If you’ve got dogs that love to play outside but don’t want the hassle and expense that comes with fencing in your entire backyard, you might have considered setting up an invisible fence. But if even that sounds like too much trouble, you’ll be glad to know there are high-tech dog collars that let you set up a barrier around your yard — or any outdoor space — using satellite mapping and GPS.
A quick search online will show you smart dog collars that range anywhere from $300 to $1,000, with varying features and levels of sophistication. At the high end of that range is the Halo 2+, which comes from a brand co-founded by Cesar Millan, the famous “dog whisperer” who has made training unruly canines look easy on TV for about two decades.
The Halo 2+ lists for $999 online but is marked down through Jan. 8 to $624 with the promo code NEW YEAR. Even with the markdown, that’s obviously still a major investment but reviews listed on the company’s website from hundreds of users are almost universally glowing, for what that’s worth. Halo offered me the chance to test its smart collar for a couple of months myself to see if it could possibly be worth the price.
The first thing that struck me when my Halo 2+ came in the mail was the packaging and overall construction of everything in the box. Opening the box really felt like an event, with every piece gorgeously displayed. The components — which include the collar, a beacon, a USB-C cable, wall outlet and two sets of contact tips — all inspired a sense of wonder as I dug in.
It reminded me of the ceremony that comes with opening any of the pricey gadgets I’ve bought from Apple over the years, which I always appreciate. When you spend that kind of money on something, the initial discovery phase should be thrilling.
Once everything was unwrapped, I was eager to get started and was relieved to find that the Halo 2+ makes it easy out of the box. Once you’ve downloaded the Halo app, and made sure your collar is charged up, you can link them together and start playing around. The instructions recommend you watch a few videos in the app’s “Training” section before setting up a fence.
The app’s mapping interface uses satellite imaging to let you “draw” an invisible fence using dots and lines that you plot onto the map. You’ll see an overhead view of your house — or wherever you happen to be — that will remind you of Google Maps. It lets you zoom in or out to control the accuracy of your plotting. The map will also show you exactly where your dog is at any given time, which I imagine would be a great feature for anyone with a massive outdoor space at home.
After you’ve set up a fence, you can control how your dog’s fancy new collar reacts when it gets near the boundaries, ranging from beeps of varying volumes, which emanate from the built-in speaker, to static zaps (which the company says feel like shoulder taps to the dog) of differing intensities. The Halo 2+ can also give positive feedback to the pup when they heed a warning and move away from the boundary; Millan himself praises them through the speaker.
You can also issue these feedback measures manually using the app, in case you want to use the collar to train your dog from behaving in certain ways inside the house. The aforementioned beacon — which is a white device that’s about the size of a half dollar — is also useful for indoor training, as it acts as a dedicated wireless boundary that reacts with the collar when activated in the app. For instance, if your dog has a bad habit of jumping on a certain piece of furniture, you can put a beacon on it and this will essentially fence it off.
Overall, I’ve been impressed with the Halo 2+, even if it took some real trust to let it do its job. My biggest complaint about it is that the Halo’s battery lasts less than a day right out of the box, requiring you to charge it every night — or else you won’t be able to use it the next day. There is also a monthly subscription required to keep your fences stored, which starts at $4.49 per month. If you want to spring for more features, there are higher subscription tiers ($9.99 and $29.99 per month, respectively) that offer customized features, including instant feedback and personalized training support at the highest level.
The basic tier is pretty cheap, but do any of us really need another monthly bill in our lives? I leave that up to you.