Whistle 3 GPS Dog Tracker Hands-on Review

May 24, 2018 |

Dog wearing a Whistle GPS dog tracker.

Within a matter of hours, our test subject put the Whistle Tracker through its paces. After all, who better to test out the Whistle Tracker than a playful senior husky with a stubborn streak? Introducing Gunner. Gunner is a wonderful companion, but he doesn’t always listen to commands when he’s off leash. And as he ages, it’s hard to tell whether he needs exercise or a day of rest. So he was the perfect candidate to try out the Whistle Dog GPS and activity tracker.

 

 

Best Tracking Device for Dogs

  • Fast geolocation
  • Customizable safe zones and profiles
  • Activity monitoring
  • Long battery life

Whistle 3 GPS and Pet Tracker at a Glance

Product image of Whistle 3 GPS pet tracker

The front and side of the Whistle 3

Whistle is a pet tracker and GPS device that attaches to your dog’s existing collar. The unit uses AT&T’s cellular connectivity, as well as GPS and GLONASS signals, to accurately track the location of your pet. Whatever subscription plan you choose will cover the costs of using GPS, GLONASS, and AT&T’s network—so you don’t have to worry about hidden fees on your cell phone bill. So in the event that Fido escapes from the backyard, you’ll be able to ping her location on the Whistle app, find where she is, and leash her up before the dog catcher or city animal control gets called.

The Whistle is relatively small and is intended to fit animals who are 8 pounds and heavier. However, the Whistle looked a bit large and unwieldy on Gunner, who weighs about 55 pounds. Consequently, this GPS pet tracker might be better suited for medium-to-large dogs, not small dogs. The convenient attachment piece keeps the Whistle securely attached to your dog’s existing collar instead of using a one-size-fits-all GPS dog collar or oversized pet tracking collar for dogs.

That said, the Whistle isn’t just a pet GPS tracker—it also monitors activity too. Specifically, it looks at calories burned and time spent resting or being active. This feature offers insight into your pup’s daily life and can help you adequately address health or mental stimulation. For example, Gunner transforms from headstrong troublemaker to a docile dog after a mellow three-mile jog. Thanks to the activity tracker, it’s easy to see when his last outing was and address it, so he can quit being naughty and relax.

Homescreen notification for Whistle app

Homescreen notification for the Whistle 3

Whistle 3 Pricing & Plans

Pricing Breakdown

Two-Year Subscription One-Year Subscription Monthly Subscription
$79.95 + $83.40* $79.95 + $95.40* $79.95 + $9.95 / month*
*Billed every two years *Billed annually *12-month commitment required

 

Whistle Tracker Comparison*

Whistle GPS Whistle Tracker 3
GPS Tracking Y Y
Activity and Rest Tracking Y Y
Safe Zones and Places N Y
Geolocation N Y
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Connectivity N Y
Stored Trips N Y
Waterproof Y Y
Notifications Y Y
Multiple Caretakers Y Y
Reminders Y Y
Meal Logs Y N
Social Connectivity Y N
Pet Profile Y Y

*Sourced from Whistle FAQs

We Like

  • Accurate GPS Geolocation
    When your dog leaves a safe zone or Wi-Fi area, Whistle immediately notifies you with their specific geolocation. So you don’t have to go wandering around the neighborhood aimlessly—instead, you can check the app and find the house number or cross-street location.
  • Affordable Plans
    Whether you choose the month-to-month option or the two-year subscription, Whistle has a variety of affordable plans. No matter which plan you choose, you’re guaranteed dependable GPS tracking, customizable pet profiles, and activity monitoring. And the most you’ll pay per month is $9.95, which is less than a monthly pet insurance fee.
  • Nationwide Coverage
    From Acadia, Maine, to Portland, Oregon, Whistle keeps you connected to your furry friend. Whistle employs AT&T cellular connectivity, GPS, and GLONASS satellites. So as long as you have service on your cellular device, you should have access to the Whistle app and tracker. Keep in mind that not all areas of the United States have cell service, so don’t rely on 100% accessibility.

We Don’t Like

  • Unpredictable Signal or Coverage
    If you’re in a remote area or don’t have a remote hotspot, you won’t be able to receive a GPS geolocation on your furry friend. Yes, Whistle uses the best technology out there (GPS, GLONASS, and AT&T cellular coverage), but you’re not guaranteed a GPS location, alerts, or signal. There are some areas of the United States where you simply won’t have coverage.
  • Production Limited to the United States
    The Whistle GPS tracker is only available to dog owners who live in the United States. We hope the company makes a GPS pet and dog tracker for other countries as well, soon!

Whistle 3 Features & Usability

We Like

  • Wi-Fi Connectivity
    When your dog is at home, the Whistle tracker relies on your Wi-Fi network and immediately resorts to a power-saving mode for the battery. This helps extend the life of your battery. Additionally, when your dog leaves the Wi-Fi range, Whistle’s app immediately notifies you that your furry friend is on the run.
  • Easy and Fast Setup
    The Whistle setup takes all of five minutes. All you have to do is charge the Whistle device, download the app, sign up for a subscription plan, make a profile for your pooch, and connect the GPS tracker to your Wi-Fi. Once the unit is done charging, you’ll get a notification that the unit has finished charging and is ready to be fastened to your dog’s collar. Then, simply attach the Whistle 3 GPS Tracker to your dog’s collar and Fido is ready to roam. You will have to recharge the battery every few days, depending on how frequently Fido wanders the neighborhood out of a safe zone or Wi-Fi connection area.
  • Collar Attachment
    While most dog GPS tracking collars are oversized and heavy, the Whistle device is a bit more subdued and doesn’t seem to bother Gunner too much. The Whistle conveniently attaches to your pup’s existing collar, so your dog doesn’t have layers of collars and information tags jangling about. The only time that Gunner seemed bothered by the device was once when he laid down and the tracker was wedged strangely on his collar.
  • Whistle App
    Since dogs don’t have thumbs, Gunner can’t comment on the Whistle app, but his human can tell you it’s simple and super easy to use—no unnecessarily frills or baubles. The subcategory tabs within the app are self-explanatory and provide you with the perfect balance between thoughtful insight and daily stats. Our favorite is the activity monitoring section.
  • Customizable Safe Zones
    A safe zone is an area like your home, friend’s house, or a doggy daycare center. You can add an indefinite number of safe zones to your pet’s profile. Just make sure that when you leave the house, the device is fully charged and securely attached to your dog’s collar.
  • Activity Monitor
    Whistle doesn’t just track Fido’s location—it also monitors activity (e.g. miles walked or run), rest, and calories burned. The activity tracking is comparable to the kind you’d find on your Apple Watch or Fitbit, but instead, the activity tracker is on your dog’s collar. Through the activity monitoring category of the app, you’ll receive recommendations that are tailored to your pooch’s lifestyle and age. You can adjust your pet’s goal physical activity at any point in time too.
  • Trip Tracker
    This convenient feature allows you to see where your pet has wandered in the past 24 hours. So say you forgot to lock the doggy door and Fido takes herself on a walk around the block—you’ll be able to see how far she meandered and where she went. Or, in the event that you employ a dog walker, you can check to see how far Fido walked during the day.
  • Geolocation Sensor
    Whether your furry friend has taken themselves for a leisurely stroll down Main Street or you’ve accidentally closed them in the garage, the Whistle’s location sensor helps you quickly determine where your pooch is hanging out. The garage bit is a true story—Gunner let himself into the garage, and his owner locked the door. Gunner’s human panicked because she couldn’t find him after 20 minutes, so she pulled up the Whistle app and realized he was just hanging out in the garage by himself—whoops!
  • Personalized Profile
    Whistle has a section dedicated to your dog’s profile—name, weight, age, and breed. In this tab, you’ll find owners (you can add multiple), activity goal, subscription plan, average activity, and device stats (e.g. battery percent and software updates).

We Don’t Like

  • Physical Activity Measurement
    Your pup’s activity goal is measured in time spent away from a pet’s safe zone. If your dog plays in the house or backyard (within a safe zone), Whistle will make a note in the day’s activity barometer that some sort of exercise was conducted, but it doesn’t go towards the activity goal. And Whistle doesn’t allow you to edit the type of activity or level of rigor—regardless of where the exercise occurred. As a result, the way that Whistle monitors physical activity doesn’t provide the most accurate representation of the intensity and type of exercise that your pup is getting.
  • Inconsistent Owner GPS Geolocation
    This might seem nitpicky, and perhaps less of an issue with Whistle itself, but the app’s GPS map doesn’t have a consistent read on where you (the owner) are located. For example, I was less than two feet away from the Whistle Tracker, and according to the map I was in another house.

Screenshot of Whistle App using geo location

Geolocation in the Whistle app

Whistle 3 FAQs

How waterproof is the Whistle?
The Whistle has an IPX7 waterproof rating—so your pooch can go for a swim, roll around in the wet grass, and romp through muddy fields without breaking the Whistle.

Does the activity monitor track my dog’s heart rate?
No, the Whistle tracker does not have a heart rate sensor—it simply monitors for movement. That said, Whistle measures activity as time spent outside of a GPS-specific safe zone. In order for Whistle to accurately monitor activity, be it throwing the ball or going for a run, you and your dog will need to leave the safe zone and Wi-Fi network.

Is the collar attachment for the Whistle device secure?
Yes, Gunner likes to run, wrestle, roll around in the grass, and play—and the Whistle device stayed securely attached to his dog collar the entire time. Gunner wears the Ruffwear Knot-A-Collar dog collar for reference.

Will the Whistle shock my dog if they leave a safe zone?
No, the Whistle is very different from an in-ground fence or shock collar. The Whistle is designed to help you monitor your dog’s location, activity, and general well-being. A animal’s needs will vary from day to day, but if you’re a pet owner, meeting Fido’s needs are in your best interest. If you have a dog that jumps the fence or bolts, your furry friend might benefit from obedience training or more exercise.

Why is Wi-Fi important for the Whistle device?
A Wi-Fi connection allows the Whistle to update its software periodically and sync activity, GPS data, and trips accordingly.

Who is the Whistle best suited for?
The Whistle is best for dog owners whose pet is frequently off leash or escapes the yard often. As long as you have cell service, you’ll be able to access the Whistle app and your dog’s geolocation. Consequently, the Whistle could be ideal for hunters, outdoor enthusiasts, or people living in urban settings too.

The Bottom Line

If you have an escape artist in the family and want a dependable dog tracking system, the Whistle Tracker will help you keep an eye on your furry friend. Additionally, the activity monitor provides insight into your dog’s needs and habits—and it’s a fun way to get the whole family involved in Fido’s well-being.

Pros Cons
  • Fast, easy setup
  • Easy-to-use app
  • Convenient charger
  • Activity monitor and stats tracking
  • Quick geolocation
  • Customizable settings
  • Coverage limited to the United States
  • Inconsistent signal and owner geolocation

How We Evaluated the Whistle Dog Tracker

 

To properly evaluate the Whistle Dog GPS Pet Tracker, we read customer reviews, researched the company, and put the device through its paces with the help of our furry friend, Gunner. To find out more about how SafeWise researches and evaluates products, visit our Methodology page.

Written by Monique Seitz-Davis

The SafeWise Team is here to help you keep your home and family safe. Whether you’re looking to pick a security system or identify and remove common risks in your home, we’re here to help you find the best products and well-researched answers. At SafeWise we combine our years of experience in home safety and security with user reviews and feedback to help take the guesswork out of living safe. Learn more

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