“…strengthen the bond between pets and their owners by leveraging technology to ensure a healthier, longer and safer life together.”
… but is Tractive the best GPS Tracker for you and your beloved pet? Let’s break it down.
- Main Features: GPS Tracking, GeoFencing (Virtual Fence), 100% Waterproof
- Suitable For: Dogs and larger cats over 4.5kg. Outdoor, long distance tracking. Great for dogs who run off-leash or who tend to ‘escape’.
- Technology Used: GPS for collar unit, 3G or 4G to access app via smartphone, and internet to receive push notifications for Virtual Fence feature.
- Weight: 35g (1.2 oz)
- Range: Unlimited, providing GPS and cellular signal are available.
- Battery Life: 2 to 5 days depending on usage. Unit should be recharged after walks, ideally each night. 2 hours to maximum charge.
- Price: Packages start at £39.99/$55.47 with £4.45/$5 monthly fee
The Tractive tracker is a GPS unit that clips onto your existing pets collar. You will receive the GPS unit, collar clips, user manual and charger.
Tractive can sent alerts to you when certain events happen, so you will need a smartphone to receive these and to download the app, however you are able to track your pet from your smartphone or any browser.
How Does it Work?
The unit clips onto your existing pet’s collar, and receives geolocation information from satellites orbiting the Earth.
Normal Mode: This is the default mode. The collar unit sends information about its location to the receiver, which is the app you downloaded from the app store. Signals are automatically sent every 3 minutes, so in normal mode, you can look at the app and see the last known location of your pet on a map, determined by the last signal received from the GPS unit.
Live Mode: This mode works the same as above, except you can request live data… that is, you can see the real time location of your pet on a map, as they move or run around.
The reason for the two different modes is that ‘Live’ Tracking uses a great deal more battery power, and as such, would only be turned on when needed.
Geo-Fencing (Virtual Fence)
A Virtual Fence, is an area you personally define on a map. It must me a minimum of 50m, and can be either a round or rectangular shape. You can draw or design this area within the app, or on your desktop. When your pet leaves this predefined area, you will receive a push notification to your smartphone alerting you. Email notifications can also be set up for this feature.
You can set up multiple virtual fences, for example one for home, one for the park, one for your regular off-leash walk. The fences can easily be moved or changed, so can be done on the fly.
- The Tractive tracker works well, but is held to ransom by the strength of the signal that both the GPS collar unit, and your smartphone receive. GPS works best when there is a clear line of sight between the unit and the satellites, so if your dog is underground, in a heavily wooded area, or even if it is a heavily clouded day, the GPS unit may have trouble receiving signal. Similarly, you need to be able to access the app with your smartphone, so if you are in an area that has weak cell phone reception, even if the GPS unit has a strong signal, if your smartphone does not, then you cannot receive the information the GPS unit is sending. Again, if you do not have internet signal, you will be unable to receive the push notifications that your pet has left the Virtual Fence area. This issue with signal strength is not a fault of the Tractive tracker. This is simply the nature of the way GPS, internet and cellular data works, and any GPS tracker will feature this same limitation.
- The battery life of the Tractive is limited, to say the least. This is because the tracker is working constantly, sending and receiving signals, which it needs to do in order to always be able to provide you with the most up to date information. For best performance, I would recommend making it a habit to put the device on its charger each night, as you would your phone to ensure that the unit is always at optimal performance. Perhaps in future versions, Tractive will be able to improve battery life, without compromising on size.
- The collar clips, although sturdy will become weak with time and may cause the unit to detach from the collar. Additional collar clips are available for purchase from the Tractive website. ‘Tractive GPS Dog’, a new product due to be released later in 2018, is understood to have addressed this issue with a new clipping mechanism.
- Although promoted for both Dogs and Cats, it is worth noting the weight recommendations for the Tractive collar unit. The collar unit comes in at 35g and is the size of a matchbox. For most dogs, this will be no problem, but for toy or miniature dog breeds and for smaller cats, this may be to large or heavy, and may restrict movement. Tractive recommend the unit for use on pets weighing over 4.5kg. Over the next few months, Tractive are to release a new product, ‘Tractive GPS Cats’ which has been designed especially for cats and smaller dogs with the GPS technology integrated into its own sleek designed collar – so if this is you, it may be worth waiting for this product release.
- You can test how well your toy dog or smaller cat will respond to wearing the unit by placing a number of coins, weighing 35g into a matchbox and taping the matchbox to your pets collar. Some pets may naturally take a while to get used to the device, but what you are looking for is to see if the unit weighs your pet’s head down, or restricts movement in any way.
- At 100% waterproof, the unit is very robust and can take a beating.
- The collar unit comes in a variety of colors, to suit your pets personality
- The Virtual Fence feature is not available with all GPS tracker manufacturers, and can be extremely useful if you have a pet that tends to roam.
- Although battery life may be limited, there is a built in indicator to alert you when the battery does get low, so there is no reason to ever end up with a flat battery.an enhanced customer care and warranty program are available.
- Customer Service are attentive and available. Faulty products will be replaced with no issue.
- A selection of add-on products, including an enhanced customer care and warranty program are available.
Final Words on Tractive
Tractive does what it says on the tin. It will locate your pet, in real time, and will alert you when your pet leaves a predefined area. It’s not overloaded with excessive and unnecessary features, and its pretty easy to use. If you have ever used Google maps or another GPS unit to find directions somewhere, you will have no problem using this device.
Customer service seem to be always available to help if you have any issues, either with initial set-up or ongoing usage of the device, however this may not even be necessary, as the Tractive website is extremely helpful and informative and should be able to answer any queries you might have.
The price may seem high, however when compared with other similar products, is actually quite reasonable, with some GPS tracking devices coming in at hundreds of pounds or dollars, and with only a very small monthly cost, works out at a small price to pay for such robust peace of mind. The limitations of the Tractive unit cannot be avoided, the signal issue is the same with any GPS device, and you really should check signal strength in your area before deciding on any GPS tracker – there are other alternatives available if you live in an area with a weak signal. I feel that Tractive have made a decent compromise between battery life and size/weight, a larger battery with a longer life would probably be too bulky for the majority of pets.
I hope this review helps you with your research into GPS Pet Trackers! If you have any questions about this product, or would like to share your experiences with Tractive, please feel free to reach out and comment below…
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