3 Reasons to Buy a Smart Collar For Your Dog Today

Written by Courtney Wennerstrom
Updated: July 24, 2023
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Identification of a lost animal with the help of the latest technology and the Internet. Collar with a QR chip with information about the owners and mobile phone. A little cute puppy

When it comes to helping pet parents keep track of their kids, technology can be a blessing and a curse. Review the features and functionality – as well as the pros and cons – before choosing a smart collar.

©Olezzo/Shutterstock.com

Despite their cute name, smart dog collars are not just tech-savvy fashion accessories for your brainy canine companion (although there is no doubt about your dog’s remarkable intellect). Instead, these clever devices provide a variety of location and health tracking functions that far exceed the capabilities of a regular collar and tag. There are at least 3 reasons to buy a smart collar for your dog today. But you will need to carefully consider the pros and cons of doing so.

To decide if a smart collar is right for you and your dog, you need to understand exactly what you are hoping to accomplish by purchasing one. Then do your research. There are wide range of collars with various features – all of which have significant benefits and obstacles – and prices can vary drastically. Since smart collars can also be susceptible to the limitations of technology, they may not always perform the way you might hope. It is best to thoughtfully consider the advantages and drawbacks before investing in one of these gadgets – especially as they can be quite expensive. There is a handy chart at the bottom of this article to help you make an informed decision.

If you are considering a smart collar, here are the top 3 really cool things they can do for you and your canine BFF.

1. GPS Tracking

Our super speedy dogs can easily outrun us – giving us serious anxiety when they are out of sight! One popular reason to buy a smart collar for your dog is to keep tabs on their whereabouts. By incorporating global positioning system (GPS) technology, many smart collars enable precise real-time location tracking for active pups. Whew! What incredible peace of mind for anyone whose dogs obsessively follow their noses for miles to the source of an intriguing scent, are escape artists, or who simply have a tendency to roam far and wide.

By aiding in the swift retrieval of our wandering dogs, smart collars offer valuable assistance in safeguarding our beloved pets from potential dangers such as getting hit by cars, getting lost in the woods, and encountering other hazards. Tracking collars can also be particularly useful for travel, outdoor adventures, and during fireworks season – when many otherwise well-behaved dogs flee their homes in fear. On that note, here are some tips to keep dogs calm and prevent them from running way in the first place.

The challenge of using GPS technology to locate our dogs is that it can actually be quite delicate. GPS reliability depends on the reception of signals from a minimum of four satellites to ensure accurate positioning. If the connection to all four satellites cannot be established or is lost – particularly in remote areas – the accuracy can be compromised. Things as simple as tall walls, trees, and skyscrapers can obstruct these signals. Additionally, extreme weather conditions, such as storms, can also lead to disruptions in the GPS functionality. This means that a GPS smart collar can fail just when you need it the most.

Still, the benefits can be phenomenal. Amazon customers give the highest ratings to Tractive GPS Tracker:

tractive GPS Tracker for Dogs -
  • LOCATION HISTORY AND REAL-TIME TRACKING: Keep track of your dog's real-time location on your phone and review their location history with this dog GPS tracker, providing you with insights into their daily adventures. Works in 175+ countries.
  • VIRTUAL FENCING: Define safe zones, like your garden, and receive instant notifications when your dog enters or leaves these designated areas, ensuring their safety at all times.
  • ALL-DAY ACTIVITY MONITORING: Monitor your dog's active time, rest periods, and calories burned, enabling you to set fitness goals and keep your furry friend in excellent shape with the help of the dog tracker collar attachment featuring GPS.
  • WATERPROOF AND LIGHTWEIGHT: Designed to withstand any adventure, the Tractive GPS attachment is small, lightweight, and completely waterproof, allowing your dog to run through forests, roll in mud, or take a dip in the lake worry-free.


Check Amazon

2. Health and Activity Monitoring

Happy rottweiler puppy running and playing on a beach at sunset. Cute little dog jumping and splashing water. Sand play.

Smart collars with fitness tracking technology can monitor your dog’s activity levels, including sleep and calories burned, and even read their vital signs.

©Donamen/Shutterstock.com

Another fascinating category of smart collars designed to satisfy our parental curiosity is the canine version of a Fitbit. These high-tech collars provide a wealth of information about our beloved canines’ overall health and well-being. Equipped with advanced sensors, they meticulously track our dogs’ daily activity levels, similar to how we monitor our daily steps. But these collars even give insights into the distance they cover, how many calories they have burned, fluctuations in heart rate, and measure other vital signs. They can even show changes in sleep patterns, giving us a better understanding or our furry friends’ health.

However, it’s essential not to rely solely on a smart collar for monitoring your dog’s vitality. Collars can’t replace veterinarians, after all, and may potentially create a false sense of security, leading to complacency and neglect in seeking routine preventative professional veterinary care. Instead, it is advisable to collaborate with your veterinarian who can appropriately monitor and care for your dogs overall health and well-being, and explain how to best use these collars to your advantage.

For this category, the Tractive GPS Tracker listed above also gets very high ratings.

3. Boundary Reinforcement/Virtual Fencing

A third reason to buy a smart collar for your dog today is to take advantage of portable boundary technology. Adventurous pet parents who travel with their dogs often appreciate the ability to contain them without the limitations of traditional physical borders. Because fences are not movable, collars with advanced GPS and wireless communication create customizable virtual boundaries that do the same job: keeping pets out of harm’s way! And although smart collars with boundary reinforcement can be expensive, they are often less expensive than actual fencing, making them an option to use at home as well. Of course, there are pros and cons to consider with using electric fencing for dogs as well, particularly in a permanent capacity.

For travel, the key advantage of smart collars with portable boundaries is their flexibility. Pet parents can define containment areas even while they are camping, visiting friends, or going on a road trip. This portability ensures that your pet stays secure and close by, no matter where you are in the world. Safety is a top priority, and smart collars address this concern effectively. You can even receive real-time alerts on your smartphones if your pet crosses the virtual boundary you have established.

Amazon users have mixed reviews about the HaloCollar 2+, but it does not shock your dog when teaching them boundaries, which is super important:

Halo Collar 2+ (Medium, Graphite) - Wireless Dog Fence, GPS Tracking & Training Collar
  • Monthly Plan Required: Enable data storage, location services, and essential safety features with a monthly plan. Choose from affordable options starting at $5.99, $9.99, or $29.99.
  • No More In-Ground Fences: Create up to 20 wireless fences without underground wires or complex installations. Halo's patented GPS technology works even in areas without Wi-Fi or cellular connection.
  • Safety and Peace of Mind: Prioritize safety with Halo's GPS technology that keeps you informed of your dog's location anytime, anywhere. The smart collar is waterproof, ensuring your pet's safety even during water activities.
  • Real-Time GPS Location & Activity Tracker: Stay updated on your pet's activities with daily, weekly, and monthly activity charts. Track your dog's real-time location using the Halo Collar app.
  • Easy Setup, No Installation Needed: Instantly create a virtual wireless dog fence in the Halo Collar app with no wires, digging, or property damage required. It's a hassle-free solution.
  • Cesar Millan's Training Program: The Halo Collar includes a smart training program designed by Cesar Millan. Train your dog safely with positive associations and customizable feedback, all without shocks.
  • The Halo Collar Difference: Trusted by over 130,000 dogs of 350+ breeds, the Halo Collar is a proven system that provides safety and freedom to dogs of all ages, breeds, and owners.


Check Amazon

Note: As you can see, many smart collars perform multiple functions and may have all of the features you want and need in one single device!

Caveat: Smart Collars are No Substitute for Proper Training

There is a misnomer that smart collars substitute for proper training techniques and human interaction. This could not be farther from the truth. I know the word training has a tedious connotation – and sounds like a lot of hard, boring labor. In reality, however, this concept simply means sharing quality time with your pup and teaching them amazing new skills that increase their confidence. Showing your dog how to solve challenges; modeling healthy ways of interacting with others; reassuring them that they can be alone or more independent; or instructing them to perform tricks are all beautiful ways to bond with your dog!

Training also teaches you a ton about who your pet really is – revealing their preferences, fears, and likes – all while bringing you closer together in partnership. No amount of technology can replace this one-on-one time. Collars can be useful tools, but they can and should not stand in for your attention or affection. To get started on a training regimen, here are a few helpful tips for teaching your dog basic commands, such as how to sit, walk on a leash, and stop barking.

Finally, be mindful that not all training techniques are effective or humane. For example, studies have revealed that aversive training methods – meaning those that use punishment or cause fear, pain, or stress – have detrimental effects. Not only do they compromise our dogs’ well-being, but they can also exacerbate undesirable behaviors. Prioritize positive training methods that reward good behavior and promote the overall happiness of your dog. Avoid collars that shock or scare as they will do more harm than good.

Finally, You Still Need to Microchip Your Dog

Husky Microchip check by Vet Doctor

Because smart collars can break or fall off, it is always best to microchip your dog as a back up method of identification. This acts as your dog’s permanent ID, so pet professionals can scan the microchip to find your information should they ever find your lost dog.

©Migle Narbutaite/Shutterstock.com

Since we are discussing collars, here is one last note about how to safeguard your dog should they ever get lost. Did you know that approximately 1 in 3 pets will go missing at some point in their lives? This is a concerning statistic, right? That’s why it’s crucial to ensure your pet’s safety by microchipping them, regardless of the type of collar you use.

Microchips are tiny devices, about the size of a grain of rice, that veterinarians insert under your pet’s skin, typically between the shoulder blades. These chips work as radio transponders, carrying a unique 9, 10, or 15-digit identification number that can be read by a microchip scanner. The number is linked to your contact information through online registration, making it possible for pet professionals like animal control officers and veterinarians to reunite you with your beloved furry friend if they ever end up in an animal shelter or veterinarian’s office.

While smart collars can offer some impressive features, any collar attached to your dog’s neck can potentially come loose, break, or fall off. That’s why microchipping is essential and keeping your registration information up-to-date is so important. It ensures a reliable and permanent form of identification for your pet, providing peace of mind in case they ever wander off or get lost. Read more about how to keep your dog’s microchip registration up to date.

Pros and Cons of Smart Collars for Dogs

Smart Collar ConsExplanationSmart Collar ProsExplanation
ExpensiveCan range from $80-over $1,000Fitness and Health TrackingCan monitor your dog’s play, rest and sleeping time; how far they have traveled in a day; and how many calories they have burned. Some can even measure your dog’s heart rate and other vital signs.
Technology Can FailGPS, Bluetooth, and Cell Service can be spotty or inaccurate.GPS Location MonitoringTrack your dogs if they stray too far or are out of your sight.
Can Break or Fall OffAlways microchip your dog so they have a permanent ID.Boundary Reinforcement/ Virtual FencingAllow you to travel and still keep your dog contained to a specific area that you establish.
Will Not Replace Proper TrainingSmart collars are no match for the human-animal bond – and dogs still need to learn basic commands from their people.
Can Use Aversive Methods – including electric shocks – which cause pain, stress, or fearAvoid using any collars that shock your dog as non-aversive training methods are always preferred.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/Chalabala

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About the Author

Courtney Wennerstrom is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on pet wellness and the human-animal bond. As an animal welfare professional, Courtney has been writing and researching about animals for over a decade and holds an PhD (ABD) in English from Indiana University, Bloomington, where she taught for 15 years. A resident of Colorado, Courtney loves to hike, travel, and read. She finds inspiration from her rescued huskies, Sasha and Saint, and her beloved rescued cat, Mojo.

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