Is your dog an escape artist? Try Fi’s smart dog collar

dog whiskey wearing the Fi dog collar on his walk

Is your Fido fleeing the backyard and you’re spending hours searching the neighborhood? If so, Fi’s GPS smart dog collar could be your answer!

The Fi dog collar features a combination of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, LTE-M cellular networks, and GPS to track your dog’s location. With Fi’s Lost Mode, you get real-time updates and notifications on their location and can even flash the collar’s built-in LED light to make your dog more visible at night. And with its long battery life, you’ll have extra time (up to two days) to locate your dog.

Overall impression of the Fi dog collar

With awesome battery life, the Fi smart dog collar is easy to set up and solidly tracks your dog’s location and activity.

Pros of Fi’s smart dog collar

  • Awesome battery life, lasting weeks to months between charges
  • With GPS plan and app notifications or SMS alerts, helps find a lost dog quickly
  • Sturdy collar design that isn’t bulky or heavy and looks like any dog collar
  • Works with multiple owners and even dogwalkers
  • Can set up multiple safe zones, even when traveling
  • Waterproof and chew-proof 
  • A risk-free trial period of 14 days from date of delivery with a full refund if returned within that window
  • One year limited warranty on the product

Cons of Fi’s smart dog collar

  • Must purchase the GPS subscription plan to access Lost Dog mode and subscriptions are yearly, not monthly
  • AT&T must serve your area for the cellular/GPS to work
  • GPS plan available only in the United States (at this time)
  • For households with multiple dogs, each dog requires a separate GPS subscription 
  • Safe zones are circular (unlike most home lot sizes) and a minimum of 60 feet radius
  • No direct phone support and no 24/7 support
  • No “official” way to attach the Fi module to your dog’s existing collar or harness

Related reading

Meet our canine escape artist Whiskey!

Fi smart dog collar tester Whiskey english mastiff pup
Whiskey always asks us to “please let me go visit all my friends in the neighborhood who give me treats!”

We tested the Fi smart dog collar on our very friendly 2-year old English Mastiff “Whiskey” who likes to zoom out the front door or our backyard’s side gates anytime they open!

We do our best to keep him from escaping, but he really likes to visit all our neighbors (especially those that give him treats) and sometimes he just gets out. Even though Whiskey is microchipped, we’d rather quickly locate him ourselves than wait for someone else to find him and scan his chip.

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So we decided to give the Fi smart dog collar a thorough test drive. Here’s our (and Whiskey’s) review.

Why the Fi collar?

We choose Fi’s smart collar due to the following features:

  • 24/7 location tracking with optional GPS plan–keep track of the dog’s location anytime, from anywhere and get a notification if the dog leaves its designated safe zone
  • Safe zone set-up to cover your property’s boundary
  • Long battery life–no need to charge the collar every few days
  • A normal looking collar that’s chew-proof and durable–not bulky, looks like any other dog collar and can withstand that hard knocks of a dog’s life
  • A smartphone app that works with both Android and iOS (Apple) and is easy to use
  • Multi-user access including family members and dog walkers
  • Activity and exercise tracking
  • Waterproof
  • Fairly easy to set up and use

How much does the Fi dog collar cost?

Currently, the Fi collar costs $149 USD with offerings from small (11.5″–13.5″ neck width) all the way to XL (22″–34.5″ neck width.) Fi offers a 2 week trial period to return it if it doesn’t fit your dog, needs, or lifestyle.

If the total cost doesn’t fit your budget, there’s also an option to pay monthly via PayPal credit at $25/month until fully paid.

For location tracking when the dog goes missing, you also need to purchase Fi’s cellular GPS plan (more on that later.)

The Fi smart dog collar looks just like any dog collar!

Fi collar on Whiskey--looking just like his normal collar
We love that Whiskey’s collar looks like any other dog collar!

One thing we love is that the XL truly fits those extra-large and giant breeds, including our English Mastiff.

And since it’s designed like a normal collar and made from flexible woven Tetoron polyester, it was easy to switch Whiskey’s old collar to the Fi collar without him really noticing any difference.

Plus, the collar’s hardware (quick-release buckle and D-ring leash loop) is made from metal and seems quite durable–despite this, the collar isn’t much heavier than Whiskey’s previous (non-smart) collar.

What’s included with your Fi kit?

Fi dog collar package contents including base station and collar
A Fi smart god collar kit includes the collar, Fi’s base station, plus all charging needs!

When you purchase your Fi dog collar, your package includes:

  • The dog collar itself with the Fi tracker built-in
  • The Fi base and charging station with cable and charger block
  • 30-days of Fi’s GPS plan for free
  • 1-year warranty

To continue GPS coverage after that 30 days, you need to purchase a subscription–offered at 1 year, 2-year, or 3-year intervals.

  • 1 Year Plan: $99
  • 2 Year Plan: $186
  • 3 Year Plan: $248

Why opt for Fi’s GPS plan?

If your main concern is finding a missing dog, you’re going to want to subscribe to the GPS plan. The GPS plan is what allows you to establish safe zones and access Lost Dog Mode.

It’s this GPS plan that allows you to track and locate your dog using the collar’s connection to GPS and LTE-M cellular networks (currently provided by AT&T.)

So before you purchase a Fi collar, make sure AT&T has service available in your area. Since we live in a city, coverage was not an issue for us–but for folks that live in more remote areas or if you plan to take your dog into a remote area, it’s important to check coverage before you purchase the Fi collar or venture out.

Please note that with this GPS subscription, your dog’s Fi collar acts as a unique cellular device and functions independently from your phone. Your smartphone does not need to have AT&T as its carrier for your Fi dog collar to work!

The GPS plan additionally offers other perks like daily, weekly & monthly activity histories.

What if my area doesn’t support the GPS plan or I can’t afford it?

If you do not subscribe to Fi’s GPS plan, you can take your phone with you on your dog walks and Fi’s collar will connect to your phone via Bluetooth to determine its location.

So even without the GPS plan, as long as you have your phone with you AND you have the Fi app installed and working in the background, you still get to see your dog’s activity, the number of steps your dog walked, and even see the map of your walk inside the Fi app.

The one big feature you do not get without Fi’s GPS plan is Lost Dog Mode.

So if you’re worried about your dog running off, purchase the GPS subscription, if available in your area.

Setting up the Fi smart dog collar

Setting up the Fi dog collar was pretty easy!

Install and set up the Fi app & base station

First, download the Fi app–it’s available for iOS devices (like iPhone) and Android devices (like Samsung and Google phones.) Unfortunately, there is no app for your computer or a web-portal, so you do need a mobile device (iOS/Android) to use the Fi dog collar.

After installing the app and giving the app permission to use Bluetooth and allow location access (both are important for tracking the dog inside your home,) we created our account and established Whiskey’s profile with information such as name, breed, age, weight, and so forth. You can also invite others, like family members or even dog walkers to access your dog’s collar. Invite others to share your dogs location with the Fi dog collar app

  • When setting up your Fi account, enter the same email you used to purchase the collar
  • If you received the collar as a gift or want to use a different email address, select NO when asked if you already purchased your collar

A critical step is setting up your Fi base station and connecting it to your home’s WiFi network to establish your home’s location and your designated safe zone(s)

  • It’s the Fi base that really extends the Fi collar’s battery life. By connecting your base to WiFi, the collar uses a lot less energy while still updating your dog’s location regularly
  • Fi recommends you place the base station in a location that has WiFi access and where your dog spends most of the day
  • The Fi base connects to 2.4GHz networks only, not 5 GHz networks
  • Safe zones are circular and must be a minimum of size of 60 feet–make sure you cover your home and any backyard or property your dog can freely roam in safe zone perimeter and base location for Fi smart dog collar

We set-up a safe zone for our home and backyard. A Safe Zone is an area where your dog safely roams (like a backyard) and where you do not need to be alerted.

The downside of Fi’s safe zones is that its geofencing is circular and not the size of our home’s lot! Indeed, our safe zone covers most of our neighbor’s homes to both sides. We wish that instead of a circular zone, we could manually draw the safe zone around our home’s lot.

Finding your base station’s sweet spot

We live in a hundred+ year old home with plaster walls, so finding the perfect spot for our Fi base station was a challenge!

It took some testing and experimentation to find the best place for our base station–with a little patience and some help from Fi’s Help site, we found a sweet spot!

Charge the Fi Collar

Once you activate the collar and base station, it’s time to charge the collar.

All you need to do is attach the collar’s Fi device to the base, aligning the contacts. If done right, you see a flashing blue light indicating it’s charging.

Fully charged Fi smart dog collar on its Fi base station
Charging your Fi collar normally takes about 2-3 hours on its base station

Once that blue light stops flashing (normally between 2-3 hours), the collar is fully charged and ready to go!

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Whiskey’s first walk with Fi

Once the collar fully charged, we placed it around Whiskey’s neck just like any other collar and he was ready to head out the door for his first Fi walk where we could track his location (using GPS) and his step activity with the Fi app.Walking Whiskey with the Fi dog collar

When Whiskey left the house with his Fi collar, our phones notified us that “Whiskey just left home.” Owners can then open the app and check where Whiskey is to keep track of his walk’s progress and location. Fi app notification that dog left home

Fi’s app location information updates regularly, usually every 5 minutes or so.

If you believe your dog has escaped, open the Fi app and turn on Lost Mode to have location information update every minute, so you can find your dog quickly!

When we finished Whiskey’s walk, the Fi app also notified us that “Whiskey is now at Home.”  Following the walk, we also get a notification or can check the Fi app for how many steps Whiskey took on his walk. Fi app dog step count

Walking Whiskey with the Fi collar is just like any other walk. If you have the GPS plan, you don’t even need to have your phone with you to track your location and progress. If you opt to not get the GPS plan, you must take along your phone (with the Fi app installed) to capture any data from your walk.

About the Fi’s battery performance

Whiskey normally wears his collar 24/7, and we wanted to stay with that. We didn’t want a collar that required daily or even weekly charging. So having a long battery life was critical! Fi collar on whiskey while resting at home

Fi advertises that the collar can last up to 3 months between charges–that sounded promising. It’s important to note that this advertised 3 months assumes typical use for a dog that is at home or in its safe zone most of the time.

The Fi collar operates using 3 different modes–from minimal battery consumption (connected to WiFi or your phone’s Fi app) to high battery consumption (Lost mode)

  1. Minimal battery use when the dog is at home, in a safe zone, or with an owner and collar primarily connects to the Fi base or the Fi app
  2. Moderate battery consumption when the collar connects to GPS / LTE-M network and is away from Fi Base and devices with the Fi app
  3. High battery use when you initiate Lost Dog Mode from the app and your dog is away from the Fi Base and devices with the Fi app

To preserve your collar’s battery and maximize the time between charges, keep your dog within the range of the Fi base station or an owner’s mobile device that has the Fi app installed on it.

When the dog is in the range of the Fi base or devices with the Fi app installed, the collar connects using WiFi and Bluetooth–and doesn’t need to use GPS or LTE-M!

While Whiskey does enjoy his walks, outings, and occasional front door escapes, he is basically your typical lazy giant breed–spending most of his time sleeping and getting cuddles. So for us, Whiskey stays within the Fi’s minimal battery usage most of the time–so we don’t need to charge the Fi collar too often.

After a full week of use, including 2 tests of Lost Dog Mode, Whiskey’s collar was still showing a 96% charge!

battery percentage remaining on Fi Dog Collar after 1 week of use
After one week, Whiskey’s Fi collar still had 96% of its battery remaining!

Decide what features matter most for you and your dog!

For Whiskey, getting notifications if he escapes and pinpointing his location when he gets out was our most important consideration. For that reason, we opted for the GPS plan.

With the GPS plan, we can set up multiple safe zones, even when traveling. Since we travel a lot in our VW Van and bring Whiskey with us, being able to set-up temporary safe zones is critical.

If your dog frequently goes to other locations you deem as safe, like a fenced dog park or a family member’s home, you can set up those as safe zones as well.

How to set up safe zones in the Fi app

  1. Open the Fi app and choose your dog’s profile button
  2. Tap the Menu button (three lines) and choose Safe Zones
    1. For iOS: Tap the + button 
    2. For Android: Tap + Add a new safe zone
  3. Add the name and address of your Safe Zone
  4. Change the size of the safe zone by pinching two fingers to zoom in or out on the map
    • Safe Zones are circular and have a minimum radius of 60 ft
  5. Tap Save to complete

Overwhelmed by Fi’s app notifications? About all those Fi notifications

The Fi app does send you a lot of notifications by default.

It’s easy to feel a bit overwhelmed at first with all those notifications–in the span of a morning, my phone showed 17 notifications about Whiskey–many not very useful or necessary. lots of notifications coming from the Fi app

We didn’t want to be flooded by app notifications!

We really only wanted the notifications and alerts for when Whiskey left our safe zones so if he did indeed escape, we could locate him.  So we opted to turn most notifications off in Fi’s alert settings.

How to set up and change your Fi dog collar’s alert and notification settings

  1. Open the Fi app and choose your dog’s profile button
  2. Tap the Menu button and choose Collars
  3. Tap your dog’s collar
  4. Choose Alert Settings
    1. There are a lot of alert types in the Fi app!
    2. Switch on the ones you want and toggle off the ones you don’t

Fi’s step count

There’s no consensus on how many steps your dog needs daily, so the default 10,000 steps count is just an average. What we do know is that dogs, like humans, require activity to stay healthy.

So, we appreciated the collar and app counting Whiskey’s steps.

Seeing those stats in the app helped us make sure Whiskey was getting his daily walks.

Although we currently do not have a dog walker, we like that Fi tracks all Whiskey’s steps for times when we do use a dog walker, have a friend or other family member walking him, or for times when we use a pet sitter while we’re out of town.

By inviting these others to the Fi app, we can quickly see how much exercise Whiskey gets with others. And if the worse should happen and Whiskey escapes, everyone with the app can track him.

Whiskey escaped again! Testing Fi’s Lost Dog mode

It didn’t take long for us to try out Fi’s Lost Mode when a handyman accidentally left our side gate ajar and Whiskey dashed out.

Whiskey a dog without the owner in the Fi app

Luckily, within a minute of leaving our home’s safe zone, we received a notification that Whiskey had left home and was without any owner. Since neither of us was walking Whiskey, we initiated Lost Mode and it located him a few blocks away from our house.

Finding Whiskey with Fi's Lost Dog Mode on the Fi app
To enter Fi’s Lost Dog Mode, in the Fi app tap the Live tab, open the banner with the dog’s current status, and tap the red Lost button

We followed Fi’s Lost Mode map and within about 15 minutes, we found him!

Although we didn’t need it, Whiskey’s Fi collar also flashed its LED light red, which helps locate dogs at night and in low light environments.

FAQs FAQ frequently asked questions

  1. Can I attach the Fi tracker to my dog’s current collar or harness?

    • At this time, there is no official support to remove the Fi tracker from its collar and attach it to a third-party collar or harness. However, Fi does offer an assortment of collars made by both Fi and approved third-party vendors that you can use with the Fi tracking device
  2. Is the Fi smart dog collar really waterproof?

    • Yes, the Fi collar is indeed waterproof up 1.5 meters (about a depth of 5 feet.) In fact, the Fi collar is rated IP68, which means it can withstand dust, dirt, and even sand, and is resistant to submersion up to a maximum depth of 1.5m underwater for up to thirty minutes
  3. Do I need a Fi GPS Subscription to use the collar?

    • You can indeed use the Fi collar without purchasing the GPS cellular plan; however, you won’t be able to access Lost Dog mode and track your dog when your dog is on its own
  4. How wide is the collar?

    • Whiskey’s XL collar is about 1 inch wide (2.5 cm.) From what we understand, all of its collar’s are the same width to accommodate the Fi tracking device
  5. Why does the app keep asking for location access or remind me to keep the app running in the background?

    • In order to keep tabs on your dog and conserve the Fi tracker’s battery, the app needs to have location access and needs to run in the background
  6. How long does the Fi collar last before needing replacement?

    • According to Fi, their current model lasts at least five years and should support hundreds of charges during its lifetime. Each new collar comes with a one-year warranty but many users report that Fi’s customer support team helps troubleshoot Fi devices well beyond that first year
  7. How do I contact Fi support?

    • At this time, Fi does not offer direct phone support. You can reach Fi’s Help department via email at support@tryfi.com or by filling out an online support form. All requests are normally answered within 12 business hours. Support is available weekdays only (Monday – Friday) from 10 am – 8 pm EST
  8. I’m going camping in a remote area, will the Fi collar’s GPS work?

    • Since the Fi collar depends on connecting to either your own phone or AT&T’s LTE-M network, it’s best to check coverage before you venture out. Another option is to test Fi’s connectivity using the Fi app once you arrive at your campsite before you go for a hike or other adventure with your dog
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Wrap up: Fi’s smart dog collar keeps you in the know

Our main objective was keeping tabs on Whiskey and making sure that we could find him, should he escape our home (safe zone), and go missing. And for that reason alone, we found the Fi smart dog collar and the app quite useful!

We love that Fi alerts us whenever Whiskey leaves home. Plus, we can check inside the Fi app anytime and get updated location information.

To our surprise, we also really enjoyed getting daily information about Whiskey’s steps and activity levels. Seeing a quick snapshot of his steps helps us make more informed decisions about when to walk him, where to walk him, and for how long.

So, if you have your own canine escape artist or want to make sure you dog is getting enough exercise why not give the Fi smart dog collar a try? Get your Fi now.

And there’s more

The Fi app also includes tabs for connecting with the larger Fi community via Fi Discover as well as things like seeing how your dog ranks compared to all Fi dogs or your dog’s breed.

We don’t really use those features much but we did check them out. And it’s clear that a lot of dog owners love them.

Above all, knowing where Whiskey is at any time using the Fi collar and app gives us peace of mind we didn’t have before.

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