Friday, September 27, 2019

GPS Pet Collar Review

We live on a large, forested property with no fences between most neighbours. Our older dogs have been taught their property limits, but the younger dogs are still learning. For now they are on long leads or tie-outs when outside. However, we do want to eventually allow them to roam around free, and so I have been looking at GPS collars lately. All of the dogs are microchipped of course, but that only helps if someone finds them and takes them to a veterinarian or shelter to be scanned. If they do wander off into the forest we want to be able to locate them as quickly as possible.

A GPS locator works by sending a signal from your dog's collar to a GPS satellite. The satellite then sends the dog's coordinates to your tracker - be it your cell phone or a radio transceiver. There are also trackers that work without a GPS chip that send a radio signal from the collar to the transceiver, but the dog must be within a certain range, and you only receive the direction and distance, not the exact coordinates of your dog. Both systems are useful - if you're in an area without cellular coverage you're better off with the radio tracker.

These are my top six GPS collars so far. They range from the simplest "tell me which direction my dog has taken off in" to more gadgety "also tell me my dog's heart rate and how many calories they've burned today". I think we'll probably end up choosing something in between.

Whistle Go Explore  - from $129.95
Whistle Go Explore GPS pet tracker

The Whistle Go Explore is a tracker that clips on to your pet's existing collar. It works through an app on your cell phone and a monthly subscription to the network is required. You can set up safe zones for your dog, and if they go outside of a zone you will get a notification on your phone. You can also add other phone users so that alerts and notifications are shared among family/friends. This tracker has extensive health stat monitoring as well - calories burned, distance traveled, and active minutes. It even tracks licking and scratching patterns! The battery lasts up to 20 days, depending on use.

Pros Cons
 - can set up safety zones  - clip-on - could come loose
 - can add multiple users  - subscription required
 - health stat monitoring

Link AKC Collar - from $90.73
Link AKC GPS pet collar

The Link AKC Collar is a good-looking collar. Made from Italian leather (there is also a sport version with a fabric sleeve), this collar is slightly heavier than the usual collar made of nylon webbing. You can set safety zones and will be alerted if your dog goes outside the designated boundary, but the GPS tracking app requires a monthly service plan. The collar tracks daily stats such as activity levels, walking routes, and ambient temperature. It also has a sound feature that can be turned on remotely for training activities.

Pros Cons
 - stylish leather  - heavier than other collars
 - can set safety zones  - subscription required
 - health stat monitoring
 - sound feature for training

Black+Decker Smart GPS pet collar

The Black+Decker Smart Dog Collar is made of silicon rubber and is waterproof to 3 feet. Customized safety zones can be set up to alert when the dog goes out of bounds. The GPS information is updated to your smart phone app constantly (monthly subscription is required). The collar also has a two-way radio feature so that you can relay commands to the dog or information to the person who finds them. There is also a virtual dog tag that displays the dog's name and your contact information.

Pros Cons
 - can set safety zones  - subscription required
 - health stat monitoring
 - two-way radio feature
 - virtual ID tag

Sport Dog Tek 2.0 GPS pet collar

The SportDOG Brand Tek Series 2.0 GPS Collar is the Cadillac of  GPS collars. Along with GPS satellite tracking this collar tells you what path your dog took and whether or not they're still moving or standing still. It uses a handheld remote rather than your cell phone (no subscription fee). You can add up to 22 dogs on the same system. It is waterproof to 25 feet and has a 10 mile range.

Pros Cons
 - no subscription fee  - expensive
 - can add up to 22 dogs on one system
 - waterproof to 25 feet
 - 10 mile radio range

Gibi Pet Tracker - from $129.99
Gibi GPS pet collar

The Gibi Pet Tracker uses an online browser-based app to locate your pet. You can share the information with friends and family via Google Maps. If your dog leaves your preset safety zone you will receive an email or text. There is a monthly subscription fee for the service. The device slides on to an existing collar so it is more secure than a clip-on monitor. The rechargeable battery lasts up to 5 days and the device is waterproof up to 3 feet. One downside is that the app might not be compatible with newer phones.

Pros Cons
 - lightweight  - subscription fee
 - secure attachment to existing collar  - not compatible with all phones
 - can set up safety zones

Duo+ Tracker Clip - from $199.99
Duo+ Tracker GPS pet tracker

This GPS tracker clips on to your dog's existing collar. The Duo+ Tracker Clip works via an app on your phone with no subscription fee. It also doesn't require cellular coverage to function but uses radio frequencies to establish contact between modules. The system operates by connecting two remotes. When you click your remote the app will show both your location and your dog's location. You can set safety zones and will receive an alert if your dog leaves the area. It has a range of up to 3 miles. You can also add a second pet to the system.

Pros Cons
- no subscription fee  - clip-on - could come loose
- can set up safety zones  - both remotes must be turned on to work
- can add second pet to system   (cannot be turned on remotely
So far I'm leaning towards the Link AKC Collar or the Black+Decker Smart Dog Collar because they both are complete collars rather than clip-ons. The Sport Dog Tek 2.0 GPS Collar is pretty expensive and probably does more than we need. Though you do need to factor in the cost of the subscription serivce when you're calculating the price.

Do you have a favourite pet GPS collar not mentioned above that we should consider? Have you tried any of these GPS trackers and what was your opinion?


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