Have you ever had you dog run off into the neighborhood and get lost? If they wander too far, they might not be able to find their way back. This is especially true for small dogs that spend most of their time indoors or in a fenced-in backyard.
Even if you walk your dog regularly and they may remember the layout of your neighborhood, there’s no guarantee they won’t chase a car or get scared off by something, leading them to places they don’t recognize.
Having your pet go missing can be absolutely devastating. And sometimes, you find out that the worst has happened. This can be especially tough if you have kids, who can have a lot of trouble processing the loss of a beloved pet.
It used to be that you had to hope that an ID tag on your dog’s collar and a backyard fence would keep them from wandering too far from your home. But today, there’s a much better option: GPS dog collars.
Today, GPS is ubiquitous, it’s affordable, and GPS location trackers are smaller than ever before. Dog collars with implanted GPS trackers are affordable, widely available, and well worth the investment. They’re quite similar to the GPS trackers used to track wildlife migration, and they can help you find your lost pet’s exact location in a matter of minutes.
Getting a GPS dog collar, with an engraved ID tag for good measure, is a great way to protect your pet and keep them safe. The faster you find them, the less likely they are to get hurt if they wander too far and can’t find their way back. Knowing that their collar has a location tracker inside it can give you some much-needed peace of mind when you let your dog outside in the backyard unsupervised.
How Do GPS Dog Collars Work?
As you’ve probably noticed, the last few decades have seen GPS go from a cutting-edge military technology to an everyday tool that most of us use pretty regularly. The days of unfolding big state or national maps on road trips are far behind us now. Even printing out MapQuest directions, if you remember that, is a thing of the past. Thanks to ubiquitous GPS, getting directions is as simple as pulling out your smartphone and opening up Google Maps or Apple Maps.
Over time, GPS trackers capable of location tracking have gotten smaller and smaller. Today, they can easily be implanted into things like clothing and pet collars. This has made GPS dog collars something that’s widely available and quite easy to find and purchase.
So how does this work? To understand how GPS-equipped pet collars work, it’s a good idea to start out with a basic explanation of how GPS functions. GPS, short for “global positioning system,” uses a network of satellites to pinpoint the location coordinates of nearly any point on the globe.
The satellites for GPS are highly specialized, and each one broadcasts a continuous signal. This signal is picked up by receivers on the ground, including GPS tracking devices embedded into pet collars. If you’re interested in geeking out on the technical details, Wikipedia actually has a pretty thorough technical overview.
The GPS satellite system is what makes location tracking dog collars possible. The collars are equipped with very small tracking units, which use the GPS system to determine and track the precise location of the collar — and, by extension, the dog that’s wearing it. This location information can be transmitted to any internet-connected computer using a cellular, radio, or satellite modem inside the tracking unit.
The reason this is such a great thing is that if your dog wanders off and you can’t find them, all you need to do is use your computer or smartphone to get their exact location. Along with your pet’s location, you can also access other information like the battery charge level. Some GPS dog collars also allow you to designate a special perimeter area, and if your dog leaves this “safe zone,” you’ll be notified immediately by text or email.
The Top GPS Dog Collars to Consider in 2017
We’ve gone over what GPS dog collars are, how they work, and why it’s a good idea to get one for you own dog. But which GPS dog collar should you buy? Since the technology is so relatively inexpensive and widely available, there are quite a few different brands out there. It can be hard to figure out how they compare in terms of quality, reliability, and useful extra features.
We’ve looked into quite a few different brands and models recently, and we’ve found three brands that stood out to us. Here’s some information about each brand and the features it offers.
Keep in mind that these top three picks aren’t in any particular order. We think all three are worth getting, so take a look at the features and pricing and see which one would be the best fit for you and your pet.
With a battery life of up to seven days, and only two hours until a full charge, you really don’t have to worry about the Whistle 3 running out of battery very often. It’s a separate device that attaches to your dog’s collar or harness, provided it’s at least one inch wide. It has an IP67 waterproof rating.
When you get your Whistle 3, the box will contain the tracker, the accompanying collar attachment, a USB charging cable, and a Quickstart guide to using it.
It can connect to more than one WiFi network, and when it’s in range, it will upload its data via the WiFi connection. This helps the Whistle 3 conserve much-needed battery life. The tracker is compatible with both Apple iOS 9.0 and later, and Android 5.0 and later.
You’ll be able to use the Whistle 3 to receive email, app, or text notifications if your pet leaves the designated “safe place,” which you can set easily. You can also designate more than one safe place, which can be useful. Not only that, but you can also use it to monitor your pet’s daily activity levels, helping you make sure your dog is getting enough physical exercise to stay happy, healthy, and fit. You can set custom goals for this as well, and the app can notify you if your dog’s activity level or sleep patterns change abruptly.
To use the Whistle 3, you’ll need to purchase a subscription plan that allows the device to access the cellular network, but you’ll have a 90 day money-back guarantee. If for some reason, it’s not working out for you, you can send it back and get a full refund on the purchase price.
The Nuzzle is a GPS dog collar attachment with a corresponding mobile app. When you buy the collar, you’ll need to download the app, then register. It simply clips onto your dog’s existing collar.
Not only does the Nuzzle provide GPS tracking and geofencing, but it has additional features as well. It has temperature monitoring, impact detection, and an activity monitor that assesses your pet’s daily activity levels to help you keep them healthy and fit. It’s waterproof and made from durable nylon.
When you use the Nuzzle app to check in on your pet, it lets you know whether they’re playing, exploring, or just resting. You’ll also be able to see how much time they’ve spent on each activity during the day.
Interestingly, Nuzzle also offers pet insurance policies, so if you’ve been considering pet insurance for your dog, it has the benefit of offering both tracking and insurance information in one convenient place.
The Nuzzle has a bigger upfront price than most other GPS dog collars, but there’s no monthly subscription fee.
LINK AKC uses a unique curved design that’s meant to fit as comfortably as possible on dogs of all sizes. Like the Whistle 3 and Nuzzle, it attaches easily to your dog’s existing collar. It’s also quite lightweight, which can be an advantage over other options if you have a small to medium sized dog.
The LINK AKC tracks four key things: Location, Wellness, “Adventures,” and “Sound and Light.” The “Adventures” tracking lets you share, save, and record your dog’s playtime and walks. The “Sound and Light” option helps you train your dog remotely by turning on it’s sound or activating the built-in LED light.
The collar attachment comes in small, medium, large, and extra large sizes, meaning you can find a variant to fit almost any dog. It has two to three days of battery life with normal use, and it’s water resistant even if it’s submerged in up to three feet of water.
Other than its lightweight design and multiple sizing options, one of the other things that sets the LINK ATC apart is that it uses a unique AI algorithm to learn what constitutes “intense” activity for your individual dog. It then uses a 3-axis accelerometer to identify moderate versus intense movement. It also provides personalized recommendations for what kind of activity level your dog needs, taking its breed, age, size, and behavioral patterns into account.
As with most GPS dog collars, the LINK ATC allows you to designate “safe zones,” and receive instant notifications if your dog leaves the designated perimeter. It’s “Adventures” feature offers a unique digital scrapbook feature as well, which logs maps, distances, and photos you take when you bring your dog hiking or walking outdoors.
GPS Dog Collars are Affordable, Feature-Rich, and Worth the Money
The GPS dog collars we’ve highlighted here aren’t exactly bottom-barrel cheap, of course, but they’re not unaffordable by any means. To be honest, the safety and peace of mind that a GPS dog collar can offer is well worth the investment. Most of the collars do require a subscription plan for a modest monthly fee, although you can usually save money by paying for one year or two years in advance.
Today’s GPS collars are more powerful, reliable, and feature-rich than ever before. For pet owners, these devices are well worth it.