Your sense of smell is not as sharp as your dog's, so to help you follow their path you can equip your dog with a GPS tracker. Whether you let your dog roam free, take them camping, or just want an extra level of protection against your pet running away, a GPS tracker is a great way to know where your canine is currently exploring.
We tested 11 GPS trackers in our New York City Lab and then in the real world with real dogs to gather useful data and insights that can inform your selection. While some are exclusively location-focused, others allow you to receive updates on every move, nap, and pat your dog experiences. We also took into consideration the size of the tracker, its battery life, the tracking range, and if it requires a subscription to properly function. And towards the end of testing, each GPS tracker that boasts waterproofing or resistance was submerged in a bowl of water for five minutes.
With a dog GPS tracker, you can tag along on your pup's adventures from your mobile device, and these trackers are designed to comfortably and securely fit on your dog around their neck with a collar or as an attachment to their favorite collar.
Jiobit Smart Tag Location Monitor
Multiple users can monitor a dog from the mobile app
It's extremely compact and lightweight with three clip options to attach to the dog's preferred collar
Ability to designate safe locations and individuals, such as a dog walker and dog park
Subscription provides cellular and GPS coverage for virtually unlimited range within the United States
No light for illumination at night or notifications
The Jiobit Smart Tag is Bluetooth-enabled device that excelled at providing real-time location tracking in our real-world testing. In addition to pinpoint accuracy, the Jiobit mobile app was easy to use, and allows multiple users to receive updates, view location, and control settings. This GPS tracker requires a subscription through Jiobit, with varying commitment levels and prices, but we found the monthly fee easily justifiable for this reliable and accurate tracker.
The device is extremely lightweight (0.04 pounds, which is a little less than four quarters) and comes with three clip options for a secure and comfortable connection to a dog's collar. Once you find the clip that works best, there is less newness for your dog to get used to wearing. The design is very compact so it's even suitable for small dogs and cats to wear without hindering their movements. It's also water-resistant which we tested by taking it out in a few rainstorms. The tracker continues to function properly, but we do not recommend letting your dog swim with this tracker on.
With a monthly subscription, the data plan includes cellular and GPS satellite-powered coverage for outdoor use, and while at home, the tracker can connect to your Wifi network. Using the app, geofencing and associated notifications can be programmed and viewed by multiple users. Throughout our testing, the Smart Tag provided accurate and timely notifications connected to established geofence perimeters we put in place. When our test dog ventured out of the designated "home" area, live tracking with mapped location viewing was instantly activated on the app. The accuracy is extremely specific allowing one to pinpoint their dog's location even when they are in a different room of the same structure. In addition to your home, you can select trusted individuals and locations, so you'll know when your dog walker takes your dog to the dog park, and you won't receive an unnecessary alert misstating that your dog is lost.
With a full charge in under three hours, the battery has the capability to run for 20 full days, but with varying levels of use, the battery typically lasted 10-14 days throughout our testing. There is also a low-battery mode that only keeps essential tracking active to conserve any remaining charge.
This GPS tracker is water-resistant which we tested by taking it out in a few rainstorms. The tracker continues to function properly, but we do not recommend letting your dog swim with this tracker on. The device comes with a USB-powered charging dock and cable and three clip options for a stable connection to a collar or harness. You can also purchase a fabric attachment designed for the GPS tracker but it's sold separately by Jiobit.
Price at time of publish: $150
Collar included: No | Subscription: Yes | Weight: 0.64 ounces | Battery life: 20 days | Range: Unlimited | Water resistant: Yes
Best for Apple Users
Lightweight, compact design
Easily pairs with Apple devices
No charging required and replaceable battery life is approximately 1 year
Significantly lower in price than other trackers on our list and no subscription required
Only compatible with Apple devices
Not recommended for remote locations
For Apple users, the most streamlined way to monitor their dog's location continues to be the AirTag. Everything can be set up and controlled from your iPhone, it's very lightweight, doesn't need to be charged, and you can receive notifications about your dog's location on your Apple computer, iPad, and Apple Watch.
The battery lifespan of this water-resistant tracker lasts about a year, and your connected device will notify you before a replacement is needed, so it requires less daily maintenance than other trackers on our list. Through Apple's "Find My" app, you can locate your dog's AirTag, play a sound to help you locate your dog, and receive a notification when you are home but your dog is not (or vice versa). You can also turn on Lost Mode and if someone with an Apple device finds your pup, the AirTag will send a notification to them with your preferred contact information.
If you are frequently out of range for cellular service, then the AirTag might not work for you. Additionally, a collar is not included, but there is a plethora of sleeves and collars available (some that increase the level of water resistance) that are designed to hold the Apple AirTag securely around your dog's neck. We like this collar from Albion and this slip-on holder from Etsy.
Price at time of publish: $29
Collar included: No | Subscription: No | Weight: 0.39 ounces | Battery life: 1 year | Range: Approximately 30 feet | Water resistant: Yes
Best Activity Tracker
FitBark GPS Dog Tracker (2nd Generation)
Two year warranty from manufacturer
Connects to collar with zip ties (10 are included)
Similar to fitness wearables for humans, this tracker can be used to hit daily activity goals
Rechargeable battery has average lifespan of three to five weeks
The tracker continued to function after five minutes in a bowl of water
Wider shape of device might hinder movements of smaller dogs, like a Chihuahua
Some health monitoring features, like anxiety levels and skin health, are of dubious accuracy
In addition to providing accurate location information, the FitBark GPS Dog Tracker keeps track of your dog's health activity—the duration of naps, number of steps, distance traveled, approximate calories burned, and more.
Similar to a fitness tracker for humans, the app sets daily activity goals—along with notification reminders—for your dog based on the information you provide about their age and size. With regular use of this tracker, keeping tabs on our dog's typical activity levels can help you see if there are any sudden changes in their behavior, or if your dog could potentially benefit from a lifestyle change. All data you can discuss with your veterinarian.
The GPS tracker requires a subscription through FitBark with varying levels of commitment and monthly dues. With the subscription in place, the device will automatically connect to the strongest cellular provider in a given area, so the coverage is reliable and the location tracking is accurate. Through the app, you can designate geofences and receive notifications on connected mobile devices when your dog leaves or enters a designated area. The rechargeable battery has an average lifespan of three to five weeks. We charged the battery every three to four weeks to be on the safe side, but the battery didn't fully run out of power during our testing phase.
The device is lightweight and connects to a collar with zip ties (ten are provided and the excess is easy to clip). On a thirteen-pound canine testing participant, we felt the shape was almost too wide for them to wear comfortably on their collar all day, but they didn't seem to be bothered. If you have a smaller dog, you should take careful note of how they respond to having this extra piece of tech on their collar.
The tracker also offers to monitor anxiety levels and the condition of a dog's skin—two aspects that we found difficult to test for accuracy. We recommend consulting with a certified health professional if you think your pet has any issues.
Price at time of publish: $100
Collar included: No | Subscription: Yes | Weight: 0.57 ounces | Battery life: 3-5 weeks | Range: Unlimited | Water resistant: Yes
Best for Hiking
Link The Link Smart Pet Wearable
Provides pinpoint location accuracy
Two options for attachment to collar provided, plastic clip or elastic
Durable, water-resistant construction continued to function after being submerged in water for five minutes
Ability to track activity and set daily goals
Might be too bulky for smaller dogs to wear regularly
The device itself is lightweight and streamlined making it suitable for outdoor adventures. And after being submerged in a bowl of water for five minutes, the Link Smart Pet Wearable Tracker continued to function properly, so it can definitely withstand the occasional splash of a puddle or rainstorm you may encounter while hiking.
It comes with two attachment options, a clip or an elastic, for connection to a dog's collar. When worn by a 20-pound dog, the device looked large, but the participant sporting the tracker seemed unphased. That said, it might be too bulky for very small dogs.
A subscription is required, but in addition to providing pinpoint location tracking in real-time through cellular and GPS networks, the membership gives you access to a virtual vet technician service available around the clock. Fortunately, during our testing, we did not need to call on a health professional, but you may find the monthly dues more worthwhile with this extra feature.
Similar to other GPS trackers on our list, the Link Smart allows humans to program geofences to establish areas where their dog is safe to roam—all monitored and managed via a mobile app. The app also offers health tracking and the ability to set daily goals for your dog. The device can tell when your dog is running or walking and will keep track of their daily number of steps, duration of rest, and heartbeat rate.
The rechargeable battery has a lifespan of up to 14 days. We recharged it weekly and it never got close to being completely out of power. In addition to the app sending notifications, there is an LED light on the tracker that goes dark and then turns red when the battery needs to be recharged.
Price at time of publish: $149
Collar included: No | Subscription: Yes | Weight: 0.57 ounces | Battery life: 14 days | Range: Unlimited | Water resistant: Yes
Best with No Subscription
Petfon Petfon2 Smart Tracker
No subscription required
Ability to ping the device and turn on multi-colored lights from app
Reliable for use in wet conditions, like rain and snow
Attaches to collar with a durable rubber band so can fit on mos
Shorter battery life (8-16 hours) than other trackers on our list
The Petfon2 offers reliable location tracking in real-time without a subscription. Depending on where you live, you may find that a subscription connecting a tracker to cellular service is not needed, and this one from Petfon easily connects to Wifi for monitoring at home and relies on satellite-powered GPS for use outside. The initial price for this GPS tracker is more expensive than many of the other dog GPS trackers that made our list, but the long-term cost without a subscription will likely be significantly less for most.
From the app on your mobile device, the tracker allows you to view your dog's location, define a safe area, and get notified instantly if they wander outside of that predetermined space. You can also activate a built-in light in a variety of colors and ping the device to help you locate your dog.
While testing, the Petfon 2 showed no lag in effectiveness after multiple jaunts in the snow and rain. To put the tracker's water resistance to the test, we submerged it in a bowl of water for five minutes. It emerged unscathed and never lost connection, so if you get caught in a sudden downpour, you don't have to worry about the integrity of the Petfon 2 GPS tracker. However, with a battery lifespan of 16 hours, this tracker might not be the one for you and your furry friend if you plan to be far away from a power source for a long duration of time.
Price at time of publish: $240
Collar included: No | Subscription: No | Weight: 0.98 ounces | Battery life: 16 hours | Range: Up to 3.5 miles | Water resistant: Yes
Our overall favorite is the Jiobit Smart Tag. A subscription is required, but in addition to tracking a dog's whereabouts, it provides data about their health that may be useful. It comes with three clip options for connection to your dog's preferred collar and allows you to designated safe people and safe areas. If you are not interested in having a subscription, then you should consider the Apple AirTag. This small device can be added to a holder that slips on a collar or a collar designed specifically to hold an AirTag. It doesn't provide additional health insights but it will notify you quickly if your dog moves out of a predetermined range, and it pairs easily with Apple devices.
What to Consider When Shopping for a Dog GPS Tracker
Dog GPS trackers and smart collars use a combination of technologies to pinpoint the location of your dog over time. For example, Apple AirTags use Apple's "Find My" network, which tracks networked Bluetooth signals to triangulate the location of the AirTag on your dog's collar based on other Apple devices in the vicinity.
The Global Positioning System, more commonly known as GPS, is a navigation system that uses a network of satellites to pinpoint any GPS receiver—so long as they're visible to enough satellites in the network. While the GPS network established by the United States uses 28 different satellites, there are other Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) that can also be used for real-time geolocation.
GPS connectivity depends on line of sight with at least 4 satellites in the network. This means you're most likely to lose up-to-date location information in dense urban areas and mountainous terrain.
Most GPS trackers designed for pets require a subscription to activate the GPS tracking capabilities and increase the range of coverage, which is typically unlimited. Subscriptions also provide additional information about your dog that you might find useful, such as sleeping habits and the number of steps they took.
If your dog roams freely, the tracker you select should withstand the elements and their playful tendencies. Depending on your dog, a tracker's ability to hold up against water, pawing and gnawing, and dirt should be a deciding factor.
The level of a device's waterproofing protection is generally determined by an Ingress Protection Rating, more often known as an IP code. This international standard reflects how much protection is offered against solid particles like dust and against water. For example, several GPS tracking devices are coded IP68. The first digit after IP is in reference to dust, and a device is considered "dustproof" if it's labeled with a "6"—the highest rating. The second digit describes waterproofing, and a rating of 8 indicates that the dog collar is capable of complete submersion for more than 30 minutes (at a depth of 1 meter).
The battery life for GPS trackers varies widely. Some are meant to be used on an event basis, with a battery life designed to last few hours during a hike or day out. However, there are also smart collars and trackers with a battery life that can extend into weeks or months. Accounting for battery life before purchase involves, in part, some reflection about your routines. If you anticipate using a collar similarly to a smartwatch, then it may be reasonable to develop a habit of putting it back on the charging dock at at the end of each day. However, if you'd like your dog to wear a GPS tracker or smart collar at all times, then a longer-lasting battery should be a major priority. All of the GPS trackers on our list, except for the Apple AirTag, come with a charger.
How We Tested
We purchased and tested GPS dog trackers in our New York Lab and then in the real world with real dogs. Our methodology guided our testers through multiple scores while also gathering subjective impressions along the way.
To start, our testers timed how long it took to set up the GPS tracker and the corresponding app on their mobile device, and they gave their first impressions on the design and size. They noted their dog's response to wearing the device.
For several weeks, they tested the accuracy and performance of the tracker, noting real-time information and results. They evaluated features, such as lights and sounds, and offered insight into the type of environment and situations in which they felt the tracker performed well and where it fell short.
Testers then ranked the GPS tracker on a scale of 1 to 5 within the following categories: Ease of Setup, Accuracy, Functionality, Design, and Value, and the aggregation of ratings and feedback were used to inform our selections.
How do dog GPS trackers work?
Dog GPS trackers connect to nearby GPS satellites, which send the tracker’s location coordinates to the corresponding mobile device. Some trackers can connect to Wi-Fi networks, cellular service (4G and LTE), and Bluetooth to track your dog.
Are GPS trackers safe for dogs to wear?
If your dog is comfortable wearing a collar, and the GPS tracker isn't too heavy, then a GPS tracker is safe for use. Always check with your veterinary if you are unsure whether your dog should wear a collar.
Do dog collar GPS trackers work indoors and outdoors?
Yes, but the connectivity source and strength will vary based on the tracker you select. AirTags and other devices use proximity to networked Bluetooth signals or Wi-Fi to triangulate your device in relation to other devices. This works great indoors, in urban areas, or other places dense with technology. GPS, on the other hand, relies on line of sight with a minimum of four satellites in a navigational network. This works perfectly in open areas, but may struggle indoors, or when buildings are in the way.
Why Trust the Spruce Pets?
This roundup was written by Anna Mejorada, a writer for The Spruce Pets, who shares her home with a pomeranian named Gidget. Before researching and writing about pet products for a living, Mejorada embarked on a self-mandated, ongoing quest to find the optimal items for her dog. She is now delightfully devoted to helping humans discover and select the most favorable products for their pets.