Which smart dog collars are best?
According to the ASPCA, there are more than 800,000 stray pets who enter a shelter every year. Of those, about 710,000 are dogs. While many of these animals eventually are returned to their owners, they have to undergo the stressful, scary process of being taken to and kept in a shelter. One way to protect your dog from that, should they ever get lost or stolen, is with a smart dog collar.
Of the many smart dog collars on the market, one of the best is the Whistle GO Explore. Beyond simply tracking your dog’s GPS location, the Whistle GO Explore is an industry leader in pet health tracking, able to keep tabs on your dog’s activity level, calories burned and even activities such as licking and scratching.
What to know before you buy a smart dog collar
Some smart dog collars show your dog’s calorie count for the day, monitor heart rate and act as a complete health monitoring system, especially when coupled with compatible apps. While these often require a subscription, it gives you the best insight into your dog’s health over the years.
When deciding between a traditional dog collar and investing in a smart dog collar, keep the following things in mind.
Many of the most advanced smart dog collars connect to an app, which typically requires a subscription, either monthly or annually. While you may be able to access some features without the subscription, you’ll get the most for your money by committing to it.
That said, a subscription is a recurring cost you’ll have to weigh when purchasing your smart dog collar. While it can give you more information, you may not need such detailed information unless you know your dog is sick, older or susceptible to specific diseases. However, the subscription generally gives you more accuracy.
Integrated collar vs. clip-on
There are two main styles of smart dog collars: one that attaches directly to the collar and the other that clips on, much like a dog tag. With a more integrated smart dog collar, you’ll find they can stand up to more wear and tear. They are also much less likely to get snagged, reducing the risk of strangling. However, these models usually are more expensive.
The clip-on pieces are great for occasional use, such as if you plan to take your dog to the park. They also tend to be cheaper, although typically, they won’t provide the health monitoring other models track. However, having GPS tracking is invaluable should your pet become lost.
Ask yourself which feature is most enticing about a smart dog collar: the GPS tracking or health monitoring. If you have a younger dog that’s in good health, you may simply want to keep track of their location and have some added protection if they ever get out. For that, you could go with a less-expensive model that only tracks the GPS location. If you’re more concerned with monitoring your aging dog’s health in their final years, invest in a subscription-based, more-expensive model.
What to look for in a quality smart dog collar
Having your dog’s GPS location from two hours ago won’t help if they are wandering around lost or if they’ve been stolen. You need to have GPS tracking in real-time. Double-check that the smart dog collar you choose specifically states the tracking is in real-time. This should be the case with the quality ones.
It might surprise you how far your dog can get in such a short amount of time. You don’t want to have your tracking limited to a small range or your dog can quickly outrun that, and your smart dog collar will be useless. Check the distance your dog can go and still be tracked. Compare that to your neighborhood to see how it will work for your pet, should they get lost.
Comprehensive health features
The top-of-the-line smart dog collars have more health features than just tracking the number of steps your dog takes in a day. They have an activity tracker, set goals, show the number of calories burned and more. The ones that connect to an app often have the option to add nutrition information, something that plays a huge role in your dog’s health.
If you plan on taking your dog and their smart dog collar swimming or into the outdoors, a waterproof smart dog collar is essential. Even for those dogs who prefer the indoors, there will be times they have to go outside when it’s raining.
Certain smart dog collars or tags work better with certain phones and devices. Depending on what type of phone you have, you may want to choose one model over another. If the smart dog collar or tag isn’t compatible with your phone, it will be useless.
Long battery life
The worst-case scenario would be that your dog gets out and gets lost, while at the same time your smart dog collar battery dies. A long battery life makes this less likely to happen. Aside from the inconvenience and danger of it dying at the wrong time, if it doesn’t have a relatively long battery life, you’ll have to factor in the expense of changing the battery frequently to your purchase.
How much you can expect to spend on a smart dog collar
The lowest-end options start around $15. For $15-$100, you’ll find those with basic features, mostly ones that track GPS location alone, but some that track health statistics at the higher end of that range. Beyond $100, you’ll find the smart dog collars that have extensive health tracking features and typically require you to pair with an app that needs a subscription.
Smart dog collar FAQ
What are smart dog collars for?
A. There are two primary functions of a smart dog collar: to track the GPS location of your dog and to track your dog’s health. Depending on your reasons for investing in a smart dog collar, you can find one that performs one or both of these functions.
Is a subscription smart dog collar worth it?
A. If your goal for getting a smart dog collar is to monitor and improve the health of your dog, a subscription smart dog collar could be worth it. These typically have better features that provide more accurate information. While it does become a long-term cost that can add up, if you’re monitoring a dog in poor health, working on improving your dog’s health or tracking an older dog, it could be well worth the money.
What’s the best smart dog collar to buy?
Top smart dog collar
What you need to know: A leader in the pet products space, the Whistle GO Explore has everything you could want in a smart dog collar.
What you’ll love: Using the AT&T network, you can locate your lost or stolen dog almost anywhere, even thousands of miles away. You can monitor everything from how many calories they’ve burned to how often they scratched or licked themselves.
What you should consider: This collar requires a subscription that costs $8.25 per month.
Where to buy: Sold by Chewy
Top smart dog collar for the money
What you need to know: Although not strictly speaking a smart dog collar, the Tile Mate has become a favorite among dog owners for tracking the GPS location of their pets.
What you’ll love: Even far from home, you can use the Tile app to see your dog’s most recent location. You can also rely on the Tile network so another user who finds your dog can quickly contact you. It’s like taking the traditional dog tag into the future.
What you should consider: It only tracks GPS location and not in real-time, just the last location.
Worth checking out
What you need to know: A fully-integrated smart dog collar within a quality leather dog collar, the Link AKC Smart Collar is like “a smart phone for your dog.”
What you’ll love: Aside from the nationwide GPS tracking on the AT&T network and the activity monitoring based on your dog’s age, breed and size, this smart dog collar helps with training. It emits a sound to help your dog learn good and bad behavior.
What you should consider: Some users note the area where the unit sits in the leather collar is bulky.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Kasey Van Dyke writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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