The sad reality is that millions of dogs, cats, and other pets go missing each and every year in the United States. This statistic is disconcerting given how much we love and spend on our furry children. As a result, we want to keep them safe, happy, and healthy.
Of course, regular trips to the vet will help in the happy and healthy department, but how can we do a better job of keeping our pets safe? Nowadays, technology plays a large part in tracking our pets, as smart collars are available that track your pet’s whereabouts.
In this article, we’ll discuss two of these smart collars. The Whistle 3 and Link AKC. What are the benefits of having these smart collars? What are there advantages and drawbacks? We’ll take a look at these questions and more as we dive into Whistle 3 and Link AKC smart collars.
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One of the smallest smart collars on the market today, the Whistle 3 is perfect for tracking your dog or cat’s location and activities. This smart collar comes with a smartphone app that is simple to use and user-friendly. Whistle 3 allows you to use your home wifi as a safe zone, as well as places of work, and any other places you visit on a regular basis.
Features and Design
When you purchase your Whistle 3, you’ll notice that it comes in a sleek and modern cardboard cube that might remind you of certain Apple products. Within the cube are three things: your pet tracker, the USB charger, and an attachment that allows you to secure the device to your pet’s collar or harness.
The Whistle 3 is half as large as its predecessors, clocking in at 1.45” x 1.82” x .61” (height, weight, depth). Its .92 oz weight makes it one of the lighter smart collars on the market. The recommendation is that you use the Whistle 3 on pets that weigh at least eight pounds.
A soft gray plastic casing replaces the old brushed steel of previous Whistle devices. The Whistle 3 is rated IP67, which means its water resistant. It’s not entirely waterproof, but if your pet decided to hop in the pool to cool off, it should be fine.
The device is easy to install, as it takes just a simple ninety-degree turn on the collar bracket. You have to press a spring-loaded button to release the device, then use the same motion to put the Whistle 3 on the charger. The device is secure when attached to the collar, and won’t come loose during typical animal behavior.
As the Whistle 3 charges, you’ll notice a small orange light, which will turn green when charging is complete. You will also receive an alert from the mobile app when the device battery is full. The Whistle 3 says the battery will last up to seven days, but that’s only on a wifi connection. If your pet winds up outside of your wifi area and the device resorts to GPS usage, the battery will drain faster.
GPS information is a service of AT&T, which has no impact on your personal carrier. The Whistle 3 talks to AT&T’s towers, so that’s how you get location information. As a result, if you are in a place that does not have AT&T service, you won’t be able to track your pet. If you live in an area without AT&T service, the Whistle 3 might not be the right smart collar for you.
Performance and Application
Setting up your Whistle 3 requires downloading the mobile application. You can find it on either the iOS or Android marketplaces and is not the same application as the Whistle GPS app. Make sure both the Whistle 3 and your smartphone can connect to your home wifi network. The app will use Bluetooth to find the tracker and connect it to your wifi.
Once you’re connected, your safe zone is automatically created. It’s anywhere within your wifi network. If the pet is in an area where your wifi reaches, the Whistle 3 will remain in Power Save mode and keep the GPS inactive.
When it determines that your device is connected to your wifi, it will ask you to create a profile for your pet. It will want to know what species (cat/dog), breed, gender, weight, age, and time zone. If you need to pick several breeds, the app has that capability. If you want to receive alerts, you can choose to get emails, texts, or other push notifications from the application. Options for notifications include battery life, activity goals and trends, and of course the GPS location of your pet.
The mobile app lets you see your pet’s location on Google Maps, and has an icon that shows you the amount of battery left on the device. If you want to look at what your pet has been up to, drag the screen up to reveal location history for the last twenty-four hours.
Unfortunately, the app only tracks the last twenty-four hours, so you can’t see anything prior to that time frame. You also don’t have the ability to share the data, so once it’s gone, it’s gone. The app does not give you the option to save it or send it to yourself.
In the upper right of the application is a graph icon that lets you view Activity. This menu shows hours and minutes of activity via a graph. As a result, you know when your pet is most active during the day. You can also see when your pet is resting, and if you want to add certain thresholds you think your pet should be meeting, you can do that in the Activity section.
Another menu within the mobile application is called Places. In this section, you’ll see the initial location of your safe zone. If you feel the need, you can make it bigger than the area your wifi covers. This is where you add several safe zones, like your office, or the person who watches your pets when you leave town.
If or when your pet decides it’s time to make a break for it, the application will send you an alert. The drawback here is that it can take up to two minutes before you get a notification, which is plenty of time for an animal to be a good distance away from your home.
To see where your pet has gone, swipe up in the Location menu. There you’ll see a Start Tracking option, which will refresh every minute and a half. After half an hour, Tracking will turn off to conserve battery on the device. It will also turn off once the pet returns home. If you need to keep tracking your pet, you’ll have to start Tracking again manually.
Even though it lacks from features that would be considered nice to have, the Whistle 3 is a great pet tracker. The ability to use your wifi network as your safe zone is an excellent feature, especially since you don’t have to mess with setting up a base station. Adjustable notifications and a week-long battery life are also fantastic features that make the Whistle 3 the perfect choice if you’re in the market for a smart collar.
The Link AKC smart collar is a sleek looking device that you mount on the collar of your pet. It allows you to track the location and fitness of our animal and comes with an endorsement from the American Kennel Club. The Link AKC comes with a nifty leather collar and offers features you won’t find with the Whistle 3. It has its drawbacks as well, which we’ll discuss further during our review.
Features and Design
Your Link AKC device arrives in a cardboard cylinder with a top made of plastic. Within the packaging, you’ll get a leather collar, a tracking unit with IP67 rating (water resistant), a base station with a power cord, and a collar carrier for the device itself.
The Link AKC collar comes in four sizes: small (9 to 14 inch necks), medium (14 to 17.5 inches), large (17 to 21 inches), and extra large (20.5 to 25 inches). Regardless of the size, you select, the device itself is the same 1.5 inches x 3.9 inches x .5 inches (height, width, depth).
The hardware itself is curved so it will fit the neck of your dog, which means it’s not going to work on a harness very well. The Link AKC weighs in at 2.55 oz including the carrier, so it’s bigger and bulkier than its counterpart, the Whistle 3. You can attach the carrier onto any collar you own. It doesn’t have to be the one that came with the device.
Link AKC suggests that the device not be used for canines less than 15 pounds. It makes sense since it would look very bulky on a smaller dog. It’s also not designed or sized to work with felines, which the Whistle 3 has the ability to do.
A clip attaches the tracker into the carrier, and a spring-loaded button pops it out. Pop it out and set it onto the base station to let the device recharge. Like the Whistle 3, the Link AKC tracker doesn’t pop out during normal activities during the day.
Once you set the device down onto the base station, you’ll see LED lights which show you how much time until a full charge. When the tracker is fully charged, remove it from the base station and push the button on the back to activate the tracking system. It will blink green, letting you know it’s working.
Even though Link AKC says the battery life will last between two and three days, the company recommends charging it every night. Still, three days is significantly less than the six days that the Whistle 3 boasts. AT&T provides the network for GPS tracking, just like the Whistle 3, so if you’re in an area that does not have AT&T coverage, you might want to reconsider purchasing a Link AKC.
Performance and Application
In order to get everything set up, you have to have an account. You can create your account on the Link AKC mobile application, which is available on both the iOS and Android marketplaces. You can use your Facebook credentials as well if you prefer to go that route.
You can activate the device by turning on Bluetooth in your smartphone settings. Then turn on the collar, go into the application and find the unit you are registering. Once you complete those steps, you can add your dog’s profile. Name, weight, age, breed, and gender are all available options. Like the Whistle 3, if you want to list multiple breeds, you can do so.
The base station will need to be set up as well. One nice feature the Link AKC offers is the support to connect to multiple base stations. That means if you want one in every room of your house, you can do so. A safe zone is created with each base station, and if your pet wanders out of the zone, you’ll soon receive a notification.
If you decide only to use one base station, you’ll want to make sure it resides in a central location within your home. Always be sure your base station is plugged in, so you don’t get false alerts. However, if you have a larger house, you may need several base stations placed throughout your home. Again, if your dog is not near you or one of the base stations, the application will fire off an alert, letting you know what’s going on.
The GPS tracker also activates; however it can take a few minutes to determine a location. Once it does, it will check every thirty seconds, and report back until the device is back in the safe zone or turns off.
Within the mobile application are buttons for Location, Home, Activity, and Adventures. You’ll also notice an indicator showing how much juice remains in the battery.
The Home menu grants access to other sections within the mobile app. It will also allow you to turn on the white LED light located on the tracker. This helps in the event that you need to find your dog in the dark. You’ll also see a button within the Home menu that activates a chime on the tracker, which gives you two ways to find your lost pet at night.
The Location menu shows a map of your area showing the safe zone which is established based on the location of your base station and your smartphone. Selecting the target will show you the current location of the Link AKC. You’ll notice that it takes about thirty seconds to receive a notification, which is a much more reasonable alert time than you’ll get with the Whistle 3.
To set up your Activity profile, the application will want some information about your dog. Based on the size, age, and gender of the canine, Link AKC will make a recommendation on the amount of daily active time your dog should have. The Activity time is adjustable, so if you think the number is too high or too low, you have the ability to change it.
The Activity tracker will tell you how many minutes per day your dog was active while splitting that data between moderate and intense activity. While the tracker isn’t entirely accurate based on the actions of the dog, you will still at least have an idea of just how active your dog is (or isn’t) being.
Adventures is a fun part of the mobile application used for tracking location-based trips. Whether you’re going to the park or on a long hike, you just press the red button, and it will begin to track the place and time as long as your dog is within Bluetooth range of your phone.
One neat feature of the Adventures section is that while taking pictures in the app, they get stored along with the location information. The app gives you the ability to delete, share, or rename your adventures, a feature unavailable with the Whistle 3.
The last thing you can do with the application is store all your pet’s health information and records and any other pertinent information within the app. It’s basically just a picture of the paperwork you decide to store, but it can come in handy when you have to make an emergency trip to the vet.
The Link AKC smart collar is a great tracker and does many things very well. It has more advanced tracking capabilities and a shorter alert window than the Whistle 3. Unfortunately, the bulkiness and size of the Link AKC can be cumbersome if you don’t have a bigger dog.
Additionally, you have to have a base station to use the tracker, which is a bit of a pain point. Having said those things, if you like the features the Link AKC provides, you’re not going wrong by making this the smart collar you get for your dog.
We’ve discussed the Whistle 3 and the Link AKC in depth, but here is a high-level view of some of the benefits and drawbacks of each device:
|Whistle 3||Link AKC|
|Works with Other Animals||Yes||No|
|GPS Location Tracking||Yes||Yes|
The Whistle 3 and the Link AKC are both fantastic options if you’re in the market for a smart collar for your pet. As you can see from both the comparison table and the reviews, each has their drawback and advantages. In the end, you must decide which is the device that makes the most sense for you and your pet. No matter which smart collar you go with, you know you’re going to be getting a solid product with plenty of features.