Dog trackers are technology that allow you to see where your dog is via an in-phone app which connects to a tracking device on your dog’s collar. With a tracker fitted you shouldn’t have any concerns about losing your dog. However, there are many different types available and it can be difficult choosing the best one for your needs.
We asked six of our DogFriendly Members to trial a few of the trackers on the market and share their experiences with us. We found that the experiences were very different depending on the tracker, the dog, the area and the location of use. We haven’t reached any great conclusions on which tracker is best, if any. But certainly it’s interesting reading.
If you have a tracker we’d love to hear your feedback at our new dedicated tracker page. Here you can just score your tracker out of 5. www.dogfriendlybooks.com/ratetracker.
Our thanks to David Brant and Dazy, Karen Smith and Theo, Rachel West and Libby, Anthony Hagger and Finn, Tony Stockman and Ralph, Sue and Douglas Fowler and Zara for being involved in the trial.
1.THE MISHIKO TRACKER WITH DAZY
Breed: Beagle – Tri colour
Age: 3 years
Mobile Network: Virgin
Reviewer: David G Brant
Dazy is a friendly dog who loves any type of walk, but especially those where her doggy friends are present. She dislikes any water over 1” (after trying to jump a dyke as a puppy and only got half way).
“Overall this tracker didn’t achieve expectations. On a local walk it’s tracking detail was ok, but once out in more rural areas it tracking and mapping of a walk become extremely poor and unusable. While to note mobile signal strength was relatively strong. On occasion it would show Dazy some 3 miles away when she was 50 yards from me. And failed to track whole of walks often showing a straight line between top and start.
There were a number of overall issues relating to battery charging which couldn’t be done on collar and any slight movement while charge would prevent it charging and start syncing to the phone. The support for the Mishiko was only available via an App and took up to 5 days for a response. Geo-fence (creating an alarm perimeter) faired no better and once created it remained static and could not be changed. Causing numerous alarms to go off once a new walk was progressing.
Sorry Mishiko not impressed. 1 star“
READ MORE FOR SIX DIFFERENT TRACKER REVIEWS
2.THE KIPPY WITH THEO
Owner: Karen Smith
Mobile Network: Vodaphone
Theo loves going to the park and playing with his ball. He loves meeting other dogs. He doesn’t like the sea, but enjoys the beach.
“I was impressed with the kippy – it did what it said on the tin. It’s tracker speed, accuracy and mapping remained good whether on a local walk or when we took Theo along the Jurassic Coastline. I really like the fact it told me how many steps Theo had done that day.
The only thing that I didn’t like about the Kippy tracker is that it is held on with Vecro. It didn’t come off, but I didn’t feel 100% comfortable with the attachment. Well done Kippy”
3.THE FITBARK WITH LIBBY
Owner: Rachael West
Mobile Network: EE
Libby is an eight year old Labrador retriever. She was rehomed 4 years ago via the RSPCA. She had been removed from her first home, was rehomed but was returned to the centre so she is now in her third and permanent home. Libby is a lively girl who enjoys her exercise almost as much as she likes her food! We constantly check her weight as we like to keep her at a healthy level and the tracker has helped identify her activity, and the calorie usage data is useful in balancing intake and output.
“As the name suggests the FitBark tracker is primarily use to monitor your dog’s health and activity. But I was impressed with its tracking and accuracy on route.
It was reasonably easy to set up although it said it would be charged after 90 minutes and I had no luck after this short period but once left charging overnight it was easy to install. It suggests levels of activity appropriate for your dog and as Libby was a senior dog I choose the lowest setting of 5300 fitbark points. It was clear early on that this was too low as a target so we increased it. The app sends you a message when you get to target which is encouraging. The currency of FitBark points is not a step count but reflects the activity the dog completes. The monitor records sleep patterns as well so it is easy to see if the dog is maintaining her normal pattern and if there is a disturbance or change that would allow you to check with the vet.
The app allows you to connect with other users to form a league and compare achievements. There are users across the world so you can with their agreement link with other similar dogs. There is a weekly display so you can see the achievements of your dog and the display tells you how your dog compares with others. For Libby this is other senior large dogs, other Labrador retrievers and all dogs on the FitBark. (See pictures of displays) .
We have enjoyed the tracker and I have invested in one so that we can continue monitoring at the end of the trial.”
4.THE NANO TRACKER WITH FINN
Breed: English Springer Spanial
Owner: Anthony Hagger
Tracker: Nano Tracker
Mobile Network: Tesco
Finn is an 18 month old English Springer Spaniel who competes in Competitive Agility, loves training and also walks and socialises in a large park along with chilling out in the café.
“This tracker and app does what it is supposed to do and in ideal conditions the dog Nano tracker will allow the user to locate the dog but after reviewing this product I would not opt to buy this model as both the application and the tracker working together depended on ideal conditions and a good phone signal which is not the kind of conditions one usually loses an animal.
The Nano default reports a live location every 30 seconds and with the speed track option every 10 seconds, I find both these options a bit of a weakness in this device as I would expect real time updates as with a fast moving panicked animal I could see some issues locating the animal until it went to ground with its live update rate.
However it is possible for more then one user to have access to the tracker and so if several people involved in looking for the animal had the application running and tracking the animal on their phones this would enhance the searching possibilities.
I do have concerns about the actual tracker unit having issues working with a low signal even though that same signal is adequate to ring out on my phone.
I also tested the panic button which notifies all those logged into the tracker of a panic button alert. The time between enabling the panic alarm in a high signal area was about 12 seconds between pressing the button and a notification appearing on my phone.
My final rating based on using this tracker and not having access to other trackers is 6/10 and is based on the inability to cope with GSM signal, the application crashing and the lack of real time reporting of location.”
5.THE FINDSTER TRACKER WITH RALPH
Owner: Tony Stockman
Mobile Network: EE
Ralph was taken over from a family who could not cope with his dietry, anxiety & exercise needs at 8 months. Walks halfway to work with mistress and master through parkland and again in the afternoon. Constantly running – either ranging or chasing a ball. Loves the river and weekend woodland walks.
“Dog Tracker appeared well made and durable although both units ‘on/off’ buttons blend too well with the case. If swopped they would contrast and stand out better in low light conditions.
I could find no ‘warning’ either in the box instructions or the web page as to the waterproof protection and had to remove the tracker as soon as we reached the river as a precaution.
However, the attachment is very well designed and a joy to use. The key ring attachment on the guardian (pouch to hold the tracker on the collar) does not look durable. Perhaps consider a metal split ring. The charger is superb – wish my mobile phone was as good”.
6.THE NANO TRACKER WITH ZARA
Breed: Labrador/Dalmatian cross
Owner: Sue and Douglas Fowler
Mobile Network: o2
She is a rescue dog and we think she is about 8.5 years old – we have had her for about 6.5 years. She loves her walks – especially when she gets a pheasant up out of the bushes! She also likes to chase squirrels and rabbits. She loves all people and most dogs – but for some reason she especially loves male black Labradors, especially one in the village called Bear. Sadly her love is unrequited ☹. She hates sudden noises and gets very scared when she hears guns or thunder.
“I haven’t found it very useful, it isn’t intuitive and the app isn’t very well designed. A small example is, if you press “back” it takes you right out of the app instead of just to the previous screen. The battery life is really poor – it has to be re-charged after nearly every walk.
I tried the Track a Walk feature but most walks just didn’t register so I called the Help Desk. The man was very helpful and said he would tweak the settings on the app to try to make it work better. After this, the Geofence feature kept telling me that Zara had left the house even though she (and the tracker) were still sitting next to me! This kept happening so I had to switch the feature off. The man on the Help Desk said he didn’t know much about the Geofence so he said he’d get someone to call me back the next day. No-one ever called.”