Tracking collars are a fairly new addition to the varied range of products available to the dog owner, and there are various different varieties of these on the market today. Tracking collars were initially created to allow hunters to keep a track on the location of their dogs when they were hunting in the field, and find them if they wandered off too far or got overly involved in a chase.
However, tracking collars also have applications for other dog owners too, including the average domestically-kept hound!
Tracking collars can tell you remotely where your dog is and if they are on the move, such as if you are working and expecting a dog walker to come and take your dog out, to keep track of whether or not the person that you are paying is doing what they are supposed to.
They are also particularly useful if your dog has a tendency to stray or run off, allowing you to easily locate and retrieve them without all of the associated run-around. This can be particularly useful for any dog if you take them to a strange place with you on holiday, or move home, during the interim stage while your dog settles and gets to grips with your surroundings and may be more prone to getting lost.
If you are wondering if a tracking collar might be a good idea for your dog, read on to learn more about the different types of collar available, and their pros and cons.
Tracking collars usually consist of a regular collar with a special tracking device on a tag attached to it; you can even attach the tag element to any given collar of your choice. Being able to track your dog relies upon the dog wearing the collar and tag and not losing it (although they are well designed to ensure that they do not come off easily), the battery running the tracker being sufficient to power it, and the tracker itself being able to give off the necessary signal to be tracked.
Different types of tracking collars allow you to follow them in different ways; radio tracking collars transmit a signal that you pick up on a dedicated hand-held device, while GPS tracking collars can be followed in a variety of ways, such as online or on a Smartphone or Iphone app.
Radio tracking collars are designed for use over relatively small ranges, and are roughly similar to walkie-talkies, in that they allow communication between a closed network of devices only, which must remain within range of each other. A small transmitter is attached to the dog’s collar, which in turn sends a shortwave radio signal to the receiver, pinging back to tell you where your dog is in relation to you, how far away, and in what direction.
The range of these devices can vary considerably, but are generally limited and not suitable for tracking a dog through a totally unknown location, or over very long distances. Around 5-7 miles is about the limit of the ability of consistent tracking, and this distance can be reduced considerably if you are within a built up area, or even if poor weather is creating interference.
GPS tracking collars are the method of choice for most dog owners, as GPS collars enable a much wider range of functions, are able to track over larger areas, and provide a greater degree of monitoring and control than radio transmission collars.
The price of GPS tracking collars can vary considerably, but it is certainly possible to get set up with a basic but functional unit for around £100.
Like the radio transmitting collar, the GPS element consists of a tag attached to the dog’s collar, which is then paired with a device such as a laptop or phone to receive the signal. In order to transmit a signal, the GPS unit relies upon being able to contact three space satellites to orient and triangulate the location of the dog, but in even the most remote areas of the UK, this is usually not a problem.
You can follow a GPS device on the go on a Smartphone, or, depending on what company provided your device, log into an account on a website to follow the signal. GPS tags do mean that you can track your dog’s location over an almost limitless geographical range (even from hundreds of miles away) and actually follow a map of where your dog is and where they are going.
However, the ability of the transmitter to ping a signal and work to allow tracking of your dog depends on the battery life of the unit, which is quickly reduced if the chip is left on and transmitting at all times.