There is no worse feeling for a pet owner than the fear of a lost dog. GPS pet trackers help make sure that you can always have peace of mind when it comes to your dog’s whereabouts. Just as every dog is unique, so is every GPS tracker. Nowadays, pet owners are spoiled for choice with some great trackers on the market. So, let’s take a look at the best GPS trackers out now to help you find the best one for your pet.
At a Glance: The 3 Best GPS Pet Trackers
- Whistle Go / Go Explore
Review of the Best GPS Dog Trackers
The Tractive GPS Tracker is our top choice because it has all the key features we are looking for. It does this while still managing to keep the price well within reason. As well, the Tractive GPS dog tracker is highly rated, earning a 4.4/5 based on 3961 reviews on Trustpilot.
Our favorite thing about Tractive GPS Tracker is the Live GPS Tracking and the Virtual Fence features. Above all else, a dog GPS tracker should be able to alert you to when your dog is not where it is supposed to be and tell you where it is now. In both of these regards, Tractive does well compared to its competition. Most LTE GPS dog trackers run on the AT&T network, the Tractive excels because it will connect to the best LTE network available. This adaptivity makes its location tracking more accurate than its competitors. With service across 150 countries and real time updates every 2-3 seconds, there should be no pet anxiety regardless of who you are or where you go.
Another area Tractive performs well in is keeping the overall price low. The starting price of the Tractive is $69.99 (currently on special on Amazon for $29.99) with a monthly subscription price of $5.99 a month (for the 5-year subscription). Subscriptions with shorter time commitments are more expensive, but overall the Tractive pet tracker is a good price compared to its competitors.
Many customers on Amazon appreciated how easy the tracker was to use From the cell phone app to the integration with Google Maps, the tech worked well for customers. From a physical standpoint, people liked how easy it was to attach the dog tracker to vests or collars that the dog already owned.
The Tractive pet tracker also includes some fun extras and data for people who are looking for it. This tracker includes an activity monitor to see how much exercise your dog has gotten today. As well, Tractive can tell you the location history of your pet. An included heat map will show you where your dog likes to go and how often. All of this information can help you have fun with your dog and keep it healthy.
One area that some customers felt the Tractive was lacking was in its battery life. The battery life is rated to last up to 5 days on one charge, though some people found it actually lasted less than this. This issue is most likely due to poor coverage which makes the GPS tracker work harder.
As this pet tracker relies on GPS for tracking your pet’s location, something you need to consider is the GPS strength in your area. Some people found that the Virtual Fence feature gave off some false alarms due to weak GPS signals in their location. That being said, a few false alarms are far better than no alarm at all.
The Whistle Go/Go Explore are premium pet trackers that come with some really clever features. These smart GPS trackers focus primarily on the health of your dog, with several functions that monitor the activity and habits of your pet. This is a well-liked product that scores 3.5 stars on Amazon and 4.2 on Trustpilot.
The Whistle products work on AT&T’s LTE system, meaning that you should have coverage across the US. This GPS tracker offers real time updates on your dog’s location. It also gives escape alerts if your pet decides to go for an unplanned stroll. That being said, you should check that AT&T covers wherever you happen to live. As well, the GPS tracking only works in the US and Canada. If your plans include international travel with your pet, then you are better off with another option.
As far as price, the Whistle Go costs $99.99, while the Go Explore comes in at $129.99. On top of this base price, the subscription fee is $6.95 a month on a two-year plan. This makes the Whistle products more expensive than other trackers for dogs.
The best part of the Whistle Go and Whistle Go Explore is their bevy of health monitors and reports. This GPS tracking dog collar will monitor your pet’s activity and record its habits. Based on this data, it will provide you with weekly wellness reports and monthly stats. It can also notify you if there are any changes in behavior for you to worry about. All of this, combined with access to a nutrition calculator and a Tele-Vet means that you can rest easy that your dog is in the best of health.
Like other GPS systems, the Whistle’s battery life depends on where you are and how you use it. As it can run in a power-save mode while using your Wifi, having Wifi across your property will improve the battery life. Whistle claims that the battery life should last 15 days on the Whistle Go and 20 days on the Go Explore. If you live in an area with spotty Wifi and LTE, the battery will drain much more quickly. Under the most challenging of circumstances, the Whistle Go claims to last 3 days while the Go Explore is rated for 5 days. It is important to note that some reviewers mentioned that their battery life dropped significantly over time.
Unlike our previous choices, Petfon does not use LTE coupled with GPS to track your pet. Instead, it only uses a GPS dog tracker. The advantage of this is there is no monthly fee, but it means that there is a limited range. Most consumers have been happy with this product, registering a 4/5 based on around 500 reviews.
Accuracy is not the strong point of this GPS tracker, but it also doesn’t pretend that it is perfect. On its own Amazon listing, it warns that this tracker is meant for dog walking. Trying to monitor your dog from inside will likely result in inaccurate readings due to obstructions to the GPS. In densely populated areas, its range is only .65 miles. In more open areas, the range leaps to 3.5 miles.
For many people, the biggest upside to Petfon is the lack of a sim card or monthly subscription fees. Although this will reduce the range and accuracy, it does cut down on the overall price for the product. At $199.99, the tracker itself is fairly expensive. However, no monthly fees make the Petfon more affordable than more deluxe models.
For features, the Petfon pet tracker does what you expect a GPS tracker would. Relatively real time pet location tracking and a warning if the dog wanders outside of a preset area. Beyond this, there isn’t much else in way of features. If you don’t need or want more than this, then this may be the best GPS tracker for you.
From a hardware point of view, the Petfon has a solid battery rating of 8-16 hours. It is also very light, less than an ounce. One issue some may have is that it is not waterproof. Instead, it is only water-resistant. So no worries if it rains, but if your dog likes to swim, this could be an issue.
As for flaws, there are a couple of things that customers have not liked about this product. Some customers have complained about having to carry both a receiving device and a smartphone to use this smart dog collar. Others have felt that the tracker could be too easily knocked off by an active dog. Overall, these are minor inconveniences and don’t detract from the overall package that Petfon offers.
The Link AKC Smart Collar is a great middle of the line smart dog collar that gives you most of the features you would want. Users on Amazon gave it a score of 3/5 stars because it had poor battery life and some location reliability issues.
The greatest strength of the Link AKC Smart Collar is the collar itself. Many other products had difficulties when it came to keeping the tracker on your pet. This smart dog collar has the tracker built into the collar itself. It also includes a built-in LED light to help you find your dog in the dark and a chime to help you train your dog through sound.
The Link AKC app also has some useful features. The dog collar can store your pet’s vet records and monitor your dog’s activity. As well, it can help you make a virtual scrapbook of your dog’s adventures. These features are accessible through the AKC Link app available on your phone.
The GPS dog tracker on the Link AKC is similar to some of the other options on this list. It runs its GPS tracking through the AT&T LTE network, which means it has good coverage throughout the US. The Link AKC does have some clever tricks as well. It uses Bluetooth to make monitoring your dog’s location more accurate and less battery intensive. The Bluetooth runs through both a home Base Station and your cell phone. This means there should be no issues with accuracy while your dog is close enough to home or in the range of your phone during a walk. Once your dog leaves the Bluetooth range, the LTE GPS will take over and track your dog with no worries.
As the Link AKC does rely on some LTE GPS, it does have a monthly fee of $6.95 when on a two-year plan. With the tracker, the Base Station, and one of the many choices of collars, the total upfront price should come in around $100. This puts this GPS dog tracker in a fairly familiar price range with other LTE offerings on this list.
The Link AKC claims its battery life is somewhere around three days. However, some pet owners had issues with the battery life of this tracker. Because it runs on Bluetooth and GPS, battery life will be determined by how you use this dog tracker.
More worryingly, some users reported a significant lag between the app and your pet’s location. It is hard to say whether this issue is caused by poor GPS coverage or an app issue. Regardless, people found a large delay when syncing to the real time GPS tracking data for their dog. These issues may make this GPS tracker for dog owners less than ideal.
Aimed at hunters and outdoorsmen, the Garmin T5 GPS Dog Collar is the best choice for a select group of people. It is more expensive than other GPS pet collars, and it lacks features, but what it does do, it does very well. This collar is not an accessory for your pet, it is a tool, and you should keep that in mind when looking at the Garmin T5. Based on 61 reviews, it scored 4/5 on Amazon.
The Garmin T5 uses a high-sensitivity GPS receiver to track your dog over rugged terrain. It does not use LTE because this collar is intended for use in the backcountry where that would be of little use anyway. Although it can be affected by terrain, it should have up to 9 miles of range out in the bush.
The Garmin T5 is expensive. It doesn’t have a monthly subscription fee, but the device itself is $249.99. As well, you will need to buy a separate receiver which will put you back another couple hundred dollars. On top of this, several customers have mentioned that the T5 itself does not last long. This problem may be due to the rough use it gets, but some customers report getting only a year or so of use before needing to replace it.
Compared to other pet trackers, the T5 has a lack of extras. What it does do is come preloaded with hundreds of topographical maps so that you can find your dog wherever they may be. As well, it is equipped with an LED beacon that allows you to spot your dog from 100 yards away. Handy for any late-night tracking sessions.
The Garmin T5 GPS tracker also comes with a long battery life of 20 to 40 hours. This should be more than enough considering this should be used outside and not day-to-day. Overall, for those who are going off the grid, this is your best option for a GPS dog tracker. If you only need this collar for taking your pet on a walk around the block, you may want to look elsewhere.
If the Garmin T5 is for long-range, outdoor activity, then the Loc8tor Pet Tracker is the polar opposite. Loc8tor is designed to find pets that are relatively nearby. By using RF technology, the Loc8tor tracker can be very accurate. According to Loc8tor, it can be accurate to within a couple of inches. Most of its customers have loved the simplicity and accuracy of Loc8tor. For this, it has received a 4/5 star rating on Amazon.
The Loc8tor Pet Tracker uses radio frequency technology to home in on a small receiver placed on your pet’s collar. Because it works on radio frequency, there is no screen or map to follow. Instead, a series of lights will tell you when you are heading in the correct direction. This lack of a display may annoy some people who would prefer a GPS screen. However, it also makes it the best tracker for dog owners that are less technologically inclined. There are no complicated apps, just an easy to follow light-up display.
This device is not meant for dog walking. If your pet likes to take frequent long-distance walks, the range may not be enough for you. As its range is only 400 feet, it is more intended for finding dogs or cats that have wandered around the block. It can also be handy for finding small dogs that have hidden somewhere in your backyard.
The Loc8tor does not use an app to function. Instead, you use a small handheld device that lights up to tell you in which direction your pet is. This means there is no special data about your pets or neat reports on your pet’s health. What it can do is help you train your pet to come home itself. Press a button and your pet’s collar will beep. Train your dog or cat that this beep means it is “treat time,” and they will probably come home on their own.
Since there is no screen or GPS technology, this tracker has a long battery life. The website boasts that some users will only need to replace the batteries once a year.
One flaw some people have had is that this technology was designed originally with cats in mind. It also doesn’t come with a collar. This means pet owners will have to attach the trackers themselves. Dog owners especially may need to get creative to make sure that they stay on firmly.
What is the Best GPS Tracker for Cats?
The two major differences you will need to look at with cats is their size and habits. If you have a larger cat that often roams the neighborhood, then the Tractive GPS system would still be a great choice. For smaller cats, you are going to have to be more concerned about the weight of the device. This is where the Loc8tor may be the ideal choice. If your main concern is trying to find where your cat has hidden in your house, then the Loc8tor is perfect. Its accuracy makes it the best for finding cats who are hidden somewhere indoors.
Do GPS Dog Trackers Work?
The short answer is yes. GPS should work for most people in most circumstances. That being said, you need to know that GPS technology is not perfect. GPS accuracy is reliant on the availability of GPS satellites and can be greatly affected by local geography. GPS can be hindered by physical objects like walls, which is why it does not work well when tracking indoors. Luckily, most GPS pet trackers do not solely rely on GPS. They use a combination of GPS, LTE, Wifi, and Bluetooth technology to make up for the shortcomings of GPS.
Are GPS Trackers Safe for Dogs?
Yes, GPS trackers are safe for dogs. GPS itself is completely safe as it does not send any signals. The receiver that you have is only picking up signals, and so is no way a health risk to you or your pet. One thing you should do is to make sure that the device you buy is suitable for your pet. You should check that the GPS collar you use is light enough for your dog. If it is too heavy, the strain may injure your dog’s neck. It should also be snug so that there is no risk of accidentally having it snag on objects and injuring your dog that way.
Our Closing Thoughts:
In the last few years, the market for a good GPS dog tracker has seen a huge boost in interest. This is a good thing for consumers as you can find the best GPS dog tracker for you and your family.
For the majority of people, the best option is going to be one of the LTE GPS dog trackers. Each one of the GPS dog trackers brings its own mix of real time tracking for peace of mind and smart app functions to help you care for your dog. For our money, the Tractive dog GPS tracker edges out its competition as the best tracker. The Tractive succeeds because it does everything you could want it to. It is not too expensive, it has accurate Live GPS tracking across the world, and its app can help you keep your dog healthy and happy.
For those people who are hunting in the backcountry, then it may be better to consider the Garmin T5. On the other hand, if you don’t have any issues with your pet getting beyond your property, then the Loc8tor’s long battery life and accuracy make it ideal.
Regardless of which tracker is best for you, we hope our guide has helped make your choice easier. As a pet owner, your pet’s safety is the most important thing. We hope that one of these GPS trackers can help you keep them as safe and happy as possible.