Do you really need a smart collar for your dog?

 

When you get a dog as a pet, one of the first things you end up buying is a collar. It’s typically a simple, straightforward purchase: figure out the color, make sure you have the right size, and once you clip it on, you’re ready for your first walk.

Fi is a new company that’s looking to inject a bit of technology into what was previously a bit of plastic or metal attached to a strap. Its dog collars are designed and marketed as fitness trackers for your animal, and as a basic safety net to help in the event that they run off or otherwise get lost. I’ve been testing one of Fi’s collars for the last month and a half with my nine-year-old lab mix Tiki. But in that time, I can’t entirely figure out if it’s really a device that I need in my life, and Fi’s approach to smart dog collars doesn’t make it easy.

Let’s get the basics out of the way. Fi manufactures a selection of dog collars, which can do a couple of things. The design is a basic collar with three connection points: the clasp, as well as the two points that connect to the actual device itself. The collar runs at $150, and you need to pay another $99 a year to take advantage of all the tracking and features that come with it. That’s a steep premium over the $10-$15 you might spend on a traditional collar.