GPS devices for dogs
Photo courtesy of SpotOn.

No matter how many precautions we take, our canine companions can – and do – get lost. GPS devices are a popular new way to locate missing dogs before the unthinkable happens.

It’s easy to think it won’t happen to you. But the truth is, an estimated one in three dogs go missing at some point in their lives, according to The American Humane Association. So how do you beat the odds? GPS trackers for dogs (and cats) are becoming increasingly popular as more people realize how important it is to keep tabs on their animal companions. These devices are typically designed to clip onto your animal’s collar and, using smart technology, they track his movements and relay the information to your phone or computer. That way, if he does go missing, you can find him as quickly as possible!

How GPS devices help find lost animals

With the rise of microchipping and social media, the days of relying solely on “lost pet” posters are past. But the downside to these solutions is that they aren’t immediate. If your dog goes missing, you have to go through numerous steps – calling around to local animal shelters to see if he has been brought in; posting alerts on social media; and, of course, driving around to look for your lost companion. All this is extremely taxing, especially when emotions are running high.

While a GPS device can’t prevent your dog from getting lost, it can make the aftermath of his disappearance a lot less challenging. Simply pull out your smartphone, open the app that’s linked to your animal’s device, and head to his current location.

Of course, you should still ensure your dog is microchipped, and that his ID tag is clipped securely to his collar. Technology isn’t foolproof, and if his GPS device falls off, loses power, or malfunctions, you’ll need to resort to plan B. Better safe than sorry!

What to look for

There are many different GPS trackers on the market, but not all are created equal. For example, many will give you an accurate transmission of your dog’s location in real-time, whereas some will only periodically send you coordinate updates. Others work by way of Bluetooth, so your smartphone has to be in range of the device in order for you to receive data. The key is to find which option meets your needs and your budget.

When shopping for a GPS device, look for one that isn’t too large, especially if you have a small dog. Bulky trackers can be annoying for a smaller canine, and he might even try to paw it off. The other benefit of buying a compact tracker is that it’ll be less noticeable to a thief. Sadly, a lot of animals that go missing – especially purebreds – are actually stolen. If your dog is wearing an inconspicuous GPS tracker that is unlikely to be removed by the perpetrator, you can alert the police of his location to assist them in retrieving your companion.

Another important thing to look for in a GPS tracker is a long battery life. If you’re planning on heading out for a lengthy hike, or taking your dog camping where you won’t have access to electricity, his tracker will be useless if it dies within the first couple hours.

Of course, durability is also essential. To ensure you’re buying a quality device that can stand up to all your dog’s adventures, avoid the most inexpensive product you can find. You shouldn’t have to pay an arm and a leg, but anything less than $50 should raise a red flag. Ideally, you want to find a tracker that’s both waterproof and shock resistant.

One of the best ways to know whether or not to trust a brand is to read the online reviews. See what others are saying about the GPS device and use the ratings to decide whether or not it’s going to meet your expectations. If you have questions, you can always call the company directly.

Popular brands include:

5 additional reasons to track your dog’s position

  1. Helps you keep tabs of your wanderer. If you live on a large property or like to take your dog on hikes, attaching a GPS tracker to his collar will allow you to see where he’s at all times. Even if he doesn’t get lost, it’s a good way to ensure he’s out of harm’s way when he isn’t in eyeshot.
  2. Lets you easily find him at bathtime. If your dog doesn’t like taking baths, or riding in the car, or getting her nails trimmed, she might have a tendency to hide when it’s time to take part in these activities. While you shouldn’t leave your pet’s GPS tracker on 24/7 (see sidebar above), slipping it on a few hours before you suspect she might voluntarily go missing can save you from a lengthy game of hide and seek.
  3. Keeps track of him in large fenced yards. Some dogs aren’t great at coming when they’re called…especially when they’re having fun outside. Rather than wasting time in pursuit of your stubborn companion, pull up his GPS tracker information on your phone to pinpoint his exact location!
  4. Receive notifications anytime, anywhere. Many GPS devices can be programmed to send you updates throughout the day, so you can keep track of your dog’s movement while you’re at work or on vacation. This feature also allows you to monitor how far your dog walker is actually walking Fido.
  5. Track his activity levels. These days, a lot of pet wearables are equipped with both GPS and activity tracking technology, so you can monitor your dog movement, heart rate, sleep quality, respiration, temperature and more. Visit to learn more.

The first and most important step in preventing your pet from going missing is supervision. But accidents happen, and GPS devices are a safeguard that can make a bad situation a whole lot better.


Animal Wellness is North America's top natural health and lifestyle magazine for dogs and cats, with a readership of over one million every year. AW features articles by some of the most renowned experts in the pet industry, with topics ranging from diet and health related issues, to articles on training, fitness and emotional well being.