GPS Trackers and Smart Collars for Dogs

What features are available for keeping tabs on our dogs and managing their health – and which features we advise you to avoid using for your dog.


Smart technology has found its way into nearly every aspect of our lives – even our dogs’ collars! From using GPS technology to help locate a pet who’s wandered off to accelerometer technology to track activity, modern dog collars offer more than just a functional way to attach an ID tag and leash.

In fact, there are so many functions and features available in various combinations that it’s hard to know what’s what. We’ve organized a table to help you compare products and find a collar that offers just those features you need or want in a smart dog collar.

We were discouraged to discover that a number of companies that produce or sell shock collars for training and/or containment have entered the “smart collar” market, incorporating the ability to use electrostatic shock to collars with more beneficial features. We stand firmly against the use of shock collars for training and containment, and don’t recommend these devices.

Some of the products are familiar to us – we’ve thoroughly tested them in the past – and some we’ve not heard of but spent time looking through the manufacturer’s websites to understand what they offer.

Here’s what we discovered:

Dog Smart Collars Compared

Name & WebsiteMarketed AsMain FeaturesPriceNotes
Fi Smart Dog Collar
Smart dog collar-GPS TrackingPrice depends on length of required subscription. $168-$204/year, including collar.GPS tracking uses three different satellite positioning systems to locate the wearer.

While we were satisfied with the performance of the Fi Series 1 and Series 2, users in the Fi Owners Facebook group have consistently reported very mixed reviews
Fitbark GPS Pet Tracker
Pet GPS and health tracker-GPS Tracking
-Health alerts for changes in sleep or activity
$99 plus $95.40 for a one-year subscription.Marketed battery life of up to six weeks of general use or up to 24 hours in live tracking mode with a refresh rate of 1 minute.

Fitbark GPS taps into Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile’s networks nationwide. Uses both LTE-M and NB-lo T connectivity.

Linkable with the Fitbit app and Apple watch to seamlessly view your dog’s data alongside your own.

In our initial review of this product in 2020 ,there was a lot we liked about the FitBark, but overall, ranked it slightly below the Whistle product we simultaneously reviewed.
Garmin Tracking CollarsHigh-sensitivity GPS tracking device.-Garmin specializes in GPS navigation technology for numerous markets. They offer several products designed for sporting dogs, both with and without tone and/or electrostatic shock features.Garmin’s GPS tracking collars all require a separate Garmin GPS device. Products can be purchased separately or as a set.

The Garmin Astro 900 (tracking, vibration, but no electrostatic shock) retails for $649 for the collar and handheld device as a set. The collar alone is $249 for users who already own a compatible Garmin device. No additional monthly or annual service fee.
These products are in a league of their own compared to the other “pet market” products on this list. They track using GPS and GLONASS (a Russian satellite-based navigation system) technology. Garmin claims this combination allows its compatible receivers to acquire satellites up to 20% faster than devices that rely on GPS alone. According to website claims, products can be used to monitor dogs from up to nine miles with a 2.5-second update rate.

While intended for sporting dogs, if you hike in heavily wooded or remote areas where cell service is unreliable, a more sophisticated tracking device can offer both safety and peace of mind. (Read why a Montana dog trainer chose a Garmin Astro model over Whistle, Fi and other similar products.)
Wireless dog fence and GPS dog collar.-Containment (shock provides barrier)
-GPS tracking
-Activity tracking.
$699 plus monthly subscription.Uses shock technology. Battery life is only 24 hours on a single charge.
Spot On GPS Dog Fence Collar
GPS fence system-Containment (shock provides barrier)
-GPS tracking
$1,295 plus monthly subscription for GPS tracking.
Tractive Waterproof GPS Dog Collar
GPS and health tracker-GPS Tracking
-Health alerts related to changes in sleep or activity
-Activity monitoring
$39.99 plus a subscription fee of $96 (Basic) or $108 (Premium)for a one-year subscription. Premium includes family sharing, worldwide coverage, 365-day location history and GPS data export.Marketed battery life of up to seven days.

Tractive GPS connects to AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile LTE across the United States.

Tractive also offers a smaller model designed for cats.
Health, tracking, and activity collarTwo products: Whistle Go Explore features GPS tracking plus health and activity monitoring.

Whistle Health provides health and activity monitoring.

Whistle Health - $109 for the tracker plus a one-year subscription.Whistle Health has a 60-day battery life.

Various accelerometers track the wearer’s movement multiple times per second and use algorithms to identify movement as specific behaviors.

We were satisfied with the product in our late-2020 review of the then current model.

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Stephanie Colman has been a contributor to Whole Dog Journal since January 2010, with multiple articles recognized by the Dog Writers Association of America.  Colman has an extensive background in positive-reinforcement dog training, having spent more than 15 years teaching group and private training classes focused on basic manners, problem solving, sport-dog training, therapy dog prep, and more.  She’s also competed at high levels in a variety of dog sports including obedience, agility, Rally, hunt tests, lure coursing, and working trials.  She currently serves as the puppy program coordinator at Guide Dogs of America, where she leverages her dog training and journalism/PR backgrounds to recruit and support the organization’s volunteer puppy raisers.  In addition to Whole Dog Journal, her work has also been published in APDT Chronicle of the Dog, Off-Lead Animal Behavior, and the book Magical Dogs: Love and Lessons from our Canine Companions.  She holds a B.A. in Journalism and an M.A. in Mass Communication from California State University, Northridge.  Find her on Twitter and Instagram as @caninestein, or on LinkedIn at


  1. We use Apple AirTags on our dog and cat. Our dog is 15 and mostly blind. While she wouldn’t intentionally run off, if we were separated, she wouldn’t be able to find me. She loses me in our one-level home. She’s microchipped and has an ID tag, but I feel better with being able to track her. Our 19 year old cat no longer can jump our backyard fence but we still “lose” her in the house sometimes as she’s gray and just blends in. We’ve already had to search for her collar one time and being able to play the sound sure helped.

    At under $30 with a replaceable battery that easily lasts a year, this was well worth our peace of mind. We both have iPhones and iPads, so tracking the AirTags is easy. With iOS 17, you can now share an AirTag. (Prior to this version, only one user could view the AirTag.)

  2. There are a ton of articles all over that say airtag are unsafe for your dog. And there are more articles out there that say putting wireless things on your animals where the wifi is continuing to beam down on them is also unhealthy. I understand being scared when your dog or cat go missing but it is not worth the health risk for me.