In case it hasn’t become abundantly clear: we love dogs. When properly trained, they’re friendly, always ready for the next big adventure, and always there for you when you need them most. As such, they also deserve a lot of respect as well as owners who truly care for them as deeply as they care for their owners. Obviously, that means owners should ensure they’re fed a proper diet, given plenty of exercise and affection, and groomed on an as-needed basis (at the very least). If you can manage that, by all means, go down to your local shelter and look into rescuing a dog.
But there are also a lot of potential pitfalls to animal ownership you might not first consider, like the fact that your four-legged friend may, at some point, run away or get lost. According to The American Humane Association, over 10 million pets go missing every year — and the largest portion of that figure is made up of, you guessed it, dogs. Especially with smart, high-energy breeds, curiosity can sometimes get the better of your animal — often resulting in them escaping your grasp — be that on a daily walk, by hopping over or crawling under a fence, or out on the trails.
Rather than spending your time printing out fliers and canvassing your neighborhood (or wherever it was your pup went missing), there are a few things you can do to get ahead of it and be prepared should you be faced with such an outcome. One of the simplest is by equipping your dog with a GPS device on his or her collar. That way, tracking Fido down is as simple as opening an app on your phone. You might not always need a GPS tracking device, but you’ll be glad you have one of the following best GPS collars in the off chance that you do.
Tractive 3G Dog GPS Tracker
While Tractive is the cheapest GPS dog tracker on our list, it’s not without secondary costs, as the use of the brand’s tracking services will cost you $5 a month. That being said, if you’ve got a dog that’s prone to getting lost, this is a pretty solid option. That’s because the device has an integrated SIM card — meaning it uses cellular towers as the basis for its GPS system. It also boasts a charge of up to five days, waterproofing, and an easy-to-use accompanying app.
Coverage: Worldwide GPS
Black+Decker Smart Dog Collar
Interestingly enough, one of the best GPS dog collars is, in fact, made by a brand famous for building power tools. And while the marriage is a bit odd, it’s easy to see why this wearable tracking device is a solid option. For starters (of course) it comes with onboard GPS which is accessible via an accompanying smartphone app. But it also has some other clever features, as well — like a 2-way radio so you can literally call your dog home. It’s also water-resistant, has an OLED display that can show important information (like your number and your dog’s name), and it functions on simple, reliable 2G coverage.
Whistle 3 GPS Pet Tracker
Whistle claims that their GPS pet tracker is the best all-in-one option on the market — and their bold claim is backed up by literal thousands of satisfied customers. But don’t just take the word-of-mouth at face value; look at what it has to offer. For a small monthly fee starting at just under $7, this cellular-based service piggybacks on AT&T’s award-winning coverage network, allowing for pinpoint GPS anywhere in the U.S.A. It also comes with a simple smartphone app, “pro-active” alerts that keep an eye on your animal’s activity throughout the day, and a battery life of seven days. If this isn’t the best, it’s not far off.
Findster Duo+ Pet Tracker
Findster’s Duo+ pet tracker has one huge leg up on the competition: it doesn’t require a monthly subscription service. Unfortunately, it also comes with a big downside: it doesn’t piggyback on cellular service and, therefore, has a limited range of between 0.5-3 miles. The good news is, as long as you’re on top of things, it’s likely that your pup won’t have gotten too far. It also means this device works anywhere around the world and not just in places where there is cellular service, making it a better option for adventurous types. It can also be paired with two other devices simultaneously, so you can keep an eye on three pets at a time. And that’s more than we can say for most of the other options you see here.
Coverage: 0.5-3 Miles
Biotraka Aware Pet GPS
One of the most all-around reliable and capable pet trackers on our list, the Biotraka Aware Pet GPS is a simple clip-on addition to your dog’s collar with some huge benefits. This includes a 12-month prepaid subscription to their GPS services (normally $69 a year), the ability to set digital safe zones and receive alerts when your pup leaves said zones, a waterproof construction, and one of the widest ranges of tracking networks — as it uses a combination of wireless networks, GPS, and even WiFi.
Coverage: WiFi, GPS, & Global Networks
Garmin Alpha 100 TT 15 Dog GPS
Made specifically with hunting dogs in mind, Garmin’s state-of-the-art Alpha 100 TT 15 Dog GPS is one of the most powerful and reliable on the market. In fact, because it uses GPS and GLONASS, you don’t have to worry about relying on a wireless phone network to cover your search area. It also comes with its own handheld device, 100k pre-loaded TOPO maps, onboard beacon lights, a potential 40-hour battery life, and a whole lot more. Of course, it’s also the most expensive offering on our list, so you take the good with the bad.
Coverage: GPS & GLONASS
Tile Sport Tracking Device
Technically speaking, the Tile Sport is intended more to help you find your phone or your missing keys, but don’t count it out completely when it comes to pet tracking. You see, while a Tile clipped to your dog’s collar will help you find it so long as you’re within 200 feet, you can also enlist the worldwide network of Tile users to help you out in the case that your pup takes off elsewhere. Granted, you’ll have to put your trust in strangers, but it’s a supremely budget-friendly option with some major potential benefits — like crowdsourcing the manhunt.
Coverage: 200ft Range & Worldwide User Network
10 Best Hiking Dog Breeds For Adventure
There are times, of course, when getting lost with your dog can be construed as a good thing. Of course, you’ll want to adopt an animal that can handle such an adventure. And you’ll find them here on our list of the best hiking dog breeds.