What Is the Tractive Dog GPS Tracker? How Does It Work?
The Tractive Dog GPS Tracker is a small device that’s attached to your dog’s collar, working as both a GPS receiver and a mobile phone to transmit your dog’s location and let you see it in real-time in the app on your phone.
Tractive devices have a 7-day battery life and the tracking unit is waterproof, built to withstand your dog’s active lifestyle (being bumped and banged during adventures won’t damage it!), and very light. My dog doesn’t even notice when it’s on her collar.
The cellular connection the device uses to transmit location data to the app requires a monthly subscription. Effectively, Tractive pays cell phone providers for a low-use data connection to make the device work. The cost isn’t terrible, and pricing is tiered – if you pay monthly, it’s more expensive, and if you pay for a year or two years of connectivity, it’s less expensive.
My Real-time Experience with the Tractive GPS
Tractive sent me a white model that came pre-charged for review. During my research, I saw multiple reviewers online complain about this subscription fee, but it isn’t terribly expensive and there’s no realistic way to make a device like this work without a cell connection.
These trackers are great for anyone who is afraid of losing their dog or curious to know where their dog goes and what adventures they’re having. If your pup tends to tear out the door every chance he or she gets, consider putting one of these on them, instead of having to wait at home for hours until a neighbor calls to say he’s in their flower bed again. Tractive helps you find him quickly using your phone to see live location data that updates every few seconds.
If you live out in the country (like I do) or you’re just curious about where your dog goes every day, you’ll love the heatmap feature that shows where your dog has been over the past several days. Each place your dog has spent the most time glows brighter red, showing the increased time spent.
Where To Get Tractive GPS Dog Trackers
From Tractive! Major online retailers also sell Tractive, but Tractive has a modern website that is easy and simple to navigate and the buying process appears to be simple and straightforward. Simply navigate to their website, click “Products” and then select the button for either dog trackers or cat trackers – other than accessories Tractive only makes 2 products, so after picking the right type for your animal it’s just a matter of picking your favorite color and maybe buying a couple extra covers for festive occasions!
Tractive GPS Dog Tracker – A Quick Look
Tractive GPS Dog Tracker Pricing
Tractive prices their products reasonably when compared to competing products. Tractive is one of the leading brands in this field, and as of the time of this review they’ve priced their trackers for around $50 normal price—on sale for $30. As of the time of this writing, one of the only competing products for a similar price point is an Apple AirTag. The other pet-specific trackers are up to three times the price!
What to Expect From The Tractive GPS Dog Tracker
The tracker arrives in an attractive, well-packed cardboard box in a water-resistant sleeve. Upon opening, you see the tracker, the proprietary USB charge cable (no charger is included), a quick start guide, and a really handy series of graphics on the underside of the box top. These diagrams are all you need to get your device up and going! Once you get to the part with the app, it will tell you how to do the rest.
Tractive GPS Dog Tracker Box Contents
The Tractive tracker and the rubber bracket used to hold it on your dog’s existing collar are quite sturdy. If your dog wears a very large collar you might consider getting a larger bracket off the website. A 3-pack costs around $7 as of the time of this review.
Location accuracy is quite good. I watched my dog out in the back field and matched the location on the map to what I was seeing with my own eyes. I guesstimate the app was accurate to within 2-3 feet. If I looked away and my dog moved, I could almost look directly at my dog by checking the map first. I did have some issues with the app not updating for a few minutes here and there, but that’s because my dog was walking through small “dead zones” and the app couldn’t get a cell signal out. Such are the joys of living in backwoods America.
Tractive trackers don’t offer a lot of variety in devices – you only need one kind of tracker, one that works! That said, they do offer some pretty cool covers for their trackers. Scrolling through the list, I could pick an American flag, a couple camo covers, and a few more options.
Ease of Use
Set up and use of these trackers are great. I did it using the app on my iPhone, but you can also use the website. You need to charge the device before setup, but once you’ve done that and downloaded the app, the time from start to seeing the tracker pop up on the map is 5 minutes, tops.
Battery life is dependent on how much you use the LIVE feature. The more you use it, the less battery you have. I wasn’t a tremendous fan of the way the charge cable snaps on to the unit, or that a proprietary charge cable is required, but it’s easy enough once you figure it out and I believe it probably does make the unit more waterproof to not have a hole for a standard charge cable!
The app is clean, well-designed, and easy to navigate. I did not find myself struggling to do anything in the app, and I didn’t find any points in the process where I needed to consult a manual, help file, or the website.
I have reviewed two Tractive trackers – one for cats, and this one for dogs. When I reviewed the tracker for cats a few months ago, I rated their support service lower than any other part of the experience. This was because when I put in a test ticket, the website told me I’d have to wait days for a response! Not good!
But this time around when I put in a test ticket, I received a response the very next business day from a real human being. The website no longer has the messages about having to wait multiple days.
I’ve owned hundreds of products in my life and written in depth reviews for dozens of them. In those experiences, I have never found a perfect company – only those with the integrity to admit they can do better and do it, and those that don’t. Tractive’s actions show integrity and concern for their customers. I’m happy to recommend their service as highly as I recommend their product this time around!
Is The Tractive GPS Dog Tracker a Good Value?
The value of the Tractive GPS Dog Tracker is in the eye of the pet owner. If you know a GPS tracker is going to help you with your pet, then the Tractive is a fantastic, cost-effective option. If you aren’t sure, then rely on their 30-day money back guarantee on the subscription cost and give it a try for a few days!
- Related Read: Does a GPS Implant for Dogs Exist?
How long does the battery last?
According to Tractive, the battery has a 7-day life span. That said, the use of LIVE mode causes the tracker to ping the app far more often than normal, which expends the battery faster, leading to a shorter charge time.
How good is the cellular connection?
In my experience it’s pretty good, and I live way out in the country. Tractive states that the SIM card in the device is good in nearly 200 countries and it needs very little data to get a location sent – a cell connection that’s way too spotty for you to stream Netflix will still work well for this collar. Tractive collars are active on ATT, Verizon, T-Mobile, and other cell networks. If you can make a phone call from a location, it can report your dog from that location.
Is the tracker sturdy?
In my experience the tracker is quite robust. I put one on a large cattle dog that spends time guarding a herd and chasing down predators in woods and fields. The collar came through fine. My guess is anything that happens to a pet (as opposed to a working dog) would be far less of an issue for the collar to survive.
Does everything I need come in the box?
You will need a USB cell phone charger. Any model should do. The tracker only comes with a cable. Whatever you use to charge your cell phone should be fine.
Does the tracker have a maximum range?
No! That’s part of the beauty of a cellular tracker. It reports your dog’s location based on cell towers, not how close it is to your phone. If, God forbid, your dog were to travel across a couple states and still have the tracker on with good battery life, you’d see it just as well on the app as if your dog were in the front yard.
Can I use geofencing and set up alerts if my dog leaves that zone?
The only issue I experienced with this is that my dog is huge and a fast mover – the tracker only reports every so often and sometimes Duke would get far enough away fast enough that by the time I got a report he was over a thousand feet outside the fence. For smaller dogs that can’t move that fast this will be less of an issue.
How many trackers can I have on one subscription?
You can have multiple trackers on one account, but each one requires its own subscription. Think about it like cell phones. A family plan can have more than one phone, but each phone requires paying a subscription fee for its own “line.” These trackers work the same way.
Our Experience With Tractive GPS Dog Tracker
The tracker came well-packaged in a small cardboard box. It’s difficult to see how it would easily get damaged in shipping. The graphics made setup easy, but there is a quick start guide as well as a full manual included.
To set up the tracker, you download Tractive’s app, create an account, and follow the on screen guide. It tells you how to turn on the tracker and pair it with the app. The process is easy and very short, taking no more than 5 minutes.
When I attached the tracker to my dog, they didn’t appear to notice or care it was there (other than enjoying the attention!). The weight, shape, and size are very dog friendly.
Tracking my dog was a breeze. The tracker showed up on the map in the app immediately and I was able to see my dog moving easily. The heatmap works as expected.
Battery life was a little shorter than listed, but I used LIVE mode during testing, which spent the battery earlier than it would have otherwise. The tracker is easy to disconnect from the collar and clip on to the included charge cable. The tracker does not come with a wall charger, but it charged fine with the several models I tested it with (Samsung, Apple, Anker, and a few generic chargers from much cheaper products).
As mentioned earlier, I did file a test support ticket – something I do with any product I review that might need support. I explained in the ticket that I was unable to set up my device and needed help to get started using it. This was untrue, of course, but some users may need help right away and I wanted to know if Tractive stood behind their product. A representative reached out to me the very next business day and asked if she could help solve my problem. I found this to be prompt, useful service.
Tractive is an honest, responsive company offering a GPS pet tracker at a much better price point than any of their competition – including the affordability of the subscription data service. If you are a pet owner that would benefit from having a small, sturdy, easy-to-use GPS tracker on your pet, look no further than Tractive.