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Bluetooth vs GPS trackers for dogs

Have you ever thought about buying a GPS tracker for your dog? Whether it’s for peace of mind while you practice their recall, you want to give them the freedom to explore on their walks, or you want to be prepared for any situation that might cause them to run off, you’ll have probably noticed that there are two main types; Bluetooth and GPS. But how are they different, and which type is best?

What’s a Bluetooth tracker?

Like an Apple AirTag, a Bluetooth tracker is a small, lightweight device that uses Bluetooth technology to connect to your smartphone or another Bluetooth-enabled device within a limited range. They often help you locate your keys, wallet or other personal items.

How do Bluetooth trackers work?

Once you have paired your phone to the tracker, they establish a wireless connection between the tracker and your phone via an app. So, if you attach one to your dog’s collar, you should be able to locate them quickly if they’re close by but out of sight.

It’s worth noting that Bluetooth trackers are not specifically designed for tracking dogs as they have a limited range and don’t use GPS technology. This is precisely what we found when we experimented to see if you could use an AirTag to track your dog.

What are the advantages of Bluetooth trackers?

Bluetooth trackers may not be the perfect option for tracking your dog, but there are some advantages.

They’re cost-effective. Bluetooth trackers cost less than GPS trackers and don’t require ongoing subscription costs. (Although we’ll let you in on a secret, you won’t pay a subscription to find your dog using a PitPat Dog GPS Tracker either).

Their battery life is longer. As Bluetooth trackers operate over shorter distances, they often have a longer battery life than GPS trackers, and you won’t need to charge them as frequently.

They’re compact and lightweight. So if you’re thinking of using one for your dog, it won’t add too much weight or bulk to their collar.

What are the limitations of Bluetooth trackers?

They have a limited range. This means they’re most effective when only a few metres from your smartphone, which might work well for finding your car keys but less so when trying to find your dog.

They may rely on other users. Some Bluetooth trackers, like AirTags, rely on a crowdsourcing feature where other users’ phones can help you detect what you’re looking for. However, this depends on a network of users with compatible devices nearby, so this may only be effective if you’re in a more populated area.

They’re designed for tracking items, not dogs. Ultimately Bluetooth trackers have been created to find lost items, not dogs. This means they’re missing features that dog owners might find helpful, like live tracking or activity monitoring.

What’s a GPS tracker?

GPS trackers utilise the Global Positioning System, which can tell you an item’s exact location on the Earth.

How do GPS trackers work?

GPS trackers use satellite technology to pinpoint locations accurately. These trackers have GPS receivers that receive signals from satellites orbiting the Earth. The tracker then relays the location information to your smartphone through cellular networks or to a dedicated app on your phone, allowing you to track it in real-time.

What are the advantages of GPS trackers?

They track accurately. GPS trackers provide precise location information, usually within a few metres. This makes them more effective than Bluetooth trackers for tracking your dog, especially if they like to explore.

They have a wide range. Unlike Bluetooth trackers, GPS trackers can provide tracking functionality regardless of the distance between you and the tracker. So as long as the tracker and your phone cellular coverage, you can monitor your dog’s whereabouts from anywhere.

They don’t rely on other people. Unlike Apple AirTags that need you or another person’s phone to be close by, GPS trackers maintain their own connection through a mobile network. That means that if you’re using one on your dog, they don’t have to be close to another human to be found.

What are the limitations of GPS Trackers?

They’re more expensive. GPS trackers cost more than Bluetooth trackers and often come with the added cost of a subscription attached. This is because their built-in SIM cards require a data plan in the mobile networks they use (unless, of course, you’re using a PitPat GPS, because we pay the data costs for you).

They have a shorter battery life. Communicating via a mobile network uses more power than Bluetooth and so, just like your phone, GPS trackers can need charging more frequently.

They can be bigger and heavier. This is a consideration if you want to use a GPS tracker for your dog. After all, you don’t want it to be uncomfortable for them. It’s worth looking into different options, though, as not all GPS trackers are equal. The PitPat GPS, for example, is only 18mm thick and weighs just 30g. That’s small enough and light enough that most dogs won’t notice it.

Which type of tracker is best for my dog?

Before deciding on which tracker you’ll get, think about your specific requirements and your dog’s behaviour when out on walks. If they stay in close range, then a Bluetooth tracker is a cost-effective and practical choice. On the other hand, if your dog is an avid explorer and likes adventures, GPS tracking accuracy and long-range tracking capabilities might be more suitable. It’s also worth remembering that even if your dog is unlikely to roam and has fantastic recall, there’s no guarantee that their walking environment will always be the same, and things don’t always go to plan.

And if you’re still uncertain, why not start with a PitPat Dog GPS Tracker? We have a 21-day no-quibble returns policy. So you can give it a go, and if it’s not right for you, return it, no questions asked. Simple.

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