In my first blog post I reviewed the five basic types of e-collars available at Lion Country Supply, and in the second blog post I reviewed selecting the best training e-collar for your dog. Today I continue this e-collar series with a post about tracking e-collars, considered by many to be the ultimate in the entire e-collar line up.
Tracking far ranging dogs is where tracking e-collars are most useful. Operating on GPS technology, the tracking e-collar gives the handler information on the dog’s position at that exact moment, and it also tells the handler where the dog has been. This type of collar is useful for tracking hunting dogs, field trials, search and rescue dogs, and other applications where great distance can become between the dog and handler.
Track and Train E-collars
Track and train e-collars have the combined features of GPS tracking with stimulation features. If you want the ability to track your far ranging dogs in the field, and you want the ability to manage your dog’s behavior with stimulation, vibration and tone, then you should be looking at track and train e-collar.
Tracking E-collar Models
Moving into the tracking e-collar category your cost increases significantly compared to the basic training e-collars, but so do the features and the performance. Below are a few tracking e-collars manufactured by SportDOG and Garmin.
SportDOG Brand™ E-collars
The SportDOG™ TEK 1.0 e-collar is available in both a tracking version and a track and train version. The tracking version begins around $399 and has the ability to track your dog up to 7 miles. It is meant for people who already have a trainer collar. The SportDOG™ TEK 1.0LT comes with both track and train features and begins at $499. The features include seven mile range, 99 levels of stimulation, tracking up to 12 dogs, vibration and tone, and a waterproof design submersible up to 25 feet.
The SportDOG™ TEK 2.0 is an advanced version of the SportDOG™ TEK 1.0 and it’s available in the tracker version and track and train versions. The features include a tracking range up to 10 miles, 99 levels of stimulation, tracking up to 21 dog collars or handheld units, and the collar is submersible up to 25 feet. It also has unlimited lifetime GPS map updates to keep your handheld updated with the latest information. This unit comes preloaded with full-color topo maps and provides audio feedback on tracking locations. The TEK 2.0 LT is my favorite of the track and train e-collars because I went through an actual hands-on tutorial with the SportDOG reps which gave me a better understanding of the system. The SportDOG TEK 2.0 L tracker begins at $649 and the SportDOG TEK 2.0 LT track and train system begins at $799.
Not to be overlooked, the Garmin Astro 320/T5 Bundle and the Garmin Astro 320/T5 Mini Bundle are part of Garmin’s line up of tracking collars. The T5 collar is a tracking only collar used with the Astro 320 handheld devise for tracking only applications. For smaller dogs like beagles and Brittany spaniels you can combine the Garmin Astro 320 with the T5 mini collar to get a 25% reduction in size to fit these smaller dogs. The features of this collar include up to 9 miles of reception, tracking 10,000 points of information per dog, and multiple profiles for hunting, fishing, boating, camping and other applications. The Astro stores 2000 waypoints and 200 routes. It also tracks and marks your exact location, time of day and even your elevation. The Garmin Astro 320/T5 Bundle begins at $599.
The Garmin Alpha 100/TT15 is Garmin’s GPS track and train collar providing up to 9 miles of reception, 18 levels of stimulation (both continuous and momentary), track up to 20 dogs, view the exact position of 20 other hunters in your group who are also using Alpha handhelds, preloaded maps, fully waterproof design, and a built in LED beacon light plus vibration mode with remote activation mode. This system starts out at $799 and is also available in a mini version for smaller dogs.
Is a Tracking E-collar Better?
Opinions vary on the practicality of these fully functional tracking collars. My very first exposure to the SportDOG TEK 2.0 was with a group instructed by a SportDOG rep. I was amazed at the capabilities of the system; it was more than anything I knew existed in the e-collar industry at the time. These systems are so feature rich that they actually have other applications outside of dog training. For activities like canoeing, camping and fishing, I believe these collars have features that would be welcomed by any outdoor enthusiast. But the question remains, “do I need a high-end tracking collar to train my pointing dog?” Many hunters get by just fine without them.
Many product reviews say these e-collars are a good tracking solution for long ranging dogs but are just too feature rich for close running bird dogs and obedience training. But keep in mind these tracking collars do increase your ability to control your dog’s behavior at great distances measured in miles, and they greatly improve your chances of recovering a lost or roaming dog. So if you are unsure about purchasing a tracking e-collar, just ask yourself how valuable your dogs are to you.
Although my Brittany spaniel doesn’t require a tracking e-collar I still find myself gravitating toward these tracking systems because the handheld also functions as an outdoor GPS for other activities. If you run hounds, or other long-range dogs, I suggest you consider one of these e-collars. And if you don’t have hounds but do have the extra budget, I suggest you have one of these tracking e-collar systems because they are so versatile in the outdoors.