The Tractive GPS dog collar is a nifty, affordable and robust tracker with several app based features. It can be used for both tracking your dog and monitoring their wellbeing. But what’s the tracker like to use and how does it perform? This is my review of the latest Tractive GPS collar.
When I ordered the Tractive GPS collar, I found a few older models. For clarity this review is for the GPS 4 model which connects over 4G/LTE. Upon receiving the tracker, the box contained everything I needed to get started, from the tracker and charging cable to detailed instructions. All that was needed was to install the free app and pay a subscription. More on all of this later in the review, but before we get started – I’ve put together a handy table of key features:
Tractive Dog Tracker Overview
GPS collars are designed to use mobile networks to pinpoint the location of a device. As long as there’s signal in range you can use your phone (which will also require a data plan) to either find the exact location of your dog, or track where they have been.
In addition to finding your dog if it’s lost, it also doubles for an activity monitor (similar to a fitbit) and a virtual fence (setting boundaries on a map where the dog can, and cannot, go).
All of the functionality and configuration is taken care of in a free app available for iOS and Android devices, and you will need a monthly subscription as well as a data plan on your phone to get the full benefit of the device.
It’s IPX7 waterproof. For those not in the know (don’t worry, I had to look it up too) – IPX7 means the device is waterproof when submerged in up to 1m of water for 30 minutes. The tracker is also shockproof.
Tractive GPS Pet Tracker Features
I’ll explain how the app works later in the review, but for now I’ll cover the main features of the tracker and how I found using them.
The main purpose of this smart technology is the GPS tracker. When you’re out walking, the tracker will ping the location to the app every few minutes (you can change this in settings) which keeps the battery usage low.
Live mode will update the tracker location every 2-3 seconds. This is useful if you’re looking for the exact location of your dog. This will use up more battery, but generally you’ll only use it when needed.
You can also activate an alarm or a flashing light. The alarm is fairly low, but audible, it plays a ring tone like an old Nokia. There are reviews online saying the sound is too low, but a loud alarm would probably startle your dog – and with the GPS being fairly accurate to the spot of the monitor, you’d probably hear it. The light less so, it’s the LED light at the top that comes on – you’d have to be fairly eagle eyed to stop it (assuming it’s even facing you) but it could come in handy.
An activity monitor, or dog fitbit, reports on the amount of exercise your dog has done (while wearing the tracker). You can start by setting a daily goal. For example the app has suggested that for a Great Dane at my dogs age, weight and height they would tend to get 110-210 mins of exercise a day. I adjusted it as my dog would probably cry at a 2 1/2 hour stint, but you get the idea.
Once you start using the Tractive activity monitor it will start telling you how active your dog has been, how many calories they’ve burned, heat maps to show exertion, how long they’ve slept etc.
It’s a pretty good feature for gathering information on your dogs exercise – particularly if you’re monitoring activity for health purposes. There are other dog fit-bits on the market dedicated to this, and go into more depth – but it’s a nice addition.
On the basic subscription the tractive will keep a record of location using 3rd party apps for a duration of 24 hours. It shows where your dog has been and up to where they are now. It’s a years worth of date on the premium plan (plus you can export the data) but for my purposes, a day was more than adequate.
I really liked the Virtual Fence feature. In short, using the geolocation of where you are at that moment (say home) you can extend a safe and out of bounds area on the map.
What’s In the Box?
When the little box arrived I was surprised by how compact it all seemed. But that was part of the beauty – a tracker, a charger and the rest is done from my phone.
The charging cable is a nice touch. It runs standard USB on one end (you’ll need a USB adapter if you’re charging from the mains – there is also one available from their site). On the other end is a magnetic connector that just clicks onto the tracker.
Those blue things you can see on the tracker are rubber holders designed to fit around your dogs collar (or harness). They’re easy to remove and re-attach.
Inside the box you’ll also find instructions and some stickers where you can write your dogs details.
Subscription and Registration
In order to work, tractive requires a monthly registration fee. This allows the activation of the GPS and registration of your account. There are two types of plans available, a basic and a premium. I wont go into too much detail, but I found the basic to be adequate for my needs.
The basic plan, which includes GPS tracking, live tracking and activity monitoring is available as a monthly, yearly or two year subscription. Premium has the same but includes worldwide coverage, family sharing and better support.
You can signup on a regular monthly, but there are also year, two year and five year options which bring the price down considerable. Overall, even at the monthly rate, the cost is very reasonable.
I found the subscription signup a little frustrating. Though financially it’s a lot cheaper to sign up on a longer contract, sometimes (like I did) you just want to try it for a month and then decide. That’s fine because they offer a single month.
However, they’ve excluded this when setting it up on the app. When I was originally registering on the app, I got as far as the subscription screen only to find the monthly option missing. That meant starting again on the website (search: tractive plans) where the monthly was present.
There’s a few things worth noting before you sign up
- Have your dogs age handy
- Have your dogs weight
- Have your dogs height
These will all be needed to help set up the activity monitor feature.
Tractive GPS Dog Tracker App
Available for free on the iOS and Android store, once installed the app wizard will guide you through all the various steps. This will allow you to configure the app for your dogs needs as well as setup activity monitors, preferences, notifications and virtual fences.
Using the Tractive GPS Pet Tracker
Other than my initial frustrations with the signup, the tractive collar showed to be a reliable and robust little gadget. Its live and periodic tracking options meant a good balance of peace of mind combined with a much better battery life.
The device itself is fairly intuitive and once setup is ready to go.
The advertising points to the tractive being fitted to your dogs collar, however I also tested this on both Ruffwear and Mekuti dog harnesses and it fitted perfectly on the straps.
Setting up your requirements on the app was very straight forward. Once you allow for various permissions including bluetooth and location on your phone, the menu system will guide you through all the steps.
When out walking my dog, I was able to try out all the various features using my phone. They all performed as expected and I could not only track my dog live in the park but see detailed information about where he had been, where he had done the most exercise (running mainly) and get a good idea of his exertion and calorie burn.
I didn’t experience any issues with the reliability and connection of the GPS tracking, however online reviews have suggested in more rural locations (as with all data services) it can become spotty.
Overall, the tractive GPS pet tracker was simple to configure, reliable to use and a good addition to my dogs daily walking routine.
Tractive GPS Pet Tracker Review Summary
- A well made little gadget
- Robust, waterproof and shockproof
- Very affordable
- Live location
- Virtual fencing and activity monitor are nice features
- Depending on use, charge may only last 1-2 days
- GPS can be spotty in some places
- Subscription options can be a bit confusing
A nifty, feature rich and affordable dog GPS collar and activity monitor
Despite a few subscription fee confusions, the tractive GPS dog collar was a simple, robust and feature rich tracker and fitbit device.
Editor and Head Writer | K9Gadget Magazine
Having worked in the technology sector for many years – he now immerses himself in all things dogs. Writes about subjects ranging from dog food to canine psychology with a little bit of pup technology thrown in. He’s been writing for nearly 15 years on the topics he loves. Lives in London.
I was a long time user of another brand (and much more expensive)of collar. I just received this one. And it appeared to be just as good. The biggest difference is battery life. My old device would last about 3 weeks and this one is about a week.
Thanks for reading, Joseph! Yes, I’ve kept this one going as well – I wish the battery was a little longer but thankfully it’s fairly obvious when the battery is running low, which really helped.