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Tractive GPS Collar Review: Does It Work for Dogs?

My Jack Russel Terrier Steve with Tractive collar
Written by Mark Braeden

As dog owners, one of our worst nightmares is losing our dogs and never seeing them again. The Tractive GPS Collar was invented to prevent this nightmare from becoming a reality. Does this inexpensive tracking collar work, though? I tried it on my Jack Russell Terrier and am happy to share my expert review. Just keep reading to learn more!

FYI: I used my referral link in this post. If you decide to buy anything through it, I earn a commission at no extra cost to you.

Let’s start with a very quick rundown of the pros and cons. Make sure to read my Tractive GPS Collar Review till the end, though, because we’ll get into a lot more detail.  One quick note: my dog Steve is wearing an older model of the Tractive throughout this review. You can see the newer version below.

Also, for owners of big pups, the Tractive XL tracker (made for dogs 45 lbs and up) just released. Check out Nicole’s Tractive XL review to see how it works!

Tractive GPS tracking collar

Tractive GPS Collar Fast Summary

Tractive Pros

  • Very easy to set up
  • Excellent tracking capabilities with a virtually unlimited range
  • Can run for up to 7 days on a single charge
  • Lightweight
  • Shockproof
  • Reasonable price compared to many competitors (check the current price here)
  • Waterproof
  • Works with most existing collars

Tractive Cons

  • Paid monthly subscription (you MUST have the subscription)
  • Doesn’t always run for 7 days! See notes below.
  • Requires a separate collar.
  • Doesn’t work as a true invisible fence

Tractive GPS Collar Full Review

The American Humane Association estimates that more than 10 MILLION dogs and cats are lost in the US every single year. Some are stolen. Others pull a “Houdini” and escape their yards or slip their leashes.

Worldwide, a scary total of one-third of all pets will get lost at some point in their life. While some may return right away, most are not found or ever returned to their owners.

In this age of technology, there has been an influx of dog trackers and other GPS/internet-based tracking devices for our pets, especially our dogs.

As you can imagine, helping reunite owners with their dogs is a BIG business, and countless companies have jumped on the “GPS dog collar” bandwagon. 

While that’s great on the one hand because it means you have more options than ever before, it also means that there’s a lot more “junk” out there to filter through. Way too many dog tracking devices are either expensive, bulky, or both.

The Tractive Dog GPS Tracker is different. Let’s find out why.

What Is The Tractive Dog Tracker?

The Tractive GPS Dog Collar Tracker is the first real lightweight and waterproof dog tracking device. It is developed by Tractive, an Austrian company that is an expert in real-time pet location tracking using GPS or GSM technology (depending on the availability of services).

I was introduced to the Tractive GPS Collar for dogs by a friend who owns an 8-acre farm and three dogs, including a very curious Jack Russel Terrier. I personally know that my friend’s worst nightmare is his pet dogs getting lost on his farm.

But during an overnight stay with some family members, I noticed that he was pretty relaxed despite his pups wandering around his property without him.   I asked how he can just let them roam around out there without worrying about losing them. He smiled and showed me a box and manual for a Tractive Dog Tracker.

We spent the whole night discussing the product. Yeah, I know, that sounds crazy, but we’re both big “dog tech nerds.” 😀  I found out that he was three months into using the Tractive Dog Tracker, and has known nothing but peace of mind from using the device.

Two months later, I was fitting my furry family members with the Tractive Dog Tracker. So far, it has not failed me or my dogs yet.

My Jack Russel Terrier Steve with Tractive collar
My Jack Russel dog, Steve

Tractive Dog Tracker Product Details

  • The Tractive GPS Dog Collar comes in at just about 35 grams or 1.2 ounces, which is pretty light, for the heavy punch it packs.
  • It is pegged at around 51 mm x 41 mm x 15 mm or 2.0 inches x 1.6 inches x 0.6 inches in size
  • Highly recommended for dogs around 4.5 kilograms or 9 pounds heavy and larger.
  • Easily attaches to pretty any kind of collar that you’re already using. The box comes with everything you need to attach the tracker.

GPS Location Tracking Features

I am checking the current location of my Jack Russel Terrier witj Tractive

The Tractive GPS tracker features a live tracking mode that updates your pet’s location every 2 to 3 seconds. It has a fully interactive map that gives you the option to switch from a regular map to a hybrid one, to a satellite imaging view, and to an augmented reality map.

With this tracker, you can use this to view not only the current location of your pet but also their previous location, thanks to its location history feature.

This device also lets you see the speed and altitude of the unit. In other words, you can see how fast your pet moves and how high the device is above sea level. That second feature comes in handy if you go hiking or mountain climbing with your dog!

The virtual GPS fence or geofencing feature allows you to create customized safe zones for your pets around your house or the neighborhood, and you can set the radius at 164 feet at a minimum.

The Tractive GPS tracker even has a sharing feature that lets you share your pup’s or cat’s location with your family or friends so they can have the ability to help you in case they get lost, but we are all always hoping the opposite.


Tractive dog tag design

The Tractive GPS tracker is a roundish cuboid-shaped device that is very lightweight, making it perfect for both dogs and cats of smaller breeds. You may not be able to tell from the standalone pictures, but this device is actually quite small. As I mentioned earlier, it only measures just about 2 by 1.6 by 0.6 inches (height x width x depth).

It is very easy and convenient to use as it only needs collar clips, which are already provided in the box, to attach to whichever type of collar you use for your pets. There are three designs available: the first one is white with a blue logo; second, a colored pink unit with a white logo adorned with classy Swarovski crystals; lastly is their Hunters Edition in black-on-olive camouflage design.  It only comes in one size, but again, that size works well with most collars.

Activity and Fitness Tracking

Stats of dogs activity on Tractive app

While the tracking features are the main draw, Tractive goes the extra mile and offers even more value for its low price by adding an activity monitor. The Tractive GPS tracker’s activity monitoring feature lets you see how much time your pet spends sleeping and moving or playing around. You can set activity goals so you can make sure your pup (or kitty) can get the right amount of exercise and rest. This feature also lets you unlock achievements such as earning badges or breaking personal best records and lets you share and compare results and rankings among friends and other users. Last, but definitely not least, it also allows you to keep an eye on their diet and calories burned.

How Does The Tractive Dog Tracker Work?

My dog with Tractive tracker on the collar

The Tractive Dog Tracker works just like a cellphone or a smartphone for your dogs, it uses GPS or GSM technology to send an update to the system on the location of the dog that it is tracking or where it is attached.

It has a virtually unlimited range since it relies on an integrated SIM card, much like our cellphone or smartphone, for its tracking capabilities. It uses the best cellular service possible or available in your area and integrates that into the operation of the Tractive Dog Tracker. Services are facilitated by the makers and producers of the Tractive Dog Tracker for a low monthly subscription fee. Different plans are also available depending on your needs and depending on the length of your subscription:

Tractive GPS dog collar subscription plans

For the Tractive GPS tracker, you are required to have a subscription plan but you can choose between basic and premium, starting at $13/month and $108/year, respectively. As you can see, the longer you commit (and pay for upfront), the cheaper the subscription.

The basic package includes GPS tracking and unlimited LIVE tracking. The premium package has both the GPS Tracking and unlimited LIVE Tracking plus it also includes worldwide coverage, unlimited location history, shared access with other accounts, and premium customer service, and you can also export the location history of your pet dogs using a gpx or a kml file.

The Tractive Dog Tracker can run for up to 7 days, depending on the network coverage and usage on one single two-hour charge. However, your mileage may vary with that, depending on how hard you make it work. I’ve talked to people who had no problem getting 7 days off a single charge and others who barely got the two days.  One thing to keep in mind, Tractive also lets you use your trusted WiFi sources such as your home WiFi to establish Power Saving Zones. With this feature, the trackers have a battery life of up to 7 days.

My Experience With The Tractive Dog Tracker

Steve is posing with Tractive dog gps tracker

So far, my experience with the Tractive Dog Tracker has been very positive. I found it to be quite reliable and trustworthy. As for my dogs, they really do not mind it because it is lightweight.  Even my smaller dogs do not seem to notice the Tractive Dog Tracker in their collar.  The fact that it is lightweight and waterproof is also a great plus for me because I do not have to worry and mind after my dogs to try and alter their activities.

We also use the Tractive Dog Tracker Live Tracking feature to monitor our dog’s exercise and especially when I bring them out for hikes or long walks. Make sure to check my list of the best dog fitness & activity trackers.  Spoiler: Tractive Collar is on the list.

tractive gps mobile app

Of course, if the cellular signal is great then the Live Tracking feature of the Tractive Dog Tracker is great to pinpoint the location of our furry family members in real time, especially when you are worried because you can’t see them or they are not responding to your calls.

In one instance, a dog owned by a friend of mine usually goes missing at a certain time of the day, with the Tractive Dog Tracker Live Tracking and full location history feature we were able to find out that he usually visits a stray dog who just gave birth at a nearby clump of bushes. We were able to track his dog, and rescue a mama dog and about five newborn puppies.

Tractive Dog Tracker also has a Virtual Fence feature, where you will get a notification when your dog leaves a certain area that you have designated in the free Tractive GPS app that you can download. Using the app, you can view a digital map and find out how far away and where your dog is based on the position updates that the Tractive Dog Tracker sends to the system.

A friend and fellow dog lover who also use the Tractive Dog Tracker caught his dog walker going well out of the way with their dogs and bringing them while running other errands through the Virtual Fence feature. He never really bothered checking his dog’s location history but he got curious after he got a number of notifications that his dogs are going out of their designated virtual fence whenever their dog walker is walking them around. At first he thought, “Well, that makes sense since they’re on a walk.” Still, he was curious about where they were walking, so he checked.

It is also great for people who travel with their dogs because the Tractive Dog Tracker is supported in more than 150 countries. As long as there is a cellular service or signal, most likely the Tractive Dog Tracker will function there.

Final Verdict on Tractive GPS Collar for Dogs

The Tractive GPS Dog Collar is an awesome device, but it is not perfect like any of these Garmin collars. The great thing about it is it is lightweight, it is shockproof, waterproof, and it is very, very reliable. It is not cumbersome for the dog, is easy to operate, has virtually unlimited range, and is very easy to operate. It works as advertised and is just a great tool to have for peace of mind when you want to monitor your dog’s location.

The Tractive GPS Dog Collar is also relatively cheap (check the current price here), and the monthly fee is small compared to the advantages it brings.

And while it seems like we are singing the praises for the Tractive GPS Dog Collar, because it is indeed great, it is also not perfect. To help you decide if you should consider buying the Tractive GPS Dog Collar or look for a different brand, we have compiled a list of small things that we want to see Tractive GPS Dog Collar makers change in future iterations of the device.

  1. Battery – this is the only major limiting factor that we can see in the Tractive GPS Dog Collar. While it is easy to charge and we can get a whole day out of it, we think that bringing the battery capacity up can also greatly increase the features behind the Tractive GPS Dog Collar. Keep in mind we are not looking at longer battery life, but enough juice to increase pinging and signal generation for better tracking.
  2. Speakers – It would be great if the Tractive GPS Dog Collar can mount a speaker where you can call your dog home if you are a great distance away from each other. It does not have to be a two-way radio, just a way to activate a prerecorded message on the Tractive GPS Dog Collar to remind your dog that he needs to go home because you are looking for him.
  3. Added features – I know I already said that the price for the Tractive GPS Dog Collar and its features are minimal compared to the benefits that it brings, but a few added features to the system certainly would help justify the price, especially for us who have a lot of dogs or own a lot of dogs. Maybe this is just nitpicking on my part, but I really would love to see some out-of-the-box features that would help justify the price or the unit and the monthly subscription.

Considering everything, the Tractive GPS Dog Collar is a great buy for pet owners who want peace of mind over the nagging thought of losing a very important member of the family in the form of our beloved dogs. I give Tractive 9.5/10 and included it in the list of the best dog GPS trackers. While it’s not my #1 overall pick, it’s definitely my favorite “budget-friendly” tracker. I highly recommend getting Tractive from the official website for better product support.


  • 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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Tractive Collar Review
  • Tractive Collar Rating By Mark Braeden
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  • I use Tractive GPS for 2 years. Everything was OK, until after annoying messages the mobile app installed Power Saving Zones.
    The tracker stopped working, only one message: “you are in power saving zone”, even though the tracker is 1000 yards from the home and WIFI is off. Network and GPS are unable. No light and sound.
    And in addition to that, the tracker stopped work in internet mode (in internet browser).
    No option to remove Power Saving Zones.
    I reinstalled app, reset tracker – no effect.
    What idiot made the Power Saving Zones?
    The old tracker works OK.
    Customer service works bad, no phone, no fast responds to emails.
    Please help to remove Power Saving Zones from mobile app.

    • Hello Alexander, I emailed Tractive product managers regarding your issue and hopefully they reply soon to your comment.

  • I own 2 Tractive GPS units and I cannot stress enough how inadequate the batteries are. Also, the tracker is not adequate for rural applications unless you have very little tree cover and excellent internet/Bluetooth.. The interface is okay but not as intuitive as you would hope. When I really need it, I find myself fumbling to find the right interface. I wanted to send an email directly to them, but of course they make that a challenge as well. Great idea, limited applications. I’m now looking for a more reliable system.

  • Actually…neither Tractive nor Whistle can solve your problems if you live in rural area, the carriers do NOT want to improve 4G coverage…

  • There is absolutely zero customer service. Only automated messages. They send you a 1 foot cord that you have to set in a perfect setup if you hope to charge it. All cellular providers are excellent in my rural area yet tractive obviously doesn’t have the relationship they sell you on with them. It’s basically like a phone from 1990. Plus it takes close to a minute to start live tracking when it does have signal. Which I’ll strongly reiterate that it rarely has. Not in big cities, small or rural. If you’re goal is to find your pet dead after it’s dead it probably works great. This certainly sounds like a paid advertisement by tractive and if so I’d love to let whomever isn’t doing any customer service that I will be challenging the subscription charge . It is clearly fraudulent and the is ZERO customer service. They will not respond. Only automated messages.

    • Make sure to type “need an agent” to avoid automated messages. In this case, the system would connect you with the Tractive agent. It’s the reality of today’s customer support

  • I’m wondering if there are corrections (sound, vibration or shock) for leaving the safe-zone fenced areas? I don’t see anything about that in the review or on their webpage.

  • I was unable to install the virtual fence due to the fact that I am not the owner who is presently out of town
    This morning at 3am I became aware that poochi had fled the coop i immediately turned on the tractive tracker and located the escape about a mile away and drove to the location indicated which was a dark commercial area with no lights poochi is a all black Labrador mix and had a difficult time seeing him so to make sure it was him I turned on that one great feature light and was able to recognize him immediately and apprehended him saved the day
    Should I have been able to install the virtual fence when I tried to in the first place this would not have happened to begin with
    Be well and keep in touch

  • Tractive has a lot of shortcomings, but it should be the most balanced product in the overall rating of the pet GPS tracker that requires a monthly fee. Could you please write a recommendation for a pet GPS tracker that does not require a monthly fee?

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