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  • Writer's pictureSmart Bark

Is the Tractive GPS Tracker the Best Option for Keeping Your Dog Safe?

Updated: May 18

We asked for a Tractive Tracker for the purposes of this review - all thoughts are our own. Smart Bark is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.Learn more


If you enjoy long walks with your dog off lead or have a dog who's recall isn't quite what it should be, then a GPS Tracker for dogs could be a great investment.


Using a GPS Tracker fitted to your dog's collar can help make sure that your dog is safe at all times.


GPS Tracker for Dogs

The pet tracker market is booming with fitness and tracking devices relying on everything from Bluetooth to GPS, and even Radio Frequency technology.


Tractive is probably the best known and most trusted dog GPS tracker. The company was founded back in 2012 and now has over 270,000-plus users worldwide.


Our Tractive GPS Tracker for Dogs review is for anyone who wants an accomplished GPS Tracker without top-end subscription prices - it’s a strong performer, the design is lightweight and the app is easy to use.


In this review, you’ll be able to find out everything you need to know about the Tractive's GPS Tracker, from how GPS works, to our take on it's performance, design, app, activity monitoring, virtual fences and subscription plans.


We'll also take a look at how it measures up to other tracking tools like the Apple AirTag.

MARCH 2024 : UPDATE Tractive now offer an XL Tracker suitable for dogs over 22kg

TABLE OF CONTENTS


How does a GPS Dog Tracker Work ?


Before you read on, let's answer a quick question on how it works.


A GPS chip in the tracker reports your dog's position and sends the info to your smartphone (and the internet) via mobile coverage.


Tractive GPS Tracker for dogs with phone, ball and lead

The tracker automatically connects to the best available mobile network - just like a phone SIM - to provide location data everywhere your dog goes.


You simply attach the tracker to your dog's collar and download an app to your phone.


This enables you to view your dog's activities and pinpoint their location at all times. Very smart !



dog paw graphic


GPS Tracker for Dogs - Tractive Review


1. Tractive Review : Performance


We are going to be completely honest here, we've tested a variety of GPS dog trackers over the years and were somewhat dubious about their value as we've been unable to track our dog consistency living in a fairly rural location.


Many GPS trackers seem to offer lots of additional features (many of which we don't want or need), but struggle with the basic premise - Find my dog !


Clearly the core feature you should look for in a GPS tracker is the ability to live track your dog 24/7.


Not only should the technology work efficiently but the app needs to be intuitive and easy to use especially when you're searching for your dog in full panic mode!


So it's fair to say that we set about our Tractive GPS Tracker test with a slightly sceptical attitude.


Tractive Tracker  for dogs box, device and guide

The first thing to say, is that the tracker is light, weighing in at only 35 grams. It's also fairly sleek, fitting comfortably on your dog's collar. The new XL version is designed for larger dogs over 22kg and weghs 90 grams.


The strong rubber clip is secure and doesn't appear to rub or come loose.


It's worth noting that the device is 100% waterproof to protect it against the elements. So if your dog loves the water, it will stand up to some sub-aqua adventures.


Incredibly easy to set up, we used the enclosed Quick Start Guide and accompanying charging lead.


Simply charge the device, download the app and enter the tracker's code to connect them. It really is that easy.


When it comes to battery life, the Tractive tracker doesn't disappoint - incredibly long lasting, depending on usage, up to 7 days. The XL version can last up to 1 month.


The easy-to-use, smart app lets you to do lots of clever stuff, but let's start with the most important feature - could it track our dog ?


Tractive Dog tracker iphone screenshot

Well it's safe to say that we were astonished by how well the Tractive tracker was able to locate our dog in testing.


As many dog lovers know, our dogs can cover long distance in minutes and seem unable to hear us calling ! So it's incredibly easy to lose visual contact.


Being able to track them live, with position updates every few seconds, is essential to keeping them safe and sound.

The Tractive GPS tracker has two modes: Live and Default -

⭐️ In Live mode it detects a new position every 2-3 seconds

⭐️ In Default mode it detects a position every 2-60 minutes

In Live mode we could actually watch the blue line move as it pinpointed his location in real-time.


Default mode updates depending on your dog's activity level. So on a walk it will update more frequently than when your dog's lounging at home.


Back to the test ! We used the tracker on lots of different walks off the beaten track and the Tractive tracker was able to track Freddie throughout. If you have a dog that loves exploring off-lead, it would certainly make for a calmer more confident dog walk.


Iphone screenshot showing GPS find mode

The crucial point to make here, is that you do need cellular coverage. So if you live or walk in an area where your phone doesn't get great coverage, then the tracker is unlikely to either.


But if you are unsure, Tractive offer a 30 day money-back guarantee, so you could try the Tracker to make sure it has a strong connection where you live.


It's worth noting that in addition to the LIVE mode which updates every 2–3 seconds, the Tractive tracker also features an incredibly useful FIND mode.


FIND mode uses both an LED light and a buzzer sound emitted from the device on your dog's collar, to help you locate your dog in situations where they might not be immediately visible.


Additionally, the latest models of Tractive GPS trackers make use of your phone's Bluetooth proximity feature.


This can help you to locate your dog if they're hiding or in an area where GPS accuracy may be decreased such as around tall buildings, in forests, or bad weather.


So performance wise, it's fair to say that the Tractive Tracker is an impressive piece of kit and certainly offers peace of mind.


You may be interesting in our other reviews of dog walking essentials - Dog Walking Bags



2. Tractive Review : Features


Ok, that's the basics covered, now let's talk about what else the Tractive Tracker has to offer you.


Virtual Fence

If you are looking for even more peace of mind either at home or when out on a walk, you can set up a number of virtual fences. This allows you to determine safe areas for your dog and you receive a notification if your dog escapes.


GPS Tracker Virtual Fence warning on Apple Watch

Equally you could set up a 'no-go' area and receive notifications when your dog entered an area - this could be useful around large lakes etc.


Not only is this incredibly easy to set up, if you have some wearable tech like an Apple watch, the app even sends a real-time notification direct to your watch.


In testing, Tractive reliably sent a notification to my phone and watch every time Freddie exited and entered a Safe Zone ( approx. 2 minute delay).

Location History


Location History screenshot from Tractive Tracker for dogs

As the device uses GPS to can track your dog, you can see where your dog has been over the course of a day, week or month.


The History section of the app offers a trace option (the blue line) and a heat map so you can see at a glance their favourite spots over time. It's fascinating - almost looking at a walk through your dog's eyes!


Of course, we all have our favourite dog walks, but the history information is useful if you want to offer more variety. As Freddie has dog walks with several different family members every week, it was useful to see where he'd already been and then try to offer a new walk.



Activity Monitor


Whilst you can purchase specific activity monitors without GPS, several premium GPS trackers now include activity monitoring data as part of their package.


dog Activity Monitoring screenshot

The Tractive Tracker is no different and offers a health monitoring system so you can analyse just how active your dog has been. With pet obesity rates reaching around 60%, this feature offers a much-needed solution for those of you looking to keep your dog healthy.


You can use the tracker to monitor your dog's daily, weekly and monthly activity levels and their sleep cycle. With those of you familiar with the Apple Watches and Fitbit monitors, it offers similar information.


You can use this data to help you track and maintain their exercise and weight over time so you know they’re in tip top shape.


If you're competitive, you can also compare how active your dog is against other dogs in your community and even across the world. Did we mention you can earn awards too ?

You might be interested in.......

If you are simply looking for a device to monitor your dog's activity levels and not a GPS Tracker, then take a look at a Dog Activity Tracker which don't have a monthly subscription.

These amazing little devices are able to track your dog's steps, sleep and in some cases assess your dog's gait for more accurate step data. We tested three of the best activity monitors available in the UK - find out what we thought - Best Dog Activity Trackers : Fitbit for Dogs



3. Tractive Review : Additional Info


Subscription Plan


GPS devices like Tractive use mobile / cellular networks to send the GPS location of your dog to your smartphone. This does come at a price and like all GPS dog trackers, there is a small subscription fee to cover the cost of the embedded Sim.


Tractive covers the cost for data communication and only charges a flat subscription fee. This is between £4–£10 depending on how long you take out the subscription for.


Personally, we think that £4 a month is a small price to pay for peace of mind.


There are two plans to choose from - Basic and Premium. The Premium plan offers a couple of additional services - family and friends sharing and it works in over 175 countries worldwide so worth considering if you love to travel.


Family & Friends Sharing


We really enjoyed the apps various social features. With both the Basic and Premium plans, you can invite family and friends to download and use the app linked to your device, so anyone walking your dog can benefit from the GPS tracker.


Screenshot shared of dog walk with Tractive GPS Tracker

Additionally, if you opt for the premium plan, you can share your dog walk in real time with your friends and amazingly they don't even need the app. You can use WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, whichever social media app you love, to share direct with friends.


Once shared, your friends will receive a link where they can view your dog walk in real time. They'll see your path and any photos you share along the way!


Tractive Tracker Specification


Small & lightweight - weighs 35g

Recommended for dogs above 4kg

Up to 7 days battery life (depends on usage)

Power Saving Zone option at home to maximise battery life

IPX7 waterproof and shock resistant

Premium plan offer GPS tracking in 175 countries

Subscriptions can be cancelled at any time

30 days money back guarantee

Available in several different colours



dog paw graphic


Our Verdict


What's undeniable is that the Tractive Tracker is an accomplished GPS dog tracking device that doesn't cost an eye-watering amount of money.


It does need cellular network coverage to work, but with a 30 day money back guarantee, you have the option to buy and test it works where you live and walk.


Tractive Tracker GPS for peace of mind

The app was intuitive, easy to set up and a breeze to use. Headline features of the Basic subscription package include live tracking, option to add virtual fences (with escape alerts), activity monitoring and location history.


There is the monthly subscription plan to consider, but this is more affordable than many competitors.


We really like that the Basic subscription including live location, activity and sleep monitoring is more affordable than its competitors.


We recommend Tractive Tracker for Dogs if you're looking for top quality GPS tracking at a very reasonable price. But don't just take our word for it. It has received over 80% 4 & 5 ⭐️ Amazon reviews.


Pros

+ Solid GPS location performance

+ LIVE mode ( 2–3 sec updates)

+ FIND mode

+ Amazing battery life

+ Option to set virtual fences

+ Activity monitoring

+ 30 day money back guarantee

   + XL version available


Cons

- It needs cellular network coverage

- Not suitable for dogs under 4kg

- Subscription costs


Buying Options



dog paw graphic


The Rivals



Other GPS Trackers


If you're not convinced by the Tractive tracker, let's take a look at some of the alternatives on offer.

Our Best GPS Tracker for Dogs Review compares 4 premium Trackers - Pitpat, Pawfit, Weenect and of course the Tractive Tracker.

Dog wearing a GPS collar

The article explores the accuracy, features and costs of these well known trackers. We fully test all four trackers over several months, so can honestly offer the pros and cons of each option, so you can decide which is best for you and of course your dog.




Activity Trackers


If you are simply looking for a device to monitor your dog's activity levels and not a GPS Tracker, then take a look at a Dog Activity Tracker which don't come with a monthly subscription.


Activity tracker on dog collar

These amazing little devices, a bit like Fitbits for dogs, are able to track your dog's steps, sleep and health. We test three of the best activity monitors available in the UK - PitPat, PoochPlay and FitBark.



Apple AirTag


Apple AirTags offer an alternative for tracking your dog.


Whilst they're designed to track your possessions like keys, wallet or handbag, they can easily be attached to your dog's collar.


Apple AirTag on dog lead

That said, there are some major drawbacks that you definitely need to be aware of before relying solely on an AirTag for peace of mind.


We take a look at the pros & cons of using an Apple AirTag to track your dog and explore some suitable AirTag holders.




 

Considering a pet security camera ?

They're a great idea with new puppies so you can see what's going on when you're not there. They can offer you peace of mind that your pup is settled and relaxed.


If you have a new puppy, they also let you ensure that they aren't chewing your furniture or getting into dangerous situations whilst you're not in the room.



 

dog paw graphic


Thanks for stopping by and reading our GPS Tracker for Dogs - Tractive Review.

We hope you enjoyed reading it as much as we enjoyed testing it.



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