A GPS dog collar is the ultimate device for keeping tabs on your dog’s location and activity. It’s also the best way to ensure your pets’ safe return for when they get lost while on vacation or stray away from your home. Most GPS dog collars are also equipped with the ability to monitor your pet’s health and physical activity. Maximize your chances of getting your beloved pet back safe and sound with the best GPS dog collars today.
Dogs are intelligent creatures with an excellent sense of smell, and they do leave a distinct scent from their paw pads when they walk around. Even then, it’s challenging for dogs to get back home on their own, especially in an unfamiliar location. Cats are even better than dogs in finding their own way home, using magnetic geolocation to their olfactory senses to find their way. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean you should leave their safety to chance.
The American Humane Association estimates that at least one out of three pets become lost at some point within their lifetime. A report from the Coalition for Reuniting Pets and Families also indicates that almost 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen in the US every single year. A good percentage of these pets are never returned to their owners. At the same time, those who end up in shelters have a high probability of getting euthanized after a few months of stay. These are truly alarming circumstances for these innocent and lovable creatures.
What Are GPS Dog Collars?
A dog collar is a material that is put around the neck of a dog or any pet that it would fit. Most dog collars are designed to be attached to a leash that you can hold onto while walking your pet. Every pet owner, cat or dog, probably knows what a dog collar is, and they probably have at least one in their possession. Standard dog collars have their purpose and fulfill them well, but now pet owners are given the option to add a GPS tracker.
GPS dog collars are lightweight and wearable devices for your pets. Their main purpose is to track your pet’s location and trajectory to maximize the chances of recovery if they get lost. Most trackers are also equipped with the ability to measure exercise levels, temperature, and meal schedules.
How Do GPS Dog Collars Work?
A GPS dog collar is exactly what it sounds like: a dog collar with GPs technology. Global positioning system (GPS) trackers are portable devices that allow you to monitor your pet’s exact location within a given area. GPS trackers rely on a network of satellites to determine the location of a device. GPS trackers mark an object (or in this case, a beloved pet) on a map using trilateration. Trilateration or triangulation is estimating an object’s exact location based on its distance from three GPS satellites.
GPS dog collars can track your pet’s location in real-time and over time using a mapping device. Here’s the thing, though. Most GPS trackers on dog collars have a distance limitation based on cellular towers’ locations. We are talking of a radius of anywhere between five to ten miles from the nearest cellular towers.
Most pets cannot go that far within a day, so if you track them immediately, there’s a good chance for rescue. It will also help if your pet has a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip to help identify the pet and you as its owner. The identification process usually requires the help of a vet, but in case your pet gets sent to one, they will be able to contact you. Additional precautions include the standard dog tag or ID around its collar.
Why Should You Get a GPS Dog Collar?
GPS trackers have a vital and potentially life-saving function. This is due to the GPS trackers’ ability to broadcast your pet’s location in real-time and over a matter of hours or days. So you can immediately find your pet dog or cat should they ever go missing. A GPS can map out the route your pet takes, and this will appear as elaborate squiggles on a map depending on how much time we’re talking about. Most GPS dog collars have a battery life that can last for days, which is extremely important as you can only track your pet when the device is active.
Most GPS dog collars nowadays are also equipped with additional features that monitor your pet’s health, activity, and environment. Some GPS trackers have an activity monitor that tracks the activities that your pet gets into during the day, how much time they spent resting, and other vital pieces of information. Other dog collars allow you to set activity goals based on your pet’s profile. More advanced models also have remote sound activation, temperature alerts, and LED lights.
Other Benefits of a GPS Dog Collar
Most GPS providers also collect information on our pets through these devices. The data they collect is bound to generate some exciting details on aspects of our pets’ behaviors and how they interact with other people. Trackers would also allow us to take a peek into their daily activities and where they go during the day.
Collated knowledge of animal behavior may have contributed to the creation of robot dogs modeled after real dogs. These robots use artificial intelligence and mimic the behavior or real dogs. Perhaps the most famous example would be Spot, the yellow robot dog created by Boston Dynamics. What may be a social experiment concerning your cat or dog may have larger implications in technology.
Best GPS Dog Collars to Keep Track of Your Dog’s Location
GPS dog collars come in various shapes and sizes, but they all have the same ability to track your pup wherever it may go. But first, make sure you learn how to set up a VPN, and ensure that your online activities are obscured from third parties. Take a pick from some of the best GPS dog collars available for your beloved pet cat or dog:
Whistle Go is one of the best devices to be produced by Whistle. This company specialized in making GPS tracking devices for pets. The lightweight and handy device securely attaches to the dog collar. The device connects to the internet and locates your pet using 3G technology instead of Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Whatever information it intercepts is forwarded to your smartphone via 3G cellular or the AT&T network.
The tracking device doesn’t have a screen, so almost everything happens through the Whistle app. The app lets you mark a safe zone around your home and enables you to see where exactly your pet is on a map. Once the safe zone has been identified, the tracking device checks for your pet within the safe zone every 12 minutes.
The device remains on Bluetooth mode within the safe zone, then switches to 3G if your pet leaves the zone. Of course, you can expect an alert when this happens, and the device will start tracking for your pet. Location tracking is exact, and usually within 10 to fifteen feet of how it appears to be on the map.
Aside from tracking capabilities, the device also monitors your pet’s health status, amount of exercise, medication, etc. You can also use proactive alerts for vet appointments, meal times, and more through the app.
The Whistle Go tracking device retails for a mid-range price of $129.95. Plus, you will have to select a subscription that costs an average of $9.95 per month to cover the costs of GPS and cellular networks.
Huan Smart Tag
The Huan smart tag is a small, lightweight GPS tag attached to the pet collar. The device relies on Bluetooth to collect and transmit information to your phone. That means that it locates pets differently than other tags. If you report your pet missing in the app, the software will notify everyone on your network. You can expect to receive a notification if your missing pet gets within a 300-foot radius of another Huan user or sensor. Huan is still developing the sensor network, but even now you will receive notifications about missing pets through the in-app map.
The device also features a Home Alone mode. This specialized mode sends an automated text message to your emergency contacts if your pet has been home alone for more than 24 hours without you. You can add as many pets to the app as you want, but they need to have a separate tag.
The Huan Smart tag is competitively priced compared to other smart trackers. You can get your own for a $30 one-time membership fee and a monthly fee of $3. The device also comes with an unlimited warranty for the tracker. That means that the company will replace the tag for free if your dog or cat accidentally breaks it.
Whistle GO Explore
The Go Explore is an improved version of the phased out Whistle 3. The device features a series of upgrades, including longer battery life and more health information. The device can set multiple safe zones for your beloved pet, which will send you a notification should your pet go beyond the allocated safe zone.
If your pet does go missing, all you have to do is tap on the Track button, and the device will start checking in with GPS every 15 seconds. The device has an impressive battery life that can last up to 30 days within the safe zone. But the battery life can be reduced by more than ten days or more if your pet is always active or escapes the safe zone. Activating the tracker mode when your pet goes missing drains the battery life much faster, so you need to act quickly.
The Go Explore is filled with plenty of useful features, which also includes health tracking. This provides you with a quick glance of your pet’s total calories burned, distance traversed, and hours that it’s resting during the day. You can also set activity goals for your pet based on its age, weight, and breed.
All of these features make the Whistle Go Explore more expensive than the standard, and it stands at the cost of $115. However, there are also monthly fees of approximately $10 per month to cover the cost of covering the costs of GPS and cellular networks. Whistle also now offers specially-designed GPS dog collars to fit the tag for an affordable price of $29.95.
Fi Smart Collar
Unlike other devices on this list that you need to attach to a collar, the Fi Smart Collar is an actual collar with a built-in GPS tracker. The Fi uses both GPS tracking and Bluetooth to keep tabs on your pet’s location on an alternating basis. Bluetooth is for times you’re your pet is within the safe zone, and GPS is for when it gets out. You can set up the base station, connect it to your Wi-Fi, and then specify the safe zone’s coverage around the base. The app will notify you within minutes of your pet exiting the safe zone. The company even put up a helpline that you can call on for when your pet goes missing.
Another notable feature of the device is its excellent battery life. The battery life can go as far as one month in between charges. Having a longer battery life is very important, as it means you will need to charge the device less frequently and you’ll have a longer window to find your pet if it gets lost. The tracker itself is a reliable, waterproof device about the size of a matchbox that is securely strapped to the collar. The device also comes with a charger block, a mini USB cable, and a charging base station.
The device itself will cost you a one-time fee of $149. And like most GPS dog collars, this comes with subscription fees amounting to $99 per year to cover the costs of GPS and cellular networks.
DOTT Smart Dog Tag
The DOTT Smart Dog Tag is a very lightweight keychain with GPS tracking abilities. The device attaches to your dog’s collar via a circular ringlet on top. The device pairs with the DOTT mobile app and tracks your dog’s location via GPS. The app will notify you when your pet leaves the safe zone. It will also send a signal across a distance of almost 85 football fields to tap into the GPS network to triangulate your pet’s location. Suppose your pet gets within the radius of another DOTT device. In that case, the software will immediately update the map and send you a message.
Aside from having the ability to track your pet via GPS, the device also comes with health and fitness monitoring abilities. It will keep track of the distance that your dog walks, medication, food, and so on. You will also receive helpful information about pet care, including potential hazards such as extra heat, dog poison, and flood.
The device isn’t rechargeable but has an overall battery life of anywhere between six to nine months. Battery life is always an important consideration, especially in this case, where your pet’s life depends on it. As far as we’re concerned, the DOTT Smart dog tag is the most affordable tracker that offers excellent pet recovery and health checks. You can purchase your own DOTT kit for only $39.99 with no subscription fees attached.
MARCOPOLO Advanced Pet Monitoring
The MARCOPOLO Advanced Pet Monitoring is the gold standard for tracking lost pets. Unlike most GPS dog collars that use Bluetooth or GPS to track your pet, this tracking kit uses radar technology. This same type of technology is being used for sensitive military operations, so it might feel a lot like tracking a target in the middle of a battle. The tracking tag attaches to your dog’s collar like a standard GPS. The only difference is that this one also comes with its own locator, so you don’t have to rely on your smartphone or tablet.
The locator operates on two modes: monitoring and tracking. The monitoring mode checks on your pet’s location constantly. In contrast, the tracking mode searches the surrounding area for your lost pet. The locator will show arrows, distance information, and other markers to point you to your pet’s exact location. You will also get alert notifications for when your pet is on the move. It’s clear from the specs alone that this is a powerful and sophisticated device with excellent tracking capabilities.
Each kit should contain everything you need to cover one pet, but it comes with a hefty price tag of $235. That includes a waterproof tracking tag, a locator, a charger, and rechargeable batteries that can last up to six weeks. The kit may look expensive, but it’s not that expensive when you consider that there are no subscription fees. You can also purchase additional tracking tags for your other pets and use the first one’s locator and charger.
Overall, we find that the use of sophisticated radar technology is fit for the hefty price tag of the MARCOPOLO Advanced Pet Monitoring.
Pawscout Smart Tag
The Pawscout smart pet tag is a Bluetooth pet tracker created by the company of the same name. The Pawscout tracking device is essentially a lightweight pet tag that attaches to any collar. The device is relatively straightforward in its functions and does away with a night light or sound activation. Nevertheless, the device should get the job done of tracking a missing pet.
You can set up a safe zone around your house to make sure that it notifies you if your dog goes missing. The device comes with a free phone app that allows you to check on your dog’s location and control it. Should your pet go outside the safe zone, you can actively track him/her using the app. When in tracking mode, the device will emit a low-energy Bluetooth signal to locate your pet.
If your pet wanders too far, though, you will have to rely on the Pawscout community within your area. The app will notify other Pawscout users in your area about your missing pet. Should your pet pass within the Bluetooth radius of another Pawscout app, it will notify you of the latest marked location.
The device itself is waterproof and has a battery life that can last for six to twelve months. The device may not be the most impressive when it comes to features, but it’s highly inexpensive and gets the job done of tracking your pet should they go rogue. The Pawscout Smart Pet Tag retails for a highly affordable price of $19.95.
Findster Duo+ Pet Tracker
Findster Duo+ is an innovative and independent GPS tracker for your pets. Like most dog GPS trackers, the Findster allows for real-time location and activity tracking. The device will notify you immediately when your pet leaves the safe zone. You can go follow your pet using the directions provided by the app.
The tracker has a rounded square or rhomboid appearance and comes in shades of blue. It’s covered in a sturdy, waterproof material that should resist damage for when your pets are into rough and tumble. The device is also equipped with a LED light that you can turn on at night. The tracker battery can last up to five days, although that will be significantly reduced during live tracking.
One feature that makes Findster Duo+ so unique is the fact that it uses its own network. The device makes use of the proprietary MAZE technology developed by its parent company. MAZE is a unique communication protocol that works on its own sub 1GHz band and doesn’t need cell coverage to work. This adequately explains the lack of subscription fees since the device functions independently without telephone companies’ aid. However, the guardian and pet modules must be within range of three to five miles of each other for the location to show up on the app.
Findster Duo+ has an interesting price package for pet owners with at least one pet. Each tracker comes with a pet module, a guardian module, and a charger. The tracker pack suitable for one pet will cost you a one-time fee of $149.99. If you purchase two trackers, you only need to pay $199.99 and only $249.99 for three devices. And as we’ve explained, the service utilizes its own network so there are no subscription fees.
Tractive GPS 3G Pet Tracker
Tractive is an Austria-based company that specializes in tracking devices for pets. Unlike other devices that focus on fitness and health, this device is geared specifically toward the location-tracking.
The device looks pretty much like a black MP3 player with a clip on the back to attach to your dog’s collar. Despite its old-school appearance, the device is lightweight and waterproof. The device monitors your pet’s location and will send you push notifications when your pet leaves the safe zone. If your pet goes missing, the GPS will actively trace its location every few seconds. However, active tracking is automatically limited to 15-minute intervals, after which the device automatically shuts down. Not to worry, though, because you can still restart the device using your phone. There’s also a countdown timer marking the 15-minute interval.
You can also download location information as GPX or KML files. These are the standard format for storing coordinates and geographic information. You could transfer the file to a larger map like Google Earth, etc.
The Tractive GPS 3G Pet Tracker may not have a fitness or health monitor, but it does have everything it needs to locate your pets when they go rogue. The device itself is also less expensive than fitness trackers at just $69.99. But then again, you still have subscription payments to cover the costs of GPS and cellular networks. Users are given the option of a basic subscription ($6.99 per month) or premium subscription ($9.99 per month). A basic subscription will get you tracking and GPS positioning, while premium subscribers get additional features.
Link AKC Smart Dog Collar
The Link AKC is a stylish and high-quality leather GPS dog collar. The device keeps track of your pet mainly via Bluetooth, which it does with a base station’s help. The base station assigns a safe zone using pre-set parameters and will notify you when your pet leaves the safe area on its own. The thing is, you might need more than one base if you have a large home. The device then checks the GPS every 30 seconds until the unit is back in the safe zone or turned off. Another unique feature is called Adventures mode, designed for special trips out of town. The GPS tracker traces your dog’s path during special trips.
You can also set up alerts for when your dog’s environment is too hot or too cold. An LED light was also built into the device for use in dark places. The device also allows you to set up an activity profile that generates recommendations for activity based on your dog’s age, breed, and size. You can also use the app to take pictures of your dog’s paperwork for storage in-app. This is useful for sharing health and wellness updates with the vet and your friends.
The Link AKC Smart Dog Collar is available in four sizes, so you can choose the best fit for your pet. The device is on the upper end of the pricing scale at $179. Then again, there’s the monthly subscription fee, which will cost you $9.95 per month to cover the costs of GPS and cellular networks.
Tips to Prevent Your Pets From Getting Lost
Pet care is a complex and highly varied process that requires plenty of research and lots of love. But when it comes to keeping your pet safe inside your house or outdoors, there are a couple of rules that you need to follow as a responsible pet parent. Just like you wouldn’t leave a child in a stroller outdoors, so too should you take extra precautions to safeguard your pet.
Crucial Precautionary Measures for Pet Recovery
- Make your pet wear a collar with a waterproof dog tag or ID. And yes, this applies to both dogs and cats. Having your pet wear a collar helps other people know that your pet is not homeless. A collar is also a way for a potential rescuer to restrain your pet so the animal can be gently held in place until you get to it. And of course, it’s very crucial to add a waterproof (preferably metal) dog tag with your name and contact information so anyone who encounters your pet will know how to get in touch with you.
- Use a GPS tracker on your pet collar. As we’ve explained at length, a GPS dog collar or tracker is one of the best ways to maximize your chances of getting your pet back if they run off or get stolen. A GPS lets you take control of the situation by keeping tabs on your pet, so you’re always armed with the information that you need. Just make sure to charge the device regularly to make sure it has enough juice to allow you to recover your pet in time.
- Getting your pet chipped may be a little costly on your part, but it will help to identify your pet if it ever gets lost. A microchip doesn’t have tracker abilities like a GPS. Still, it will be a big help in terms of identifying you as the owner. Anyone who finds your pet can have it scanned by a vet, and when they do, they will be able to find your contact information and address. The process of inserting the microchip under your pet’s skin is also relatively painless for your pet if done under a vet’s supervision.
Additional Measures for Your Pet’s Safety
- Use a leash every time you leave the house with your pet. This may seem like a no-brainer, but we just need to emphasize the innumerable number of pets that may have died or disappeared due to the owner’s sheer negligence. We don’t recommend keeping them on a leash all the time, but it’s about choosing the right time to keep them on a leash.
- Train your dog to return to you on command. Most dogs have an innate pull towards exploration and adventure, but sometimes this can get them better and get lost. Training your dog to come back to you on command can be a crucial and potentially life-saving, especially during dangerous or challenging circumstances. Cats typically don’t obey commands, so best to keep them on a leash while outdoors.
- Dogs are physically active creatures that just love to jump, sniff, dig, and escape from wherever you put them in. It’s great if you have a yard or garden for you dog to play in, but you’ll have to secure the garden to make sure that your beloved pet doesn’t go El Chapo on your backyard. Cats, on the other hand, are agile creatures that tend to wander as they please. Make sure to keep them indoors if you’re going out without someone to watch over them.
Final Thoughts on GPS Dog Trackers for Your Pet
There are a handful of preventive measures to ensure your pet can be identified if it goes missing. You could put a dog tag with your contact information or have a microchip placed underneath your pet’s skin. Both measures have their merits, but both still rely on the assumption that your pet will be rescued by someone else. And many things can happen between the time the owner notices they’re gone, and the time they’re found. With GPS trackers, you can locate them irrespective of whether someone finds them or not. Most can also provide you with helpful information about your pet’s behavior and the extent to which they eat, sleep, and exercise.
Nevertheless, having a GPS tracker is no complete assurance that you’ll be able to get your pet back. There are some unfortunate circumstances that would make a recovery unlikely. Let’s say your pet goes missing when the device’s battery is low or if you happened to live in an area with hazy cell reception. Recovery may also be unlikely if you happened to lose your phone right before your dog runs off. These things could hamper your chances of recovering your pet. Even then, the benefits of using a GPS tracker far outweigh these risks. And if you love your pet as much as we do, you won’t take chances with their safety.