All About GPS Dog Tracker Chips And Tracking Collars

Have you ever considered what you would do if you lost your dog?  I can tell you, losing any pet is highly unsettling and in most cases, it’s heart-breaking.  Sure, pet insurance might fiscally cover part of the loss, right? Think again. But, what if you could easily track your dog using a dog GPS tracker?

With trends in technology, tracking, and remote training, your dog is easy to track.  GPS dog trackers are pretty sophisticated these days. I’ll explain how GPS dog tracking devices work and some basic features that go along with conventional models. 

We’ll look at a few different models, from a multiple dog GPS tracking chip to dog tracking collars and devices. From stand-alone dog tracking systems to app-controlled, by the time you’re done this article, you’ll be well-informed about dog GPS trackers.  I’ll also share some of my clever tricks for keeping the dog within sight and preventing it from running off. We’ll get started with a few basics first.


What Is GPS

GPS stands for Global Positioning System.  It is a satellite-based radio-navigation system used for positioning and tracking worldwide.  

An illustration of someone holding a smartphone with a map on a dog tracking app on the screen is shown.
Dog tracking via an app is the newest form of dog tracking technology to hit the public market.

A Little GPS History

Originally, it was called NAVSTAR GPS and was created by the U.S. Department of Defense.  The system is provided by the U.S. Government and they can selectively deny or upset service for a particular area.  This allegedly occurred back in 1999 during the Kargil War, to the Indian army, according to Wikipedia sources.  

Several nations and regions including the European Union, China, India, Japan, and others have been building and launching their own version of the GPS system.  

With new technologies emerging every day, the GPS system has just gotten better.  Anything released in 2018 that utilizes the L5 band is accurate to about 30 centimeters.  To sum up, with that kind of accuracy, it’s not likely you could lose your dog, no matter how far he or she runs, you’ll find them. 

How GPS Works

A satellite is shown in low orbit over the Earth in this photo.  Satellites are the core of the Global Positioning System.
Satellites make the Global Positioning System possible worldwide by covering the Earth at every point by a minimum of 4 satellites.

The Global Positioning System uses radio waves transmitted from GPS satellites orbiting the planet.  A receiver here on the surface can use those waves to triangulate the exact position.


How Dog Tracking GPS Works

Depending on the style of the system, the dog GPS tracker could work in one of a couple of ways.  Here are the system styles I found. First is what I can the companion module trackers. These require two devices, and usually a companion device as well.  I’ll explain. So, the package would come with a small unit you would attach to your dog’s collar. Then a second unit you keep on you. The companion device would typically be your phone with some sort of downloaded supplementary app.  

The two units would need to stay within a certain range of each other in order to be effective. This is the obvious downside if you have a breed like a Husky.  A Husky can quite easily run 25 miles in a day. There are reports of Huskies running as much as 125 miles in a single day. And racing trained Huskies can do that for 10 days straight.  This makes the devices that offer a short-range between the two primary units to be only effective for smaller dogs and breeds that don’t tend to run their butts off. 

The other basic type of GPS dog tracker is the stand-alone style. This type does not require a smartphone to operate and typically has a much greater range than the accompanying device types of dog trackers. These devices typically come with two parts, the tracking collar or chip, and the handheld receiver. The receiver usually has a screen on it where maps and other tracking information and settings can be accessed.


Why Track Your Dog?

At the beginning of this article, I proposed a scenario where you lost your dog.  This would be dreadful for most dog owners. That’s why I really like the idea of a dog tracking collar or dog GPS tracker chip.  I mean, if you are going to use a collar on your dog, which you should simply for identification purposes, then why not add a tracking unit.  And some of the GPS dog trackers that are available today are really cool with a lot of neat features. And some come with some pretty specific training features as well.  

Uses For A GPS Dog Tracking Collar Or Chip

  • Pet Locating
  • Pet Monitoring
  • Hunting Aid Tracking
  • Personal Aid Tracking
  • Professional Dog Tracking

Pet Locating

There are several reasons for tracking your dog.  First, as mentioned, is the fear of losing your dog.  This fear is easily removed by having the peace of mind of having a GPS dog tracker.

Pet Monitoring

I talk a lot on this website about having or building a dog house.  I’ve built many dog houses and am quite comfortable with having a dog outside, given the right climate.  I know that if I put my dog in the back yard for a while, I’m usually out there with her as my current dog is just a small Yorkie.  However, if I had a medium or large dog, I would likely leave them in the yard for a bit if the weather was nice. This would let them soak in some fresh air, run around and so on.  

Now, my yard is fenced, so I’m not too concerned about leaving a dog outside in the yard.  However, what if a part of the fence broke, or the dog found a way out of the yard. This is a possibility for many people and a terrifying one.  Especially if you live near any kind of road with fast-moving traffic. Heaven forbid your dog gets loose and gets out on a roadway. The best thing to do is to monitor your dog if you aren’t going to spend your time out there with them.

I’ve discussed some pretty cool dog monitoring systems like cameras and the like in another article, but imagine having a small dog GPS tracker chip on your dog’s collar.  Harmless, lightweight and the app you’ve installed on your phone shows you where your dog is. I think this is a genius solution to the problem of losing your dog.  Imagine everyone’s dog had a little GPS dog tracking chip on their collars. No one would lose their dogs. What a world it would be.

Hunting Aid Tracking

A hunter walks down a path with his hunting dog and a full catch of bird game in this photo.
GPS dog tracking collars are often used for hunting dogs in the United States of America and abroad.

When hunting, knowing where your dog is, can definitely make your life a lot easier when finding that prey you took down from a distance.  Whether you’ve got a Pointer or another breed of hunting dog, if your prey is too big to be retrieved, your dog can guide you to it.  And having that tracked by a GPS dog tracker makes it foolproof.

Personal Aid Tracking

A service rescue dog is shown with it's special uniform like harness in this photo.  There is a tracking canister attached to the top of the harness which would likely contain the GPS dog tracker chip.
A rescue dog is shown with its a uniform-like harness to show it’s a professional role.

Having a professional dog aid can really make the difference in someone’s life who has to deal with a disability of some type.  Life can be tough, so having a service dog can definitely brighten a person’s day and provide valuable assistance. There are many types of service dogs, but here is a list of the more common service dogs:

  • Guide Dogs
  • Hearing Dogs
  • Mobility Assistance Dogs
  • Diabetic Alert Dogs
  • Seizure Alert Dogs
  • Seizure Response Dogs
  • Psychiatric/Emotional Support Dogs
  • Autism Support Dogs
  • FASD Support Dogs
  • Allergy Detection Dogs

All of these types of specially trained dogs are utilized as personal aids to help people.  This makes these dogs extremely valuable due to their extensive training and abilities. Losing one of these dogs could literally be life-threatening to someone who really needs their assistance.  Having a dog GPS tracker collar and even making sure you get the best dog GPS tracker is, in my opinion, not an option but a necessity when you have one of these hero-like dogs.

Professional Dog Tracking

In this file photo a military soldier carries his dog down a railway track.  The railway track has a light dusting of snow and snow can be seen in the background.  The military man has a multi-pocketed vest which is likely carrying his hand-held dog tracker.
A military soldier carries his dog down a snowy railway track.

Here’s where we get into border patrol, military, and police.  Now, it occurs to me that dogs used in military roles will likely not require one of these dog trackers, except maybe for training purposes.  I would assume the military would use a special military-specific tracking device.

Police and rescue service, however, are more likely to use what I think of as a professional grade dog GPS tracker.  They likely use the best dog GPS tracker on the market. So, I thought it prudent to include this grade of the dog tracker as well.  

If you’re anything like me, then you save up for the professional-grade unit.  I don’t see the point in buying lesser grades unless they really have some cool features.  That might just be the case with dog GPS tracking devices. Let’s take a look at the different types available.


Types Of Dog Trackers

GPS Dog Trackers

As discussed earlier when we talked about GPS and how it works, this class of dog tracking devices uses the Global Positioning System to pinpoint the exact location of the dog tracking collar or chip and displays it for you on a map.  Some of these units are extremely accurate and have a map of your surroundings is always a bonus, especially if you’re in unfamiliar territory. Although they use the satellite GPS system, they still require dual-devices and have a distinct range.

Radio Dog Trackers

Radio dog trackers are tracking systems that use two devices and do not use the GPS network.  They work on the premise of having two devices that ‘speak’ to each other over radio frequencies.  These sorts of devices have a distinct range. Often times they work in combination with GPS to allow for the execution of displaying a map location on either a smartphone or an included proprietary screen.

Radio dog tracking requires a line of sight to be maintained between the devices in order for the maximum functional ability to be met.  Why? Think of a line of sight like the light. Light can’t bend well around things, neither can the radio waves that are transmitted and received from the collar or chip transmitter and the handheld, or carried receiver.  Now radio waves can reflect off of things, which is why these units work, but if you have too many corners for the radio waves to have to bend around, you reduce the effective range of the device.  

To sum up, a range of a radio dog tracking device is directly affected by the quality of the line of sight communication aspect, of the environment separating the transmitter and the receiver.  In simple terms, it’s how well the two devices can ‘see’ each other.

Dog Tracking Chips

Dog tracking chips are small, discreet chips which can often be fastened to a collar or harness with minimal effort.   Some come with a collar, but the better ones come with a clip of some sort to fasten it to your existing dog’s collar or harness.  The dog tracker chip usually works as a radio dog tracking system where it has a secondary device that receives signals from the tracker chip.  These devices typically have a distinct range and fail to function properly when operated outside of that range.

I recommend the dog tracking chip for a shorter distance, even urban-like settings.  Most cities have laws that require your dog to stay on the leash, but what if you’re out at the park and your dog leash brakes as your dog tears off after a squirrel?  In a heavily treed area with a lot of bushes, your dog can disappear really quickly into the distance. If you aren’t really fast on your feet, it’s more than likely you won’t have any chance of keeping up with a dog on a full tear.  This is where the dog tracking chip on your dog’s collar makes an awful lot of sense.

Dog Tracking Collars

Dog tracking collars use a device which is intended to attach directly to a collar, or comes with one.  Often accompanied by electric training electrodes, the dog training, and dog tracking collars often do both tasks but can also be purchased separately.  As I do not recommend using any sort of electric shock training unless endorsed by your veterinarian, I only recommend the tracking version of the dog tracking collar which does not include the electrodes that stick out from the collar and poke your dog’s neck.  

The dog tracking collar is often shaped in a small, rectangular sort of box-like shaped device.  It can be a bit clunky compared to the chip, but often boasts a much greater and extended range than the chip.

I recommend the dog tracking collar for outdoor sorts of activities where there is the need or potential for your dog to be some distance away.  In a situation where your dog could be over a few kilometers or even over a mile away, a dog tracking collar is a necessity.  

Stand-Alone Dog Tracking Devices

Unlike a dog tracking chip that may utilize your smartphone via an app, a stand-alone dog tracking device comes with everything you need to track your dog, no phone required.  The handheld portion of these systems typically has a screen with various functions and features. Again, many of the professional-grade systems come with the training versions as well which include the electrodes.  And again, I’ve only added to this article those which do not have the electrodes, and again, this is just due to personal opinion, refer to your veterinarian about questions regarding risks of these devices to your dog.

Smartphone Assisted Dog Tracking Devices

As mentioned in the GPS dog tracker chip type description above, many of the dog tracker chips use an app as a means of controlling and monitoring the tracking device.  This means that you need to have a compatible secondary device such as a smartphone, in order for the product to function as intended. Most of these devices cannot work in a stand-alone situation.  

Most smartphones assisted dog tracking chips or collars work off the radio dual-device concept.  What do I mean? I mean they usually have a transmitter and a receiver. The transmitter attaches to your dog’s collar and the receiver is kept with you and it ‘talks’ to your smartphone via the accompanying or downloadable app.  So, although technically the transmitter and receiver portions of this dog tracking system may work with each other, you won’t be able to work with them without the app/smartphone interface.

Combination Dog Tracking And Dog Training Collars

There are a great many dog tracking and training combination modules available on the market.  I have found a few that I think are promising, with the use of vibrations or sounds emitted, but I really am not certain the electrode/electric shock training devices are what I would personally choose.  Not to say they aren’t effective, I just think you can train a dog with sound and possibly with a vibrating collar, rather than have to resort to electric shock. But, to each their own, If your vet says it’s safe, then go with that.   

A Note On Proprietary Battery Vs Common Battery Type

Any kind of dog tracking collar or chip will have to run on a battery of some kind.  Unless that is, you have devised a way to harness the dog’s energy to power the tracker?  That would be pretty cool, but I haven’t found anything like that for sale. Not legitimately anyway.

Devices that use a proprietary battery, that is, a special battery you have to buy from the manufacturer can be a bit of a nuisance.  This can be the case if the company stops manufacturing that make/model of the device. Then you might be S.O.L. for getting a replacement battery.  This is the downside to proprietary batteries powering your GPS dog tracker.  

The upside to having a proprietary battery for your GPS dog tracker is that it will likely be rechargeable.  You won’t have to go out and buy replacements all the time. So, although it may cost a bit more to buy, as I would recommend picking up a spare battery just in case, it can be cheaper in the long run due to being able to recharge the battery.

As mentioned, the downside is that the battery will need to be purchased from the manufacturer.  In the case where the battery is of a common type, you can usually purchase rechargeable batteries that fit the device.  This would be, in my opinion, the ideal situation because commonly used sizes of batteries are readily available and thus, easily obtained when needed.


Trackers Reviewed

What kind of an article would this be without some real-world examples of some of the more decent GPS dog trackers?  Well, I did my homework and now bring you my top researched picks to save you the time of having to go do the research yourself.  You’re welcome. Lol, I do, honestly hope you find this information useful and would love it if you’d take a second to leave me a comment below.  Let me know what your thoughts are on the electric shock training modules. I’d love to know what you think about them.

Economy GPS Dog Trackers

PetFon Dog Tracker Chip System

If you have a budget to stick to, then you obviously don’t want to blow a ton of cash on a GPS dog tracker.  But, the idea of having one is pretty enticing. (I bought one off Amazon for my dog and love it). So, I thought I’d add an ‘economy class’ dog tracker.  This one is actually pretty cool.

The PetFon Infographic is shown in this file illustration.
The PetFon Dog Tracker Chip System (phone not included)

Okay, so this GPS dog tracking system comes with three basic components:  

  • A transmitter
  • A receiver
  • A charging case

The Petfon is actually pretty cool.  It doesn’t need any kind of monthly subscription and works with your phone, whether or not your phone has any reception.  The device is also rainproof, so if your dog is caught out in the rain the dog tracker will still function as intended.

PetFon Dog Tracker Features & Benefits

  • Dustproof and rainproof
  • Charging case lasts up to two weeks so vacations are no problem
  • Tracks dog movement so you can keep an eye on exercise levels
  • Never lose your pet again with a tracking system
  • Works with no normal phone reception so as long as your phone and the device are charged you can take it anywhere
  • Up to 3.5 miles or 5.6-kilometer range in open areas
  • Up to 0.65 or 1-kilometer range indoors or in congested urban areas
  • Small (less than 2 inches wide), lightweight and durable
  • Uses an app with a ton of features and is really easy to use
  • The light alarm on transmitter helps you find your dog in the dark
The PetFon even has a light and can ring to make finding your dog even easier.  This is one of the best economy dog tracking devices on the market.
The lights and sound you can trigger on your dog tracker really make it easy to find your dog in the dark.

It works on the same basic setup as many of the new wireless headphones which use the latest technology.  This is a professional grade GPS dog tracking chip for the price of an economy dog tracker. This one has my vote (that’s why I bought it).


Intermediate GPS Dog Trackers

The intermediate-range of GPS dog trackers is the most common for those who are serious about taking out their dog and tracking him or her.  These dog tracking devices are often more expensive than the economy class devices, but also often offer a variety of extra features. The most obvious difference in the ‘classes’ of dog tracking devices is the range.  The economy class will typically always have the smallest range and the professional class of GPS dog trackers will have the greatest range. They will typically also have the best features, but not always.

SportDOG TEK 1.5 GPS Tracking Dog Collar

SportDOG TEK 1.5 GPS Tracking Dog Collar – 7 Miles, 12 Dogs – Optional E-Collar Training Model – $419.95

Retail Price: $480.00
You Save: $60.05

The SportDOG Tek 1.5 GPS Tracking Dog collar is what I think of as a fairly decent dog tracking system.  This is a stand-alone system, which means you don’t need to have a smartphone to use it. The tracking unit comes with a collar and boasts a pretty decent range of 7 miles, or 11.2 km, given line of sight requirements are met.  

Get The SportDOG TEK 1.5 GPS Dog Tracking Collar

This is a great intermediately priced GPS tracker. The beauty of this unit is that you basically get a professional grade tracker, for the price of an intermediate one. With 7 miles (11.2 km) range and up to 12 dogs capacity on a single system, this is solid purchase, in my opinion, for a professional caliber dog tracking system as a much lower price point.


Professional GPS Dog Trackers

SportDOG TEK 2.0 GPS Location Tracking Dog Collar

The new SportDog TEK 2.0 GPS dog tracking collar has an incredible range of up to 10 miles or 16 kilometers.  This unit can handle up to 21 dogs or handheld devices. This allows a huge range of flexibility for use. From a dog walker or dog trainer to a large family, you can have either a lot of GPS tracking dog collars or a bunch of handheld units, one for every member of the family and grandma too.

The flexibility of this system doesn’t stop there either.  This unit is a professional. So, it can be submerged up to 7.6 meters or 25-foot depth.  That’s not just rainproof, that’s waterproof!

Maps And More Features And Benefits

The system comes with pre-loaded topographical maps and also has unlimited map updates for a lifetime, so it will always remain up to date.  

This tracking system tracks the dog’s path, maps it out, stores it, and uses a frequency hopping technology which means it almost never loses its signal within the given range.

The other feature of this system is that it is ready for training integration, should you decide to go that route with the unit, you have the option to do so.


SportDOG TEK 2.0 GPS Location Tracking Dog Collar – 10 Miles, 21 Dogs – Optional E-Collar Training Model – $599.95

Retail Price: $720.00
You Save: $120.05

Extra batteries

I am a firm believer that if you have a product that uses a rechargeable but proprietary battery, that you should always keep a spare.  Just in case, for whatever reason, the company suddenly stops making the product, you’ll have an extra battery for when your existing battery will no longer hold a decent charge.  

The other benefit to having a spare battery is of course, that if you are out in the field on a trip, perhaps a 2-week hunting trip, you may need that extra battery.  You can charge up multiple batteries and carry a few spares, fully charged and ready to go. That will keep things going when your away from a power source to recharge.


SportDOG Tek 2.0 GPS Collar Extra/Replacement Batteries and Adapter – $39.95

Retail Price: $48.00
You Save: $8.05
from: Pet Pro Supply Company

Dog Tracker System Accessories

Portable Power

I had to throw this in here.  Why? I couldn’t tell you how many times I was out in the field and one of my tools died.  Whether it was my camera batteries, or my laptop, or my fish finder, something always loses power.  I have spare batteries, but if you’re out for some time, carrying a bunch of batteries versus carrying 1 extra power bank, I’ve found the power bank to be the way to go.  And it comes with an adapter for your car that can charge the power bank, then you’ve got power as long as there’s gas in the tank. Or, a charge from your car’s batteries if you have an electric.  But, I think as of 2020, most people are still driving gas-powered. But that’s a whole other topic I’ll not get any deeper into today.

My Choice For Portable Power

The power station I like is this one from Amazon.  (See picture below). It’s 200W and it is surprisingly light for the power output you get from it.  Lots of good reviews, and I can tell you this is a decent little unit. Not overpriced either. It comes in handy when your GPS backup battery is going dead.  I charge my first battery using this unit after I’ve swapped it out with my spare. That way it rotates, one battery in my dog tracker, one battery on the charger.

Portable Power Station
The FlashFish portable power bank charger can be charged by plugging into your wall socket, or the cars power socket, or even a solar panel (sold separately).
The FlashFish Power Bank – A portable solution to power your technology.

Portable Power Bank To Charge Your Dog Tracker Batteries

I recommend the FlashFish Portable Power Bank. It’s versatile, decent construction and flexibility of use allow for charging of multiple technologies. And the power bank can be charged in a variety of ways making it one of the most versatile power banks on the market.


Bibliography/Sources

Disclaimer

I do not endorse the use of electric shock training.  Although it may be effective with some dogs, there is a risk of injury to the dog, simply by the nature of the pointy electrodes which protrude on the interior of the collar.  I do not necessarily think the low-level shock is much of a problem, but I’ve seen evidence of sores being caused on a dog’s neck from the electrodes themselves, not necessarily from any kind of shock, but from the electrodes rubbing on the dog’s neck. That being said, I have only put links on this page to reflect products that I believe to be safe for use with dogs and that I personally believe will be of use and a benefit to own.  

I will not endorse any product that I feel may injure or be of detriment to a dog’s health, happiness, or well-being.  

That being said, as I am not personally manufacturing these products.  As such, I cannot attest to any sort of potential warranty issues or defective problems that may arise and are out of my control.  I am simply trying to convey that my personal opinion is such that these products are of value to a dog owner, from my personal perspective and opinion.


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