirTag

The first option that comes to mind is an Apple AirTag. These trackers are cheap, you can get them engraved, and they “just work” with your other Apple devices. It’s easy to implement one of these to keep track of your stray pet, especially if you live in a more metropolitan area.


All you need is the AirTag and a way to attach it to your pet’s collar. While Apple offers several attractive options for this, including leather loops and key rings, they may not offer the protection you want. First, anything that only protects the edges of your AirTag is missing.

Apple offers several attractive cases for the AirTag, but others may offer more protection.

Let me explain. I had an AirTag on my boxer dog collar, protected by the absolutely excellent Series OtterBox Figura Case. Dakota, the dog in question, became involved in rough play with another dog who apparently thought the hanging AirTag was a chew toy.

Long story short, the intense force the other dog exerted while chewing the AirTag killed the tracking device. If I had brought it into another, more extensive case, it might have been a different story.

Still, the clear advantage of using an AirTag, especially in an urban environment, is the network used. In the city, Dakota would struggle to go more than half an hour without being within range of an iPhone, iPad or even a Mac connected to the Find My network.

Alternative trackers can still use Find My Network

Okay, let’s say you need a slightly smaller and lighter option. However, you will still use your iPhone to track your pet on your iPhone in the Find My app. Since the iPhone maker has opened up this network to third-party tracking devices, this is a good option.

One of these options that I use for my smallest dog is the Chipolo ONE Spot. This small tracking device uses the Find My network just like the AirTag. However, it offers a slightly smaller form factor, a somewhat robust case itself and a keyhole.

Like the AirTag, this is a viable option if Fido wants to go off and wander where other Apple devices can be found. On the other hand, you might want an option that works no matter how close other devices are.

Tracking devices with built-in cell to keep an eye on your pet from your iPhone

Another good option, especially if you’re worried about your fur baby straying too far from civilization, is the Jiobit Smart Tag. This is a more expensive option, but it may be worth it if your pet may fly somewhere too far from Apple devices to use Find My Network.

You see, the current Jiobit Smart Tag has built-in cellular capability. This means that as long as your pet is within range of a cell tower, you can track it. The most basic plan will cost you $14.99 per month. month without a contract, but you can drop it at $8.99 per month on a 2-year contract.

The tracking brand itself is larger than most, but not horribly so. It also comes with several ways to attach the tag to your pet’s collar, including one that takes a long time to remove.

This option does not work with Find My Network. Please note. However, the Jiobit app is robust in its own rights. You can quickly check where your pet is, set it to notify you when the pet leaves a trusted location, and even set up a Wi-Fi fence to extend battery life.

Jiobit Tracking History
Jiobit shows you 30 days of tracking history at a time on the basic plan.

If your pet goes missing, you can quickly put it in Live Mode to track it. By default, Jiobit even offers 30 days of tracking history. This means you can easily keep an eye on your iPhone when and where your pet has disappeared for hours.

Choose the right path for you

Each of these options has advantages and disadvantages. I much preferred AirTag tracking for the Dakota since we lived in a more urban area. I didn’t have to recharge it every two weeks and it worked right in my Find My app.

When I moved to a less populated area, I upgraded to the built-in cellular option. That way, if Dakota wanders down the street and no one is home with an iPhone to relay her location, I can still track her.

On the other hand, the smallest tracker on the Find My network is perfect for my chihuahua, who rarely has the courage to leave the yard.

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