In this series, we’re going to be covering some of the more popular pet trackers and smart dog collars to highlight their unique pros and cons.
If you’re looking to keep tabs on your dog, track their activities, make sure they’re getting enough exercise, and more… then a smart dog collar is a great way to make that happen.
Is the Link AKC necessarily the right choice for you? Let’s find out…
What works best for one dog might not be ideal for another, it’s about finding the product that’s the right fit.
Our goal with this series is to help you understand the basics, the more advanced features, and everything you need to know before buying one of these collars, including how they compare among themselves.
While this page focuses on the Link, we’ll also be briefly discussing the Whistle and the Tractive, but if you want a more focused look at either of those, we recommending visiting our dedicated resources for each one, which you can find linked right below.
- Winner CES 2017 Best Of Innovation. Order now to lock in a special pre-order price - Save $20 for...
- Always know your dog's location via the LINK AKC app. LINK AKC converts your home into a digital...
- Only LINK AKC offers customized activity level recommendations tailored to your individual dog to...
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- SERVICE PLAN: LINK AKC requires a service plan for connectivity; plans are as low as $6.95 per month...
Most Popular Smart Dog Collars:
Link AKC [You Are Here]
Tractive (Coming soon)
With that out of the way, let’s dive right into the Link, what makes it unique, and why you should consider picking it up for your four legged friend.
An Overview of the Link AKC
For starters, the Link AKC comes in a number of different sizes, starting from extra small to extra large. While each one is adjustable which gives you some extra leeway, it’s still important to choose the best-fitting size you can.
Ideally, you’ll be somewhere in the middle, so that you have some room to size up or down as needed.
The features of the Link can be broken down into four main categories, as follows:
LOCATION: The location features allow you to know exactly where your dog is at any moment. GPS updates relatively quickly, there can be a minor delay and it can be off by a few feet here and there, but overall it gives you a really good idea of the general vicinity of your dog.
It uses AT&T cellular towers for a connection, so you’ll have nationwide coverage in case the unthinkable happens and your pup gets very lost, very far away from home.
Beyond that, the device automatically sets up what they call a “Digital Safe Zone”, using Bluetooth, that will alert you if your dog strays too far.
For example, this can let you know if they hop the fence and start running down the street, with a helpful alert.
WELLNESS: The wellness features of the Link makes it like a Fitbit for your dog, but it does more than most Fitbits do. On the more basic side, it can track your dog’s movement and activity levels to ensure that your dog is getting enough exercise.
To take it a step further, the Link uses artificial intelligence to adapt to your dog’s unique activity levels and needs to better understand what a normal level of activity is, and what would count as more vigorous exercise for them.
That covers the basics in the wellness category, so now we can talk about some of the really cool stuff. For instance, there’s temperature tracking, which can let you know if your dog is at risk of being too cold, or overheating, based on the temperature of the environment they’re in.
You’ll get health and wellness guidance for your dog based on things like their age, activity levels, breed, and more. It’s customized and personalized to be relevant to them.
Rounding it all out, you can get reminders for various health needs and you can consolidate things like vet records. The wellness category covers the bread and butter of what this app offers, but the other 3 feature categories are far from being toss-ins or gimmicks, which you’ll see as we go over the final two.
ADVENTURES: A little bit of adventure is important for most dogs. This feature will remind you to go on little adventures (walks) with your dog, and allow you to track and record them along the way.
You can take photos, which are organized into a digital scrapbook/photo album and stamped with relevant information about the walk. This will help you look back and remember some of those ordinary moments in life that can turn into special and fond memories.
LIGHT & SOUND: To round out the feature set of the Link, it has some light and sound based abilities that are quite unique and interesting! If your dog runs away at night, or even if you’re just walking them, you can activate a light on the collar to make them easier to see in order to avoid collisions with cars, cyclists, etc.
You can also play a sound from the collar that can be used to help with training your dog.
All in all, there is a wide variety of features that go way beyond what you’d see with most typical Fitbits or other activity trackers for humans, so it’s really cool to be able to harness this technology in order to help care for our dogs and to keep them healthy.
Our dogs can’t speak to us, but the Link offers exactly as the name implies: A Link between our dog’s health, and tangible data that we can track, measure, and understand.
So, What Does That All Mean?
That’s a big list of features, benefits, and things that the Link AKC can do… but some people might be asking themselves, “so what?”
There’s a similar critique about Fitbit and other activity trackers. Certain people are going to do their same daily workout or amount of steps regardless of whether they’re wearing an activity tracker. So, if you’re the type of dog owner who is going to take your dog for the same walk, let them outside and encourage them to get the same amount of exercise each day, and none of the features mentioned above really seem like things you’d follow up on, you’re probably better off with a regular old leather dog collar.
On the other hand, if you love having all the data you can, if you love digitizing your life, if the idea of vet info and reminders coming at you via alerts, and being able to see where your pup is at any moment appeals to you, then the Link AKC is about as close to perfect as you’ll get.
Do I Need a Plan to use Link AKC?
Once you own the device, which is relatively fairly priced all things considered, there’s also a monthly fee that ranges from $6.95 – $9.95 that covers the cellular aspect of the device, since it operates on cellular networks and we all know that cell phone companies aren’t giving up anything for free.
This monthly fee allows your dog’s device to remain connected and traceable, even if there’s no WiFi nearby, because it works through the same cellular signals as your phone or sending a text.
Other benefits of the service plan include a size guarantee that lets you trade in your collar for a larger size if your dog ever outgrows it, and also 24/7 access to a Pet Poison Helpline. You never know, it could come in handy if your dog ever eats something they shouldn’t.
You’ll also unlock a great 3-year warranty when you activate your Link which protects it from any damage that arises from normal usage.
Whistle 3 vs. Link AKC: Which is Better? What’s the Difference?
The Whistle 3 is another very popular device that’s similar to the Link AKC, at least enough so that they’re often compared, so let’s go over the differences quickly.
The things that both devices have in common are GPS tracking via a cell phone connection, a 3D accelerometer to help track movement and activity for your dog which you can monitor via an app on your phone.
Both devices are able to withstand some water, with the Whistle 3 having a better waterproof certification.
Something unique with the Whistle 3 is that it allows you to monitor your dog’s sleep, which might be something you haven’t really thought about a whole lot as a pet owner.
There are some nuances between the devices, but at the end of the day they’re quite similar.
We’ll look at the Whistle 3 in much more detail, so make sure you check that out if you really want to dig deep to choose which of these collars will be the best suited to you, as well as your dog, since they’re the ones who are going to be wearing it, after all.
Link Safe Zones and Base Stations
The Link dog collar will communicate with your cellphone via Bluetooth, and it creates a proximity around you that’s considered to be the ‘safe zone’. When your pup strays too far from that safe zone, you will be alerted. This is useful when you’re going for a walk, or out anywhere else, to make sure that your pup stays close to you, and if you do get distracted for a second and they manage to sneak away, they won’t get very far before you notice.
There’s also a base station that’s setup in your home, that also serves as an invisible boundary that will alert you if your dog leaves it.
When your dog is away from the home base and away from you, simple visit the location screen of the app and you’ll be able to map out exactly where they are thanks to the GPS tracking.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you have any questions about this device, don’t hesitate to ask. We’ll do our best to answer them, or to find someone who can. Before we wrap this up, let’s go over some common things that people wonder about the Link AKC…
How does the Link AKC monthly charge work?: You pay a month fee for the cell service as we discussed, and if you’re willing to pay for a longer amount of time upfront, you’ll save a few bucks per month. If you just go month to month, it’s about $10 per month.
Is there a Link AKC app?: Yes, there’s an app for your phone that allows you to interface with the device, and that is what you’ll use to monitor your dog’s location, track vital information, and everything else we’ve discussed about this wearable tech.