The unbranded Smart Dog system is a bare bones offering, priced at around the $50 mark and creeping into independent discount stores. It is one to avoid.
The Smart Dog HT-023 bears more than a passing resemblance to the Innotek SD-2000 Smart Dog. One would imagine if you were going to produce a knock-off, you would at least knock off something a little better. We understand trying to produce a cheap version of say a Rolex, but why would you want to make a knock of a base model Timex? The Timex is cheap enough, why would customers take the risk of buying the knock off.
Like the SD-2000, this system has a single correction level that is proportional. This limits the usefulness of the system since you really want multiple correction levels to be able to adjust the collar in response to the dog's reaction.
Even more limiting is the inconsistency of the unit. The demo unit we purchased was highly variable in when and if it warned and corrected when approaching the boundary line. Using a second collar, we got better results although still the occasional inconsistency suggesting the problem is in the collars not the base station.
The collar is powered by a 6V battery disposable battery. Life on the collar was above average at about 4 months. The unit comes with 1,000 feet of boundary wire which seems great until you realize that it is so thin that it can be snapped with a medium strength tug With the 1,000 feet of wire are only 20 flags.
Summary: Complete junk at an extraordinary price. If the factory was going to imitate a product they should have chosen something better to imitate and done a better job of it.
We first came across the Smart-Dog system in early 2009 when we were looking to create our own brand of dog fence. This no name brand made by an anonymous factory in China was spotted in a trade show by a buddy. An incredibly cheap system with all the basics for less than $30 wholesale, including 1,000 feet of wire. Wow. 1,000 feet of wire on it’s own with no system costs us $30.
We had a demo unit sent to Dallas and were pretty keen to see it in action. Not only would they sell us units for $30, but they would brand it for us with custom packaging even for a pretty small order quantity like 5,000. From the photos the system looked like a very close knock-off of the Innotek SD-2000. We figured the Innotek and PetSafe low end systems were dead meat.
Our first clue that something was off was the shipping bill, the box was much lighter and cheaper than we expected for something with 1,000 feet of wire.
The units are amazing and disappointing at the same time. It is as advertised, a basic dog fence that works. I am amazed that they can make one of these systems and sell it to use for $30. This is only a second generation unit and it was close to working. There is a third generation unit in the wings, although it is not yet available, it looks even better with adjustable correction levels and progressive correction – features you would expect on a $200 system.
But, the problem is it just did not work consistently enough to put on your dog. The wire does technically contain 1,000 feet, but it is 28 gauge wire that is so thin it could be mistaken for a roll of yarn. When we tried using it with a trencher it snapped immediately and was completely unusable. Try putting this in the ground and you will get so many breaks that you might as well be trying to work with fuse wire. There are technically boundary flags, but only 20 of them, so you cannot mark an area much bigger than a garage.
There are minimal instructions, no training dvd, no warranty, no support.
The box is comical, done by someone that clearly has no clue. It pictures a scene of the Austrian alps, with two Labrador Retrievers pasted on and with shadows drawn in that have curiously freed themselves of the constraint of matching the body of the dog to which they belong. clearly do not match the bodies.
Give the developers a couple more generations and they will catch up, but it just doesn’t work yet. Not even close yet.
One Correction Level The collar on the smartdog has one correction level but are progressive so the correction level increases when the dog gets closer to the boundary. The collar fills a touch flimsier than most, like it is made of a thinner more brittle plastic. The collar looks water resistant but not waterproof.
The battery takes a standard 6V battery that can be replaced by removing a slider on the back of the collar. When using the collar, it behaved inconsistently, not always registering the signal at the same distance from the boundary wire.
Strangely the collar strap is very short. The strap will fit dogs under 60lbs, but could be tight for anything bigger.
The HT-023 control box is a basic design with three status lights and a boundary width knob. The three lights tell you when the system is plugged in, when the collar is function properly, and when there is a wire break respectively. Like the collar, something about the control box plastic feels very then and brittle although there is not reason for the control box to be made very well, for most people it will be hidden away and not exposed to any stresses.
The system comes standard with:
- 1,000 feet of boundary wire (28 gauge - very thin), enough for about one full acre
- 20 boundary flags – there are ridiculously few flags included with the system.
- 2 wire splice - used to join sections of the boundary wire
Considering all the typos on the outer packaging, the included instructions are well written although short and basic.
No warranty is mentioned and we think that it is a safe assumption that you get no warranty with the system. But, given the price - purchasing a new system is not particularly onerous.