Help me track my dog

So I have a dog which takes absolutely every chance it can get to run out into the street. Smallish miniature schnauzer, I love her to bits but it causes some issues with the neighbours (always the same one who discovers her and brings her back). And well, yeah, she might get into some real trouble.

So I’m looking for some ideas on figuring out if she’s outside my yard or not.

I live in a stand-alone house on a 1,200mˆ2 yard surrounded by walls and a palisade with two sliding gates, so there’s two places where she can escape. I have a camera mounted at the one gate which I can probably tweak my object recognition to pick up if she runs out, but still need a solution for the other place. Or something altogether.

Not super keen on a GPS unit that I have to charge, unless it is the only realistic solution. But I’m leaning towards a Bluetooth Low Energy tag on her collar and some way to track and estimate if it is inside my yard or not. Of course, she has free rein in the yard, so it will be interesting figuring out if she is inside but at the back of the place, or outside near the front.

Any suggestions? I have two Raspberry Pi’s available…

Another view, add a collar on her, that if she moves Xmeters from the fence, it gives her a good buzz, just like escaping prisoners. :rofl:

Sorry, that’s what popped to mind when I read about your plight.

Ps. Our neighbors had a similar issue. Their dog always got out, everyone knew it in the area, but her owners as she was always back in her yard when they returned from work.

hehe, yeah, it wouldn’t be the first time she has a shock collar (previously in a complex where she used to stand at the gate barking at the common area - once again a neighbour complained).

Eventually got the collar off and chew through the electronics :roll_eyes:

My wife actually asked “can’t you figure out something - like a tag or something to know if she’s outside??” - I took that as my opportunity to automate something

Don’t get me started. They lady living in the house behind me terrorises the entire street. She calls Law Enforcement on the people three houses down… to the extent that it’s going to turn into a legal matter soon. Last December they put their dogs into a nearby kennel even while they were home, because guests were visiting and the dogs tend to bark a little more than usual. Completely ridiculous.

Although I head this story of someone I knew as a kid. Apparently he called the neighbour at 2AM, and when he answered, he said: It’s not my dog.

UFID may be an option for you. Add one on the collar and integrate with HA, etc

Sonoff may even make them but I haven’t dug very deep.

I also thought of RFID tags. The issue is that the passive ones needs to be quite close to the reader to be read, and the active ones (with their own power supply) are expensive, heavy, and quite often still need an activation loop installed at the points of ingress/egress.

@ebendl don’t you want extra 3 of them maybe, I will come deliver them for free, well the youngest one? My wife owns 3 schauzers, and she want a 4th one, I told her she can forget about it. Schauzer is a league on there own I tell you. They can be stubborn and noise. The youngest one that is turning 3 now got energy levels out of this world, there is now end to it and naughty!!! other two is 7 and 5 and they chilled.

How about looking into a small form factor Bluetooth GPS option?

Something like Garmin GPS

I have an older Garmin GPS model that uses a cellphone sized lithium battery and these units are very small and light. Easy to recharge and can log the dog’s position.
Once the bluetooth link is broken, you know that either the battery died, or the dog escaped again.

Another alternative would be to use a low power Bluetooth board, like the HM-10 (

See example of use at How to

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Haha, I couldn’t quite immediately figure out if you were talking about “RFID tags” (as per Plonkster’s previous post) or what, but soon realised :slight_smile:

Tbh, between 2 cats, 2 dogs (one scottie and one the schnauzer) and 2 ex-hamsters and 2 ex-fish, the Schnauzer is pretty much my favourite, even with all her flaws. :slight_smile: There’s nobody else that greets me as enthusiastically when I get home :slight_smile:

(But no thanks, as you can see I have enough animals on my property, and that’s not even counting the 3 boys)

Thanks for all the replies.

I really wanted to go BLE tags, but the more I think about it the more I’m just not sure they would work to figure out if she’s outside, unless she strays really far away and I’m able to cover my whole yard with BLE hubs.

Here’s a rough idea of what I’m working with:

  • Both driveways have a sliding gate where she typically escape
  • Black line is a palisade fence
  • Brown are walls
  • Image is old (I have since installed PV, of course)

So I have no idea how and where I’d install BLE hubs to figure out if she is inside or outside the fence and compensate for all the walls in between. Problem is that she doesn’t usually stray that far (e.g. she might just be visiting the neighbour across the street, who is also the one who typically finds her and brings her back).

Now considering pet trackers that run on Sigfox (e.g. Invoxia Pet Tracker - Activity monitoring and GPS area tracking for pets)

I think your cheapest option will be a 20m chain tied to a sturdy point somewhere in the yard. :smiley:

Quite a few years ago I read of a radio amateur who placed a tiny RF transmitter on his cat’s collar and tracked the cat with APRS, but this was simply to see how far the cat wonders off from home at night.
APRS is basically a GPS system over amateur radio frequencies.

Not wanting to take away from your fun project and experimenting and I’m no expert, but usually a dog runs off because it is bored, do you ever walk the dog or play with it to get rid of its energy?

If you’re thinking real GPS, I was looking at these two a couple of years ago, but didn’t buy anything in the end. (Seems fi is US-only now.)


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I looked at these pet activity monitors a while ago. Most of them have monthly subscription plans, though you get some without any subscriptions.

You get some which works world wide even some of the GPS functions, but I haven’t come across one which has live tracking and boundary alerts which works world wide, all those advanced GPS functionality only seams to work in the US.

How about this on an old phone plugged in near the gates (front wall)?

Just accept that a gps based system will do what you need and put up with charging the dogs collars as required.

Another alternative would be a GSM based solution, like this small 27g Arduino based board that has GPS, Lipo charger and micro simcard on board.


  • Microcontroller: ATSAMD21G18, 32-Bit ARM Cortex M0+
  • Micro SIM connector
  • GPS/GPRS/GSM/Bluetooth integrated solution
  • Integrated Power Control System
  • AT command interface with “auto baud” detection Quad-band: 850/900/1800/1900Mz
  • 22 Send and receive GPRS data (TCP/IP, HTTP, etc.)
  • Size: 40 x 55mm
  • Net Weight: 27g

This was my original thought - Bluetooth Low Energy tags combined with ESP32’s or Raspberry Pi’s (as opposed to the old phone idea), but I’m not 100% sure if it will work. There’s two methods as I roughly see it:

  • check if the tag is within range at all, and if not, assume the dog is outside. Problem: what if she’s just at the back of the garden? Or my walls block the signal to some spots in the garden? In other words, out of range but still actually in the garden.
  • do fancier stuff like 3 receivers and try and triangulate her exact position using the signal strength. But then the issue with walls popup again.

I’ve been trying to figure out if I can come up with an algorithm with multiple receivers to basically try and figure out if I can figure out if she’s inside or not but not sure yet.

Obviously every driveway has an electrical point (due to the gate motors there) so I can put receivers there.