Halo Dog Collar
GPS Collars

How to Choose a GPS Tracker for Your Dog: A Comprehensive Guide

Discover the ultimate guide to selecting the best GPS tracker for your dog. Learn which features matter most & how to choose wisely!
Written by Mark Braeden

As a dog owner, one of your biggest fears is likely losing your beloved pet. It’s a nightmare scenario, but unfortunately, it happens all too often. The good news is you can take steps to prevent it by investing in a GPS tracker for your dog. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about getting a GPS tracker for your furry friend.

Why You Need a GPS Tracker for Your Dog

This probably goes without saying but the primary reason for getting a GPS tracker for your dog is to prevent losing them. Dogs are naturally curious creatures who can wander off without you noticing. But with a GPS tracker, you can easily locate your dog and bring them home quickly.

A good tracking collar is also an excellent way to monitor your dog’s activity, ensuring they are safe and healthy. Let’s dig a little deeper into each of these benefits.

Preventing Lost Pets

Losing your pet can be an incredibly awful experience. Hours of searching, knocking on doors, and putting up flyers often lead to heartbreak and endless worry.

Consider this scenario: you take your dog for a walk in the park, and suddenly they dash off in pursuit of a squirrel. You may struggle to keep up, and before you know it, they’re nowhere to be found. However, with the help of a GPS tracker, you can swiftly locate your furry friend and ensure their safe return.

Plus, a tracker can be a true lifesaver if you have a dog prone to escaping from your backyard. Instead of constantly fretting about their safety, you can easily track their whereabouts and bring them back home.

Monitoring Your Dog’s Activity

Another great benefit of having a GPS tracker for your dog is the ability to monitor their activity. Tracking their daily walks, running routes, and activity levels can help you ensure that they are getting enough exercise and staying healthy.

For example, if you notice that your dog is not getting enough exercise, you can take them for long walks or runs to ensure that they are getting the activity they need. Also, if your dog is recovering from an injury or illness, you can monitor their activity level to ensure that they are not over-exerting themselves.

Moreover, if you have a dog that likes to explore, a GPS tracker can help you keep an eye on them. You can track their movement and ensure they are not getting into dangerous situations.

Ensuring Your Dog’s Safety

A good tracking collar or device can be invaluable in ensuring your dog’s safety in emergency situations. For example, you can quickly locate your dog if they get lost, caught up in a natural disaster, or even stolen.

If you have a dog that is prone to health issues, a GPS tracker can also help you monitor their location and ensure they are not having a medical emergency.

Tracking collars are also a major lifesaver for people with dogs who are afraid of fireworks or other loud celebrations. More dogs go missing during the summer than at any other time of the year. If it happens to you, you can track Fido’s location and find him before tragedy strikes.

Types of GPS Trackers for Dogs

There are three main types of GPS trackers for dogs to consider: GPS collars, clip-on devices, and GPS-enabled smart tags.

GPS Collars

SpotOn Best Dog GPS Collar

A GPS collar. like Halo or SpotOn, works by attaching a GPS tracker device to a collar. The collar allows you to track your dog’s location using a mobile app or online portal.

GPS collars usually come equipped with additional features such as activity tracking, geofencing, and more. One of the downsides is that these collars may not be comfortable for some dogs to wear all the time. Some of them are very heavy.

GPS Clip-On Devices

Tractive GPS tracking collar

A GPS clip-on device like Tractive or Whistle attaches to your dog’s existing collar, making it a less intrusive option than a traditional collar. The clip-on works similarly to a GPS collar, allowing you to track your dog’s location, daily activity level, and more.

One of the benefits of a GPS clip-on device is that it’s less cumbersome for your dog to wear, making it an excellent option for smaller breeds that might be uncomfortable wearing heavy collars. The downside is that they can fall off your dog’s collar if they’re not attached properly (and sometimes even if they are),

GPS-Enabled Smart Tags

A GPS-enabled smart tag (like the Apple AirTag) attaches to your dog’s collar and works similarly to a GPS collar or clip-on device.

However, smart tags typically lack many additional features and functionality that GPS collars offer. Instead, they focus primarily on locating your dog’s whereabouts in real time.

Now that you have a general idea of the types of dog tracking devices available, let’s go over everything you need to know to choose the right one for your pup.

Key Features to Consider When Choosing a GPS Tracker

Before deciding on a GPS tracker, you’ll need to understand what features to consider to ensure the most comfortable, convenient, and reliable experience for you and your furry friend.

Real-Time Tracking (#1 Priority)

Tracking your dog’s location in real time isn’t just essential for a GPS collar, it should be your #1 priority when comparing features.

Choosing a tracker with the most reliable tracking technology and a good range is crucial. With real-time tracking, you can always know where your dog is, which is especially important if you have an adventurous pup who loves to explore.

Real-time tracking can also help you find your dog if they get lost. If Fido wanders off and you can’t find him, you can use the collar’s app to pinpoint their coordinates and retrieve them quickly.

Black and White Border Collie on Green Grass Field

Battery Life

Even the best GPS collar does you no good if the battery dies before you have a chance to find your pup. So, after real-time tracking, battery life is the next most important feature to consider.

Ideally, look for a tracker that can last up to several days on a single charge, which is typically enough time to provide you with a good amount of coverage.

That said, when considering battery life, you also need to think about how often you’ll use the GPS tracker. If you’re just planning to use it occasionally for quick outings with your pup (such as walks around the block, an hour at the dog park, or an afternoon at the beach) then you can get away with a shorter battery life.

However, if you plan to use it frequently or for long treks (daily hikes or a weekend camping trip), you’ll definitely want a tracker with a longer battery life.

Size and Comfort

When choosing a GPS tracker, consider the size and weight of the device. Look for a GPS tracker that is comfortable and not cumbersome for your dog to wear. If you have a small dog, a bulky tracker may be too heavy and uncomfortable, while a larger dog may require a more robust and durable tracker.

Some GPS trackers are designed to attach to your dog’s collar, while others can be worn as a harness. Choose the best option for your dog’s size and comfort level.


Many dogs love water, and it’s important to make sure that your GPS tracker is waterproof and can withstand various weather conditions. This ensures that the tracker won’t get damaged if your dog decides to go for a swim.

Waterproofing is especially important if you live in an area with frequent rain or snow. You don’t want your GPS tracker to stop working because it got wet. A waterproof GPS tracker will give you peace of mind, knowing you can continuously monitor your dog’s location, regardless of weather conditions.

A black lab swims while wearing a waterproof GPS tracker

Geofencing Capabilities

Depending on your needs, this could either be your #2 priority or the last thing to consider when shopping for the best GPS dog collar. If you don’t need or want a virtual fence, then you can skip ahead to the next section. If you do need a way to keep Fido from getting lost in the first place, though, keep reading.

Geofencing lets you set up virtual boundaries around your dog’s safe zone, alerting you when your dog moves outside of the designated area. This feature helps keep your dog safe, especially if you live in an area with heavy traffic or near busy roads.

Geofencing is also useful if you have a large property or live in a rural area. You can set up a geofence around your property to ensure that your dog stays within the boundaries of your land. This can give you peace of mind, knowing that your dog is safe and secure while having plenty of room to roam.

Overall, when selecting a GPS tracker for your dog, it’s important to consider the features that offer a reliable and convenient tracking experience. Key factors to think about include real-time tracking, geofencing abilities, battery life, waterproofing, as well as the size and comfort of the tracker for your furry companion.

spoton collar app, setting up a virtual fence
The SpotOn Dog Collar is a great example of a GPS tracker with geofence capabilities

Comparing Popular GPS Tracker Brands

Now that you know what to look for in a GPS tracker, here are some of the most popular GPS tracker brands on the market.

FYI, this section includes affiliate links. If you buy anything through these links we earn a commission at no extra cost to you.

SpotOn GPS Dog Collar

SpotOn Collar review featured image

The SpotOn GPS dog collar is one of the best picks if you’re looking for an option that combines real-time tracking with geofencing capability.

It also checks all of the other boxes we talked about above! It’s comfortable, waterproof, and offers a long battery life.

Read my full SpotOn GPS Collar review for more details.


Whistle GPS + Health + Fitness - Smart Dog Collar

Whistle is one of the leading GPS tracking brands, famous for its robust GPS tracking technology, long battery life, and user-friendly app. It comes with several features, like geofencing, to give pet owners peace of mind.

Check out my in-depth review of Whistle for more details.


Fi is another popular brand known for its American-made GPS collar, which uses advanced tracking technology to provide pet owners with real-time location information. The Fi collar also offers features like long battery life, and it’s waterproof.

Read my detailed Fi collar review to learn more.


If you’re looking for a clip-on dog GPS tracking device that checks all of the boxes above AND won’t cost you a small fortune, Tractive is an outstanding option. It offers real-time tracking, highlights your dog’s activity, and is available with national roaming services. This means you can use it when traveling outside the country.

Plus, if you order your collar before the end of July 2023, you can use our exclusive Tractive coupon to save 40%!! Just use the code TECHNOJULY at checkout.

Check out my in-depth review of Tractive for more.

Garmin Alpha 200i

Garmin Alpha 200i/TT 15 Dog Tracking and Training Bundle, Handheld and Collar, Utilizes inReach Technology, Sunlight-readable 3.6" Touchscreen (010-02230-00) , Black

If you love hiking or hunting with your dog and have a bit of wiggle room in your budget for a pricier collar, the Garmin Alpha 200i is a great way to go. Garmin GPS trackers have advanced features like GPS and GLONASS satellite tracking, allowing you to locate your dog quickly.

The device also comes with an intuitive app that is easy to use. Plus, to sweeten the deal even more for adventurers, Garmin preloads TopoActive maps right to the handheld device.

Read my Garmin Alpha 200i review to learn about all of these features and more.

FAQS About GPS Trackers for Dogs

Before we say goodbye, let’s just go over a few quick FAQs. We covered most of them above, but sometimes you just want the short-and-sweet answer.

Where can I get a GPS tracker for my dog?

While you can find good dog GPS tracking collars on sites like Amazon and Walmart, it’s usually better to buy directly through the company’s website. That way, you know you’re getting the real deal.

Why should I consider using a GPS tracker for my dog?

A GPS tracker ensures the safety and security of your dog by allowing you to track their location in real time.

How does a GPS dog collar work?

GPS trackers use satellite technology to pinpoint your dog’s location and transmit it to your smartphone or computer.

What features should I look for in a GPS tracker?

Look for features like real-time tracking, geofencing, waterproof design, long battery life, and compatibility with your device.

Will a GPS tracker be uncomfortable for my dog?

Most GPS trackers are lightweight and designed to be worn comfortably on your dog’s collar, causing no discomfort.

Are there any subscription fees associated with GPS trackers?

Yes, some GPS trackers require a monthly or annual subscription fee to cover the cost of cellular network usage and tracking services.

How accurate are GPS trackers for dogs?

GPS trackers can provide location accuracy within a few meters, but signal strength and environmental factors may affect accuracy.

Final Thoughts

Investing in a GPS tracker for your dog is an excellent way to give you peace of mind and ensure your furry friend’s safety. With the available options, you can find a tracker that is perfect for your dog, with features that meet your needs.


  • Mark Braeden

    Mark is a Boston University graduate and former electrical engineer. In 2017, he decided to combine his tech knowledge with his love for dogs. He spent a year familiarizing himself with the latest GPS tracking collars, invisible fences, and other hot pet gadgets before he wrote his first product review. After selling Technobark, Mark remained a writer and consultant but spends more time on his other passion now: raising and training his growing family of dogs.

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