Finding Fido: The Best GPS Tracker for Dogs
You see them in every neighbourhood: those heartbreaking signs about someone’s beloved lost pup. The owners as desperate for information, putting their phone numbers out there for anyone and everyone to see, and even offering rewards for a safe return.
No More Lost Dogs?
With social media, these lost dog notices have also moved online, with groups dedicated to reuniting lost pets with their distraught owners popping up in every locale.
But what if these notices could all go away? What if no dog ever went missing again? What if canine owners could put a tracking device on their darling pets to keep tabs on their whereabouts?
Fortunately, we live in an age where this is very much possible.
The technology that has been a true blessing for travellers and runners is also perfect for keeping dog owners from the sadness of a lost four-legged friend. Plus, a GPS tracker for dogs helps you answer that little nagging question: where does your pet go when he or she is out wandering?
If you love your pooch, it’s likely that a dog tracker would be a good investment in your peace of mind.
Which ones are the best? Check out these GPS enabled devices.
1. Tractive GPS Pet Tracker
A good, all-purpose GPS tracker for a reasonable £79, the Tractive is a small device (about five by four by one centimetres) that’s lightweight (about 35g) and easily attaches to a dog collar. Since it’s small but not tiny, Tractive suggests using it on medium or larger dogs that weigh at least 4.5 kg.
Once attached and set up, you’ll be able to live track your pet’s wanderings, define a virtual fence zone, and receive alerts if your doggie goes outside your set perimeter. The corresponding app works on both iOS and Android and is actually a full pet management tool, allowing you to keep up on your dog’s vitals, calendar, and more.
Because the Tractive uses a cellular signal, you’ll need to sign up for a monthly subscription, which starts at €4,99, or £3.50, per month and is contract- and fee-free. The battery lasts anywhere from two to five days, depending on signal strength, and it recharges in about two hours.
- Good pet-specific features on the app.
- Affordable price.
- Decent battery life.
- Ongoing monthly fee.
- Not as robust as other trackers.
- Not small enough for really small dogs.
2. PocketFinder GPS Pet Locator
PocketFinder is a California-based company that produces a variety of GPS locators that can be used to keep track of kids, pets, vehicles, and even your luggage. Their pet locator is about the size of a small biscuit, weighs in at around 40g, and effortlessly attaches to your dog’s collar.
It’s plastic, waterproof, and can stand up to whatever your pup puts it through. This one is really designed for larger dogs that weigh nine kg or more.
The PocketFinder app is available for both iOS and Android, and it’s perhaps the nicest part of this dog tracker arrangement. It allows you to set zones and receive email, text, or push notifications when your dog wanders out or re-enters one.
There’s also a speed limit function, so if your dog suddenly starts moving faster than he or she should (like in a car), you’ll be notified. There’s also a full 60-day history of your dog’s walkabouts.
The battery on the PocketFinder device lasts anywhere between one and five days, depending on the type of use and signal strength, and you can adjust the power settings to stretch battery life. You’ll also need a service plan with this one, and at $12.95 USD (about £8) per month, it’s on the higher side; thankfully, there is no contract involved.
- Awesome app.
- Rugged construction.
- Power control for longer battery life.
- Pricey service plan.
- Only good for large dogs.
- Lots of recharging with heavy use.
3. Tagg Pet Tracker
Like the previous two trackers discussed here, the Tagg is a small GPS sensor that attaches to a dog’s collar. It’s small and lightweight (about 36g), and is meant for mid to large sized dogs.
It works with an iOS and Android app as well as a web tool, so you can always check on your pup’s whereabouts. And, within the app or tool, you can set up distance notifications via text or email to let you know if your dog is far from home.
The Tagg’s battery life is impressive at around ten days, and it charges up in about an hour in its docking station. Its price is competitive too, at $79.99 USD (or around £50).
There are, of course, a few drawbacks to note.
First, like the two dog trackers already discussed, you’ll need to buy the service plan, and it runs between $7 and $10 USD (or £4.40 and £6.30) per month. A bigger negative, however, is that currently, the Tagg Pet Tracker works in the US only.
It’s possible that this may change in the future, but take note that the Tagg isn’t a viable option for non-US residents.
- Excellent battery life.
- Competitive price.
- Good notification system.
- Stuck with a service plan.
- Good for customers and dogs in the US only.
4. TrackR Bravo
The TrackR Bravo is a true Indiegogo success story, as it brought in over $1.6 million USD last summer. It’s an all-purpose tracker that can be used on anything, from kids to bikes to keys and much more.
Just a thin disc with a GPS sensor, the TrackR Bravo is about the size and thickness of a medium coin. Secure it in the accessory pet collar, which is waterproof, and it becomes an affordable and useful pet tracking.
And when we say affordable, we mean it: the TrackR Bravo costs just $29 USD (or about £18). Plus, if you order two or more, the price per unit goes down. Link each one to the corresponding app on an iOS or Android device, and you can keep tabs on all sorts of things: pets, valuables, whatever. And while there are no pet-specific options like you’ll find on most of the dedicated dog and pet trackers, the TrackR Bravo can still make a quality dog tracker, especially for the price.
Another great part of the TrackR Bravo is that there’s no monthly service fee. Instead it relies on crowd GPS. Here’s how it works: if you’re within range of the item you’re trying to find, use the app to ring the device, and it will make a noise until you turn it off. If you’re out of range, however, you can let the TrackR Bravo community know, and when another user is within 100 feet of your lost item or dog, you’ll get a GPS notification.
- Super affordable.
- Small and lightweight.
- Crowd GPS means no service fees.
- No dedicated pet tracking features.
- If you live in an area where not a lot of people use TrackR Bravo, the crowd GPS function may not be very useful.
5. PetTronix RoamEO
This is another GPS system that tracks your dog in real time, just without a lot of bells and whistles.
You can take it anywhere, so it’s ideal for people who travel a lot or go caravanning with Rover in tow. And at $179 USD (£114), it’s a bit pricier than others in the lot, even though it doesn’t have as many features, but there’s a good reason for that: the PetTronix RoamEO uses its own receiver rather than an app that takes advantage of your smartphone’s onboard GPS sensor.
In a way, this kind of dog tracker feels a bit outdated, like a standalone GPS in your car. Still the PetTronix is actually perfect for dog owners who don’t have (or want) a smartphone; yes, these people still exist!
There are also no service fees, since it doesn’t use a cellular network, but that comes at a cost of a pretty limited radius of maybe three quarters of a mile. So, if you’ve got a dog that really likes to take off running, you might not be able to track him or her down.
Still, this is a viable GPS tracker for dogs that is made by a consumer-oriented company that’s known for its good customer service.
- No smartphone needed.
- No service fees.
- If you need help, it’s easy to get it.
- Limited service area.
- Extra hardware bumps the price up.
- If you use a smartphone, this is just one more piece of equipment to keep track of.
Professional Solution: Garmin Astro 320
From a well established and respected tracking company like Garmin, you’d expect a pretty fantastic dog tracker, and that’s what the Astro 320 is. Bearing the same name as George Jetson’s faithful canine companion, this standalone device can do much more than simply find your lost dog. In fact, it’s mostly designed to keep track of dogs used for hunting and sport.
You can track up to ten dogs on one Astro 320, provided you have enough individual Garmin T5 dog collars, and it has a range of up to nine miles. It offers a security feature so that no one else but you can watch over Rover’s wanderings, and the mapping features are predictably impressive — this is a Garmin product, after all.
The Astro 320 offers real time updates on each synced pup, and there’s also a power saving feature so that the battery can last in excess of 24 hours. Beneath the extremely rugged construction, there’s an interface that’s bright, colourful, and user friendly.
The Astro 320 may be a solid dog tracker, but you’ll need some deep pockets to afford its $599 USD (£380) retail price; for that money, you get the tracker and one T5 collar. However, if you’re serious about keeping tabs on your sport dog (or dogs), this may be a worthwhile investment.
- Impressive range.
- Track up to ten dogs on one device.
- Lots of helpful features.
- Probably too expensive for the average person.
- Made for much more than simply preventing a lost dog.
Sit, Heel, Fetch, Track
You may be able to teach your dog some simple commands, but you can’t teach your dog to read a map and find his or her way home. Animal rights advocacy groups estimate that one in three pets will go missing, and many of them will never return home. It’s a frightening statistic, especially if you have a strong bond with your special pup.
The solution? A GPS tracker for your dog. The one that’s best for you will depend on a few factors, like price, smartphone compatibility, and what features you’re looking for. Still, we’re confident that one of the dog trackers mentioned here will work quite nicely for you and your four-legged friend.