A good dog owner should never ever let their dog run loose without supervision or unless they’re in a dog park. However, sometimes things happen. Your dog could escape your leash while walking or if you accidentally left your gate open, could escape the yard. That’s where dog trackers comes in.
The difference between a tracker and a microchip
First, let’s clear up the difference between the microchip and the dog tracker. Of course, microchips are a godsend for anyone who has lost a pet.
Microchips are very small, about the size of a grain of rice and they’re very easily implanted with a hypodermic needle, generally in the shoulder area
Microchips don’t track your dog. What they do however, is store the contact information about you. If someone finds your dog and takes her to the veterinarian, they will be equipped with a magic scanner that they wave over your dog’s implanted microchip. The chip gives off radio waves and Voila!, your identification number is displayed and then your contact information is accessed through a data base.
However, a microchip won’t do you or your dog any good unless the information is current. Remember to update whenever there is a change. A microchip will GREATLY increase the chances of you and your pooch being reunited!
Trackers work differently and do just what they say they do. They track your dog so you actually know where she is. You don’t have to wonder “Where the heck is she and has someone found her?”
What to look for in a dog tracker
- Positional accuracy
- Frequency of positional updates
- Ease of use
- Additional useful features
Types of dog trackers
Bluetooth Dog Trackers
These have a very short range – typically less than 30 feet. This means if your dog has escaped more than a few seconds ago, they won’t be much good (Unless you have a really slow dog!)
I’ve heard that having Bluetooth constantly switched on drains some smartphone batteries quickly.
Cellular Dog Trackers
These usually have a module that includes a GPS chip and a SIM card. The GPS chip functions to give your dog’s position. Cell coverage is necessary for the data to be sent to your smartphone.
To operate you attach a transmitter module to your dog’s collar. This module has a GPS chip inside and it receives the signal broadcasted by GPS satellites. This determines your dog’s location.
Then the coordinates are sent to your smartphone while utilizing cell coverage.
What this means is that two technologies are used: GPS to acquire your dog’s location and cell coverage so you can receive the coordinates.
Usually an app on your phone is used to display your dog’s location. In many cases, Wi-Fi is also used as an alternative positional reference.
There are a couple disadvantages to this system. First, you have to pay for the cell service regardless of whether or not you use the tracker. Second, you can’t track in remote areas where there is no cellular service.
GPS Dog Trackers
These can actually tell you if your pooch is walking, sitting or treeing an animal. It can even display detailed topographic maps.
GPS dog trackers use signals emitted from earth orbiting satellites. The dog collar has software that interprets the signals it receives from satellites and uses the data to give your dog’s location. The location is calculated based on the time it took to receive the satellite’s signal and the location of the satellite. By combining that information, the GPS tracker determines the exact position of your dog.The GPS unit on your dog’s collar then sends a radio signal to a handheld device.
A minimum of 4 satellites are used for this process. The more satellites, the better the accuracy.
The GPS trackers on the market today are much more sophisticated and functional than before.
Radio Dog Trackers
The old-fashioned way to track your dog. Radio trackers are generally large and bulky and may only work on a larger dog. However, they do have benefits. These include a longer battery life and no monthly fees like you’d have with a smartphone.
Some modules have a GPS chip which will send coordinates and display them on a map screen. If not, then it’s pretty basic: The closer you get to your pooch, the stronger the signal.
Here is what I consider the best dog tracker on the market:
The Whistle 3 GPS Pet Tracker
The unit is small (1.6″ by 1.3″ and weighs less than 1 ounce). Thus, no heavy weight for your best friend to lug around. You can attach it to a collar up to 1″ wide.
The app is easy to set up and use.
It will send a signal to your smartphone via 3G cellular service on the AT&T network. It also allows you to use WiFi at home or wherever you’d like to designate a “safe place.” If your pooch is within the range of your Wi-Fi, it will switch from 3-G wireless to preserve battery life. If your dog travels outside this designated range, it will switch back to 3G. What this all amounts to is extended battery life.
This tracker is very precise and can determine your dog’s location within 10 to 15 feet. When you open the app, it shows your dog’s most recent location on a map or satellite view and your current location, so you can determine the best route to your friend. You can also follow her travel for the past 24 hours.
In addition, this tracker has an activity mode that shows how much exercise your dog is getting during the day. You can also see the battery charge and it will alert you when it’s low.
It’s 100% waterproof so if your girl decides to frolic in a mud puddle, her device is protected.
You need to subscribe starting at $6.95 per month.
On Amazon, 70% of users give this one a 5-star rating!