It’s every dog parent’s worst nightmare: You check your yard for your dog, but you can’t find him. How long has he been gone? Who saw him last? Where did he go? You call his name around your neighborhood: “Snickers! Here, Snickers! Snickers, come here!” But it’s getting dark, and Snickers is nowhere to be seen.
You start thinking of the highway a few miles away – what if Snickers got that far and was hit by a speeding truck? What if his collar got stuck on a fence when he tried to crawl underneath it, and now he’s trapped? What if he’s fine, but roaming far away from home? How are you going to find him?
You go to bed crying and hoping that a kind stranger finds your sweet Snickers and calls you in the morning. If only you could find Snickers yourself, instead of waiting for him to come home or hoping a stranger finds him! If only you knew exactly where to search for Snickers, so you could bring his muddy, burr-caked little butt home.
Why Is This Product Here?
Despite the complicated technology required for a GPS pet tracker, anyone can use the Whistle 3! You only need your smartphone and your wi-fi signal to get set up. The Whistle 3 allows you to set multiple “safe zones” for your pet. Safe zones are areas where the system knows your dog is allowed to be, like your house, the local dog park, and your mom’s house. Setup is easy and straightforward, even for technophobes. Simply plug your mom’s address into the app and draw a border around her property. That’s it – you’re all set! Now the Whistle 3 system is ready to alert you if your dog wiggles under your mom’s fence to chase a squirrel.
In addition to easy setup, the Whistle 3 gives you the benefit of a virtual “fence” with complete portability. You don’t need an outlet, transmitter, or base station for the Whistle 3’s GPS system – just your dog’s collar and your phone. Obviously, a virtual fence won’t keep your dog from running away. The Whistle 3 doesn’t warn your dog not to leave your yard or keep him from digging up your garden. But it does alert you if your dog tries to hit the open road.
And unlike a standard fence that encircles your property, or an electronic fence that’s buried in your yard, you can take your phone and your dog’s Whistle 3 anywhere with you. Staying with relatives for Christmas? Bring your Whistle 3, and set your aunt’s house as a safe zone for your pup. Going hiking? Keep your phone close by so you always know where your dog is while you’re both enjoying the great outdoors.
Check Carefully because…
Although the Whistle 3 weighs in at a paltry 0.92oz, it is meant to be used by dogs (or cats) 8 pounds or larger. If your dog is smaller than 8 pounds, shop around for a smaller GPS device. (Systems designed for cats are an excellent place to start!)
The collars sold by Whistle are designed for necks 14″-26″ long. If you need a more massive or small collar, you can supply your own – the Whistle 3 attaches to any collar up to 1″ thick.
You need to pay for an AT&T subscription plan for the Whistle 3 as long as you plan to use it. While you and your dog are at home or using other approved wi-fi like your mom’s network, the Whistle 3 switches to wi-fi mode to save battery – it takes less power to communicate with a local wi-fi network than with satellites in space. But if your dog makes an unscheduled detour from your yard to chase a deer, the Whistle 3 on her collar utilizes a cellular connection with AT&T to provide you with GPS information on her whereabouts.
The Whistle 3 functions as a tiny canine cell phone, allowing you to contact your dog with your own phone via the free Whistle app. The AT&T plans vary in price (all much less expensive than a personal cell phone plan), but if your dog escapes or travels frequently, the decision is probably a no-brainer: Peace of mind is invaluable. The AT&T plan ensures that you can locate your dog anywhere with cell coverage in the United States.
It’s important to remember that the Whistle 3 is only a GPS tracker. It’s not a fence system. It doesn’t keep your dog at home – it just tells you when she runs away. If your house is on a busy street and your dog’s sole pleasure is escaping and trying to give you heart attacks, you might want a device designed to keep her on your property. Consider your dog’s temperament and your house’s location before making a decision.
The MUST Know, True Facts about the Whistle 3
Luckily for water-loving canines, the Whistle 3 is shock-resistant and completely waterproof for up to 30 minutes. Your dog can wear the collar in your pool, a lake, or the ocean with no issues. The tracker locks into place in the collar bracket, and you have to depress a button to remove it, ensuring that the tracker stays put during every doggy adventure.
Each Whistle 3 uses AT&T’s cell coverage to communicate with satellites and provide pet parents with accurate location information. You don’t have to use AT&T yourself to get the Whistle 3 for your dog. Your phone can communicate with the Whistle 3 using any cell provider, just like you can call any cell phone number from your phone, not only other Verizon users. Choose the AT&T subscription plan that’s right for you when you purchase the Whistle 3. You can pay month-to-month or buy a year or two years at a time, to save some money.
What to watch out for with this product?
Since the Whistle 3 depends on cell coverage to provide GPS information, the tracker does not work in cell phone dead zones. If your dog is in a dead zone, the Whistle 3 can’t pinpoint her location until she gets within range of a cell tower again. However, if you’re in a dead zone and your dog has coverage, GPS satellites still ping the Whistle 3 for your dog’s location every six minutes. That means that as soon as you have cell coverage again, you can see where your dog is.
It’s important to note that the Whistle 3 does not give you live tracking information. You can’t use the tracker to watch your dog run through the woods, stop to sniff a bush, and then chase a rabbit. This is a deliberate design choice on the part of Whistle, trying to balance the tracker’s battery life with your need to determine your dog’s current location if he goes missing. Since it takes a lot of battery power to send a GPS signal to space, the tracker doesn’t communicate with GPS satellites 24/7.
You can use the app to check for your dog’s location at any time, and the Whistle 3 sends a response as soon as one minute after your dog leaves a safe zone. When you’re not explicitly requesting your dog’s position, the tracker is pinged less frequently – every six minutes – to keep your dog’s location up to date, though not live.
Fill in your dog’s profile on the Whistle app with her age, weight, and breed. The app gives you a suggested activity rate based on your dog’s specific information. While your dog is wearing the tracker, the app can show you how many minutes (or hours) your dog spent resting each day, and how much time she spent playing or taking a walk.
Don’t forget to charge the Whistle 3’s battery! The app keeps you up-to-date on the battery level, so you’ll never be surprised by a dead battery. The battery needs about two hours to recharge completely, so factor the recharge time into your weekend hiking plans.
Battery life varies depending on your dog’s activity level. Maybe your dog is a couch potato, bingeing Netflix on weeknights and staying close to your home wi-fi. (No shame in that game!) Since your homebody pup is usually within the range of your home wi-fi, your dog’s Whistle 3 uses less battery and probably lasts about a week.
Maybe you and your dog make a point of visiting dog-friendly coffee shops and local stores in your neighborhood. Your dog stretches his furry legs on a walk almost every day. This means your pup’s Whistle 3 switches to satellite communication more frequently, and your Whistle 3’s battery probably lasts about 3-4 days.
Maybe you and your dog are regular wilderness adventurers. Your dog takes long walks daily, enjoys a hike every weekend, and runs herself ragged at your local dog park. A pup with full-blown wanderlust gets about 1-2 days of battery life between charges since the Whistle 3 is continuously connecting to and communicating with cell towers.
Benefits and Features (Pros)
The Whistle 3 is surprisingly subtle for a device that can send signals to outer space. Even on smaller dogs, it’s remarkably unobtrusive, and its light weight keeps it manageable for almost any dog. (The Whistle 3 is recommended for dogs over 8 pounds.)
In addition to helping you locate your pup, the Whistle 3 can help you keep your pup healthy. You can view your dog’s activity and set a goal for daily active minutes. Based on your dog’s weight, age, and breed, the Whistle app recommends an activity goal for your specific pup, helping you keep your dog healthy throughout her life. The app even estimates how many calories your dog burns each day, based on her activity and how much she weighs!
The Whistle 3 can locate your dog anywhere in the U.S. with cell coverage. You can choose email, app, or text notifications whenever your pet leaves a designated safe zone – or all three at once! This ensures that you can respond quickly and find your pet before he gets too far from home. If you use a dog walking service, you can check on your dog’s location at any point during the day and check on the app’s map to see where he went on his walk.
Battery life is another pro feature of the Whistle 3. Similar GPS devices from other companies barely last half a week, while the Whistle 3 can last up to 7 days before you need to charge it. This makes it an excellent option for busy pet parents who don’t want to worry about charging their dog’s GPS tracker every other day.
The Whistle app and the Whistle 3 are notably minimalistic. Obviously, this can also be a pro, since you don’t want a complicated app bogged down with useless features. For some reason, however, the app creators decided not to save your dog’s activity or location information for more than 24 hours. After a day, all of the tracked information about your dog’s activity is deleted and is unavailable for viewing. The Whistle 3 uses Google Maps to detail where your dog has traveled over the past 24 hours, but there is no option to export or save the current map information before it disappears. As a result, you can’t view your dog’s daily active minutes over time, or compare your dog’s various walking paths over the months. These aren’t essential features for a device that’s meant to locate your dog if she’s lost, but they would still be fun to have.
Less importantly, there is no browser or desktop version of the Whistle software. Most people have a smartphone, so this shouldn’t be an issue. But if you don’t have your phone with you, you can’t check your dog’s location until you are reunited with your phone.
As previously mentioned, the Whistle 3’s battery life is distinctly longer than other comparable GPS trackers for dogs. However, that doesn’t mean the battery lasts forever – and battery life will vary from dog to dog. The Whistle 3’s battery is designed to last up to seven days without needing to be charged. But this assumes your dog is at home for those seven days, where the Whistle 3 can save battery life by connecting to your local wi-fi network instead of searching for cell towers. If you take a weekend trip, or even a trip to the grocery store, expect the Whistle 3’s battery life to be shorter. The longer the Whistle 3 has to search for a signal, the more battery it uses. If you and your dog frequently hike in rural areas, assume that your Whistle app show “low battery” on a regular basis.
It’s essential to note that the Whistle 3 currently works only in the U.S. and only via AT&T’s cellular network. Not all portions of the U.S. are wholly covered by AT&T, and the AT&T coverage in your particular location might not be up to snuff. If your pup doesn’t go for long hikes in national parks, the Whistle 3 probably meets your needs. However, if your dog spends many a weekend “off the grid,” the Whistle 3 might not cover you in all situations. Remember, though, as soon as your dog gets into cell phone coverage again, the app starts to track him. Even if Snickers makes a break for it in the rural backwoods, the Whistle 3 can find him again once he’s in an AT&T zone.
On the other hand, if you’re in the market for a more sophisticated activity tracker, you might want to keep looking. There are activity trackers that monitor your dog’s vital signs, allowing you to track your dog’s health and level of effort in exercise. The Whistle 3, however, only provides simplistic activity data showing that your dog moved from one location to another – not whether he strolled, jogged, or sprinted. And none of your pup’s activity data is stored for longer than 24 hours. Pet parents looking for a comprehensive health tracker for their fur baby should keep shopping.
Despite the shortcomings mentioned above, the Whistle 3 remains a competitive entry in the GPS pet tracker and activity monitor market. It’s an affordable option with the best battery life compared to its techy peers. Overall, the Whistle 3 is a solid choice for both dogs that travel with their humans and dogs like to leave home without adult supervision.