The 10 Best Pet Trackers
This wiki has been updated 31 times since it was first published in September of 2015. Losing a companion animal can be terrifying, especially when you live in areas with heavy traffic and other dangers. Rather than frantically posting flyers when your furry friend goes missing, be proactive by using one of these pet trackers to ensure a swift reunion. They use a variety of cellular, GPS, and radio frequency technologies to help pinpoint an animal's location both indoors and out. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
April 29, 2021:
For the most part, this list still seemed to be in good shape, and included some of the best options on the market, but we did identify a few places to improve on things, starting by removing the Loc8tor Tabcat, which wasn’t available at the time of this update’s publication.
We replaced the Link AKC Smart Collar with its logical successor: the Link AKC Plus. Aesthetically, the Plus sports a style that’s quite similar to the company’s original model, but this version benefits from firmware upgrades that improve the unit’s accuracy, and it also offers better battery life.
We added the Pawfit 2 to our list, despite noticing some complaints of questionable accuracy and spotty connectivity with the app. Our leniency in this respect came down to acknowledging that virtually every prominent option in this category had some such complaints attached to it, and appreciating that the Pawfit 2 had some standout features that deserved to be recognized by our rankings.
What were those features? Well, we liked that it issued temperature warnings, which might not be overly useful, but it could also save your four-legged friend’s behind once or twice, if you live in a cold climate and you’re the sort of absent-minded pet owner who has been known to be guilty of leaving your pet outside for longer than you intended. And, we also liked the unit’s text-to-speech functionality, which will identify your pet and let a stranger know where to return it, if it ever gets lost and found before you realize it’s missing. Granted, that’s really just a techy spin on a traditional engraved collar tag, but it still serves a purpose. Last but not least, we liked that it notifies you anytime it’s removed from your pet’s collar, which is a step toward guarding against deliberate petnapping, and not just accidental loss.
If what you’re looking for isn’t so much a loss-prevention device, but rather a capable tracking unit to take your dogs out hunting with, then you might find that you have better luck with our list of GPS dog collars.
March 19, 2020:
One of the most important factors to consider with a pet tracker is how well it can ensure an animal's overall safety, regardless of the environment in which it lives. These devices provide you with peace of mind and visibility into your dog or cat's behavioral patterning and physical whereabouts. This is accomplished through a variety of GPS, Bluetooth,and/or cellular network technologies that are built into our selection so that you're always connected to a pet in one way or another.
We've done our best to present options that not only satisfy the expected status quo for keeping Fido as safe as possible, but that also go above and beyond to provide additional insight into a pet's daily life and how they interact with the world around them.
The Whistle Go Explore, for example, provides any combination of email, text, and app alerts when your dog leaves a designated safe zone, but it also offers monthly monitoring and reporting of a pup's scratching, eating, and sleeping behaviors, some of which can clue you into his overall well-being and whether or not preventive measures may be needed. For the more adventurous human-canine duo, we've included the PetFon GPS, which delivers a tracking range of nearly 3.5 miles in open territory.
Self-contained systems like the Eureka Marco Polo eliminate the need for expensive cellular contracts or dependence on GPS technology, which comes in handy if you travel to places with poor network coverage.
For those who want more than just a tracking solution, we've also added the FitBark GPS, as it can be linked with Fitbit, Apple Watch, Apple HealthKit, and Google Fit devices, allowing both human and canine companion to meet their fitness goals together.
Some of our options, like the Loc8tor Tabcat and Cat Tailer, are dedicated to tracking felines when they happen to wander off. From personal experience, I can tell you that cats, as independent as they may be, are even more difficult to track down than many dogs when they have a mind of their own. Just in the last 6 months alone, I've returned a neighbor's lost cat several times after finding him wandering the street (and nearly hit by a car), thinking to myself how useful it would be if his owner were to equip him with a tracker on his collar and not just a phone number engraved into his tag.
Few people want the mental anguish of spending hours posting lost pet flyers around their neighborhood when they could use one of these trackers for added insurance. While these devices may not be miracle workers, they can help to increase the odds of saving your pet's life at the crucial moment and bringing them back home quickly and safely.
Garmin Dog Collars Whether you're looking for a single unit to help with obedience training, or a complex system to go out hunting with as many as 20 dogs, this company's catalogue has something for you. They aren't the most affordable options on the market, but it's tough to compete with their build quality. garmin.com
Fi Series 2 This collar offers the basic features that you'd expect from top models in this category – like GPS tracking, rugged dust and water protection, and a pedometer – plus it has a built-in RGB LED, effectively letting you remotely activate a colorful nightlight on your pup's neck, if you ever lose track of him during a walk after dark. tryfi.com
How A Pet Tracker Works
GPS trackers are ideal for finding pets that have gone missing.
Pet trackers rely on a variety of today's technological advancements to help a person locate their furry friend. What they all have in common is they typically require the dog to wear either a collar, a tag, or some sort of accessory that contains part of the tracking system. The dog tag varieties can double as both standard identification tags and tracking devices, listing the owner's contact information so anyone who finds the pet can contact their household. Many of these trackers can connect to one's smartphone and send notifications the moment a pet steps out of a designated area. They even show the owner the animal's precise location on a digital map.
Most trackers rely on either global positioning systems (GPS) or radio frequency technology (RF) to locate an animal. GPS-reliant systems have a much larger range than RF ones, and many of them can locate a lost dog anywhere in the country. GPS trackers are ideal for finding pets that have gone missing. RF trackers, on the other hand, are good for short-range needs, like looking for cats who, for many reasons, love to hide. These usually boast a range of several hundred or several thousand feet.
Since some animals can be lost for weeks at a time, battery life has to be a concern. That's why many trackers boast batteries that can last up to 30 days when the GPS is on standby, so owners only need to turn on the actual tracking system when they realize their pet is missing. Multi-pet households can get a tracker that's capable of monitoring the location of several pets at once. These are great for ranch-style homes, where pets are allowed to roam freely.
How To Prevent Pet Theft
Most people would do anything for their beloved pets, including pay large sums of money to get them back, which is a fact that pet thieves take advantage of. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce one's chance of pet theft. First of all, pet owners should make sure their animal isn't visible from the street. It's a good idea, if possible, to only let a pet play in the backyard. If a person only has a front yard, they should look into the best type of fence for their unique pet, considering the pet's habits, size, and jumping abilities.
Most people would do anything for their beloved pets, including pay large sums of money to get them back, which is a fact that pet thieves take advantage of.
If a person's dog is very good at digging holes under fences, or climbing over them, they should back up their physical one with a great wireless pet fence. Pet theft happens outside the home, too. Never tie a pet up outside of a store, even when only going in for a few minutes. A thief only needs a few seconds to snatch a pet. Not to mention that being tied up and left in a strange place can cause a pet an immense amount of anxiety.
Leaving a pet in a car when a person is running errands is also a bad idea. It can be very dangerous for an animal during extreme temperatures, but it also turns one's vehicle into a double target for thieves; now they can steal both a car and an animal in one transaction. Getting a pet microchipped can also help a person get their pet back. If the thief takes the animal to the vet, and the vet scans the chip only to find the owner and the information don't match up, they might confiscate the animal, and contact the real owner.
Top Reasons Dogs Run Away From Home
Any pet can escape their home and run away, but dog owners seem to struggle with this more than others. There are things people can do to deter their dog from wanting to run off. Unneutered male dogs, for example, often run away because they're looking for a female mate. This escape tactic is just one of the many reasons it's important to neuter and spay pets.
A dog might also run away out of sheer boredom, too, so it's important to provide them with plenty of fun, exercise, and distractions. People with yards should play fetch and other games with their dogs, rather than just putting them outside to entertain themselves. Well-exercised dogs are less likely to run away, too, because they're just too tired. Speaking of exercise, some dogs are bred to run a lot every day. So, people with small apartments and no yard shouldn't adopt breeds like huskies who might run away just so they can literally go for a run.
Dogs with a great sense of smell often don't mean to run away, but their desire to chase a scent overrides their desire to stay near their owners. So pet owners with breeds like beagles or coonhounds shouldn't leave their animal unattended in an open space.