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The Secret Feature That Finally Makes AirTags Good for Tracking Pets

After years of frustration, you can finally share an AirTag's location with family members. Thank goodness.

a dog wearing a collar with an airtag
Tucker Bowe

I take my dog to the dog park almost every week. And when I'm there, I see a lot of dogs with AirTags. And it makes sense. The little trackers are affordable, can easily be attached to a dog's collar, and work really well with iPhone (which most people have).

But Apple does not recommend AirTags for tracking your pets — or any living creature (especially people) for that matter. Instead, it insists that AirTags are meant simply to track your belongings like your bag, bike, wallet or keys.

Of course, you can still use an AirTag to track your pet, and Apple recently rolled out a feature, AirTag sharing, that makes AirTags even better for pet tracking. Here's what you need to know.

Why AirTags are good pet trackers

airtag pet tracker
Thanks to iOS 17, you can share the location of your pet with up to six people.
Tucker Bowe

1. You can finally share your pet's location with family and friends

For years, you couldn't share an AirTag's location with anybody else. So if you had a family dog, only one person in the family was able to track it on their Find My app, which was frustrating. Thankfully, that's changed.

With iOS 17, Apple has finally rolled out the ability to share an AirTag with anybody — whether they're part of your family or not. So if your dog goes missing, anybody that you've shared your AirTag with can help aid the search.

You can share your AirTag's location with up to six people. Here's how:

  1. Open the Find My app.
  2. Select the Items tab.
  3. Select the AirTag you want to share.
  4. Under the "Share This AirTag" option, select Add Person.

    Once selected, these people will get notified that an AirTag has been shared with them. They will then be able to locate the shared AirTag via the Find My app on their iPhone.

    If you want to stop sharing your pet's location, you can follow the above steps, select the name of the person and then selecting "Stop Sharing."

    2. You likely live around other people with iPhones

    AirTags need to be around iPhones (and other Apple devices) to work. Every time an AirTag gets within Bluetooth range of another Apple device that supports Find My — which are iPhones, Apple Watches, all AirPods and Macs — the two passively communicate via a secure Bluetooth signal. Then the AirTag's location gets updated.

    This means for the most accurate reading of your AirTag's location, it needs be in areas where there are a lot of Apple devices in close proximity. Basically, you need to be around other people.

    If you live in an urban or suburban area, chances are a lot of people around you have iPhones — it's the most popular smartphone in the world, after all. That means that an AirTag is going to work well for locating your pet. If your dog (or cat) gets loose, every time it comes near somebody with an iPhone, it's location will be updated, and that should be quite often.

    3. They're cheap, easy ... and pretty durable

    An AirTag is the most affordable device that Apple sells. You can buy one from Apple for $29, but they're frequently on sale for even less from third-party sellers like Amazon. They are also really easy to set up and really easy to check in on — you just have to get familiar with the Find My app.

    Also, AirTags are surprisingly rugged little devices. Each has an IP67 rating, meaning it can be submerged in one meter of water for up to 30 minutes. Basically, if your dog runs out in the rain or rolls around in the mud, it's not going to damage the AirTag.

    Why AirTags aren't good pet trackers

    airtag pet tracker
    There are few dog collars, like this one by CollarTrek, that are specifically designed to hold an AirTag.
    Tucker Bowe

    1. They're not as effective in rural areas

    Because AirTags depend on other iPhones (and other Apple devices) to work, they're not going to be nearly as reliable in sparsely populated areas. If you're in a rural area where there aren't a lot of people and your dog runs off, its AirTag isn't going to get updated as often and it'll be significantly more difficult to pinpoint its location.

    When you open the Find My app, it'll show your dog's last location before it went out of range. When your dog next gets within range of another iPhone or Apple device, it could be located in a different and far-off place.

    For those in rural areas, you might want to consider buying a GPS pet tracker like the Cube GPS, Link GPS or Tractive GPS. They're more expensive, but they use GPS and cellular to track your pet.

    2. You don't want your dog to eat an AirTag

    If you do decide to use an AirTag to track your pet, make sure the animal can't reach it. There are countless stories of dogs consuming AirTags — just check out this Wall Street Journal article — and it can be a bit of a nightmare getting it out if it doesn't pass. It also can be expensive. Not only that, but if the CR2032 battery inside the AirTag is damaged, it can be poisonous. So you want to get the AirTag out of your pet as soon as possible.

    It's been a few years since Apple first introduced AirTags, but there are still very few pet accessories that rest flush on your dog's collar. Most AirTag accessories are keychains, which hang low and a determined dog can likely get to. So before buying an accessory, make sure it fits on your dog's collar and your dog can't chew it.

    3. You have to remember to change the battery

    Honestly, battery life isn't that big of a concern when it comes to AirTags. Each runs on a CR2032 battery — which is pretty cheap — and, in my experience, it'll last a little over a year. Of course, you're going to want to change the battery because if you don't, the AirTag won't be able to track your pet.

    To check the battery life of your AirTag, simply open the Find My app on your iPhone, open the Items tab and find the AirTag. If the battery is low, it'll tell you. If it's not low, nothing will appear (which, to be honest, is a little frustrating). So your best bet is to check it regularly.


    Apple AirTag (1-Pack)

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