The Fi Dog Collar Series 2 is a GPS smart collar for your dog, which uses a combination of Wi-Fi and GPS to track your dog’s location, as well as tracking the number of steps your dog has taken in the day, and it also offers dog sleep tracking.
Our Fi Series 3 review is on its way!
For this Fi Collar review, I initially wore the device every day for two months straight (spoiler alert, I’m still wearing a Fi collar more than three years on).
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Keep reading this Fi Dog Collar review to find out what I (and my humans) think about using this GPS Fi Collar in real-world, everyday scenarios.
Fi Collar Review Table of Contents
- How does the Fi Collar work?
- What is the Fi Collar made from?
- Is the Fi Collar waterproof?
- How long does the battery last on the Fi GPS Dog Collar?
- What is a safe zone (gps dog fence) for the Fi Collar?
- How does the Fi Collar’s Lost Dog Mode work?
- Does the Fi Collar dog GPS tracker light up?
- Using the Fi GPS Collar to track your dog’s steps
- Using the Fi dog sleep tracking feature
- Using the Fi app
- How much does the Fi Collar cost? PLUS our Coupon Code!
- What phone network does the Fi Collar work on?
- How do you remove the Fi GPS Dog Collar’s metal clips?
- Can you use the Fi Collar for cats?
- Fi Collar Review Summary
- Fi Dog Collar Review (YOUTUBE VIDEO)
How does the Fi Dog Tracker Collar work? Specifically the Invisible fence collar, dog tracking features, and activity tracking
This GPS Dog Collar uses the AT&T network for locating your dog when he or she is out of the house alone (or if they escape the bounds of your home), as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-based safe zones (also known as an invisible fence collar or a GPS dog fence), which would typically include:
- Your home – where your dog’s Fi Collar base station should be plugged in and connected to Wi-Fi. This creates a WiFi Geofence for your dog.
- Proximity to you – or more specifically, within Bluetooth range of your phone. This creates a Bluetooth dog fence relative to your smartphone. When your dog steps outside the range of bluetooth, the Fi Collar switches to tracking your dog with GPS.
- Custom Safe Zone/GPS Dog Fence – You can set custom radial GPS dog fences in any location you like, using the Fi dog collar App. So this is the geofence you would use if you were at a friend’s house, or camping for example, where there’s no GPS base station, and your pup could potentially wander off, away from your parent’s smart phone.
- As needed, additional base locations (such as your office, or dog sitter/parents’ home), and the phones of other trusted people, such as your dog walker, friend, spouse, kid, etc.
This isn’t just a GPS dog tracker however, it can also track the number of steps your dog takes throughout the day, and then compare your dog’s activity to other Fi Dog Collar users around the USA.
I love this leaderboard feature as it’s a great motivator for my human parents to take me out on more walks and trail runs.
Oh speaking of trail running, you totally need to go trail running with your pup, this trail running with your dog guide shares everything you need to know about how to take them for the first time, and beyond! If you’re not a trail runner yourself but would like to know more, read our beginner’s guide to trail running (for humans).
The Fi collar also tracks my sleep quality too! Now my parents know all about my ‘running in my sleep habits! Gots to stay fit!
What is the Fi Dog Collar made from?
The Fi Dog Collar has a nice, solid construction to it. It’s definitely a lot heavier than my regular webbing collar, as it has a matchbox-sized small GPS unit and durable metal hardware, including a quick-release buckle and loop for dog tags and leash attachment.
My favorite dog running leash connects very nicely to it.
Fi state that their collar is chew-proof and generally dog-proof – and it comes with a 1-year warranty, which is reassuring.
I’ve worn mine pretty much every day for the last couple of months and it has picked up a few light scratches as you can just about see in the photos, and I’m sure it will pick up a few more as I spend more time on the trails and nosing into brambles, that sort of thing.
If you do damage your Fi dog tracking collar’s fabric, or you want to change the color, you can buy a replacement nylon webbing part for less than $30.
I’d be tempted to go for the jazzier and higher-visibility yellow Fi collar if I was to need a new one. Alternatively, you can also get creative and put your Fi tracker on other brands of dog collar.
Due to the weight, I didn’t start wearing my Fi GPS dog tracker until I had grown to 30lb and was a 4+ month-old pup, as my parents didn’t want me wearing a heavier collar when I was younger and smaller.
I was more of a baby dog at that point so I wasn’t able to go out on as many adventures as I do now.
Is the Fi Dog Tracker waterproof?
Yes! If you’re going to invest in a Fi collar dog GPS tracker and pay a lot more than a regular dog collar to buy one, then you definitely need it to be waterproof and stand up to not just rain but your dog jumping into ponds, lakes, puddles, etc etc.
I’ve tried drowning it in a lake when my humans took me stand-up paddleboarding, but haven’t been able to.
It’s my personal preference but I prefer to have my baths naked, so I haven’t tried it in the bath, but if the Fi collar folks say it’s waterproof, then I guess you could have a bath with it on, too…
…but why would you feel the need to, unless you hate baths so much that you may escape from home mid-bath?).
How long does the battery last on the Fi GPS Dog Collar?
One of the outstanding features of the Fi Dog Collar is that the battery can last up to three months between charges.
The three months battery life is based on if your collar does not spend much time outside of the range of your home base station, i.e. you don’t get out much.
The length of time the Fi collar’s battery lasts naturally depends on how active a dog you are and how much time you spend out of the range of the house base station.
When outside the range of your base station’s wifi, the GPS dog collar requires more battery power when connecting to your parent’s/dog-walkers phone via Bluetooth.
So you should expect the battery to run down quicker if you spend a lot of time away from your home wifi and parent’s phone.
This is the same story when it’s picking up GPS signal when out of range of their phone and your home base (if you have a Fi subscription to effectively turn your Fi Dog Tracker into its own mobile device – more on that, later).
As a Border Collie, and therefore by definition one of the most active dog breeds, I do drain the battery quicker than the stated three months maximum battery life, and my parents charge it after around 8 weeks.
They get notified when it has 20% or less battery, so there’s plenty of time for them to remember to charge it before it gets very low, and they normally charge it at night when I’m safe and sound in my bedroom.
8 weeks for a collar worn by a busy dog doing 2-3 walks a day (and/or running and frisbee sessions) is a long time to go between charges (especially when considering my parents have to charge their smartwatches pretty much daily!).
What is a ‘safe zone’ for the Fi Dog Collar?
The Fi Dog Collar comes with a Fi Base, which is also used to charge the Fi collar.
Safe zones are defined by a perimeter range around the Fi Base, as well as when the collar is away from home but within Bluetooth range of a designated owner/dog-walker.
Having the home safe-zone being designated by the Base location helps save on battery life as the Fi collar dog GPS tracker doesn’t need to pick up and track from GPS when it knows it’s within range of the base station, which is a neat feature.
You set up the Base and the designated humans using the Fi app. Designated humans may include family members, your dog walker, and anyone else who may be alone with your dog.
Designated humans need to have their phone with them and the Fi app installed for this to work. The app also needs to be open and running in the background on their phone.
If your dog is near one of your designated owners/walkers when out of the house, then you can get notified via the Fi app notification and/or a text message when they leave the safe (home) zone for a walk with that person.
For example, the message my parents receive when my Dad takes me out for a walk is ‘Kepler just left home with Alastair’.
If I was to leave home without someone my parents have set up in the Fi app, or if the person walking me does not have their phone with them, the message my parents receive will just say ‘Kepler just left home’.
This also happens if someone doesn’t have the Fi app open in the background on their phone to help the collar connect via Bluetooth when out of range of the base station – so the collar doesn’t know the dog is near an owner/walker.
If you receive a notification like this, and you know your dog should not be out on a walk somewhere, then this may be the trigger you need to set off the ‘Lost Dog Mode’ and start tracking down the sneaky canine if they’ve escaped home.
For me, the message comes through within around a minute of leaving the house – I have to be outside of the safe-zone perimeter, which extends beyond our front door (as our current home is not large) so there is sometimes a lag between me leaving the front door and triggering the notifications that I have left home.
It’s also worth noting that your dog is frequently at another location (such as a friend or family members’, pet sitters’, office, etc.) it may be helpful to have an additional Fi Base (currently $39) to avoid having to transport your home Fi Base and reconfigure wifi to each location.
Also, if you have a large house/property then you may also benefit from having more than one base station (assuming each base station can connect to a wifi network – i.e. you can’t get one to have at the end of the garden if that’s out of range of your Wi-Fi).
How does the Fi Collar dog GPS tracker ‘Lost Dog Mode’ work?
If you activate Fi Collar’s ‘Lost Dog Mode’ using your Fi app, then this turns on live location tracking on your dog’s collar to help find him or her.
NOTE: you need to have a Fi subscription so that your Fi GPS Collar acts as its own cell phone, to enable the Fi collar to be tracked using GPS when your dog is not near to an owner’s phone.
Lost Dog Mode also activates a red pulsing light on your dog’s Fi collar to help make them easier to spot in the dark, and sends a location notification to you every minute so you can track them down.
When we tested it (by having my Mom take me out without her phone, so it looked like I had taken myself for a walk), the GPS was accurate to within around 50ft or so. This was a fun game of ‘find me’, but it could save my life if I was to escape.
I expect the accuracy would vary depending on how strong and reliable the cell service is in a location where your dog goes missing, but I would hope that it gets my parents close enough to me that they can either see me at a distance and/or call me back to them.
It’s also worth noting that because the Fi collar dog GPS tracker relies on me being within cell service, it won’t be able to track my location in an area without phone signal.
When in Lost Dog Mode, the battery life of the Fi collar dog GPS tracker is up to two days, as it’s using GPS signals to refresh the location status every minute, which consumes a lot more battery juice than regular use.
Does the Fi Dog Collar dog tracking device have a light?
Yes! One feature that my parents love is that at the push of a button on the Fi app, my Fi collar lights up with a pulsing light. You can choose from 7 different colors including blue, pink, yellow and green.
It’s just one part of the Fi collar so not anything super-bright or flashy, but it’s a nice feature for night walks, especially if it’s very dark where you are, you’re near an area with cars or other people, and you’re a dark-colored dog who is harder to see.
Speaking of night walks, if you’re in need of a dog collar light or reflective dog gear to help them be seen when walking in the dark, check out our reflective dog gear buyer’s guide.
Activity Tracker for Dogs: Using the Fi GPS smart dog Collar to track your dog’s steps
A nice feature of the Fi GPS Dog Collar is that it’s not just a dog GPS tracker to find your dog’s location.
My Fi collar dog GPS tracker also counts my steps and summarizes how many steps I did on each walk (or run).
This way, my humans can use the app to set a daily step goal for me and track my daily step activity in the Fi app.
I gather there is no proven science specifying what is a ‘healthy’ amount of steps for a dog, and of course, that would vary between dogs’ individual needs.
But it’s a nice feature, and like a human’s smartwatch step tracker, can be used as a prompt to make sure that if you’ve had a quiet few days and not taken your pup out for as much activity as normal, you may want to step it up.
Speaking of stepping it up… have you heard that it’s possible to get a treadmill for your dog? Great for those freezing winter days where you still want to get your workout in!
The Fi ‘Strain Score’
Equally, and importantly for a growing boy such as myself, the goal can also be used as a target to stay BELOW – ie. So that I don’t get too much exercise, as I need to make sure I don’t over-use my growing puppy body and risk an injury.
Before Fi introduced the Strain Score in June 2022, my parents used my steps data and general common sense to help ensure I was getting enough rest and not being too busy or working out too much.
But now, the Strain Score actually gives you more information on this, by comparing your dog’s activity compared to their average, as well as other Fi dogs. It’s a measure of activity, relative to rest and sleep.
The information can be found if you scroll down within the ‘activity’ view screen.
Here’s what my Strain Score looks like from yesterday. I had a chilled morning but then got to run around my backyard with a frisbee while my Mom did some gardening in the afternoon… but stayed within the average range of similar Fi dogs’ activity levels.
This is a really cool feature and a step towards the Fi device helping track dogs’ health and recovery status from exercise in a similar way to my parents’ favorite human GPS watches do [more on those, here: The Best GPS Watches For Running & Hiking].
Fi dog breed ranking
One nice feature that my parents find entertaining is the ranking by breed, which tracks the last month of steps and compares you to how other dogs of your breed are doing with their step count and Strain Score.
There are options to set yourself up as a mixed breed, so I’m in a category with Border Collies and Border Collie mixes, for example.
Sleep tracker for dogs: Using the Fi Collar to track your dog’s sleep
An update to the Fi collar software in mid-2021, the Series 2 also tracks your dog’s sleep, if you feel it’s safe to leave your smart dog collar on them overnight.
Like with people, getting enough sleep is important for dogs’ health, both long-term, as well as short-term to help them recover from intensive workouts and the day’s activities.
This is especially true for puppies and young dogs, especially dogs like me, who will move around all day if not given the opportunity to learn to relax and sleep.
The Fi sleep tracker shows how much time during a day your dog is sleeping, napping or awake, and shows this by the hour, day, week, and month. The left screenshot above shows what the app has tracked for my weekly sleep duration.
It also differentiates between sleep and naps (sleep is dark purple, and naps are a lighter shade).
It’s not clear how it does this and whether it’s mainly based on the time of day your dog is still (i.e. naps are during the day, sleep is at night), but I’ve found it to be reasonably accurate.
You can see a couple of days (Thursday and Saturday) where I had a lot of nap time, which isn’t necessarily wrong, as my parents alternate my higher-activity days with calm days at home.
An example of the Fi’s hourly sleep tracking is shown on the right of the image above. This is the Sunday from the weekly sleep tracking shown on the left.
This is a typical day, where I wake up between 6-7am, go for a walk, play and bumble around for another hour or so, and then spend most of the day alternating between naps and moving around the house.
On that particular day I went out in the early afternoon for a frisbee game, and then hung out around the house until around 8.30pm when I slept on the sofa with my parents until going into my crate for bedtime.
Using the Fi app
My parents like the Fi app and find it clean and easy to use. Some may say the app is overly-simplistic in terms of activity tracking as it mainly tracks your dog’s steps and GPS location points (as well as acting as a dog sleep tracker).
Simplicity, however, means they like the easy-to-use functionality – and – hey, I’m a dog, not a pro athlete (yet).
With that in mind, I don’t think anyone in my family feels the need to get much more granular in terms of the details of my activity just yet, tracking steps and my sleep is enough.
In the future, though, perhaps a good direction for Fi to investigate would be heart rate tracking – imagine the possibilities!
We all know that for humans doing ‘X amount of exercise at a heart rate within a given range’ is better than just doing ‘X steps in a day’, so this would be an awesome feature.
Not sure how they’d get a good heart rate reading past all my hair, though…
How much does the Fi Dog Collar cost?
The Fi Smart Dog Collar costs $149 at the time of writing this Fi dog collar review – that includes either a grey or yellow smart dog collar and the main matchbox-sized small GPS device mounted on it, together with the base station that you plug in at home.
If you use our code 4C83FW via this link you’ll receive an extra band free of charge which is nice if you like to mix-up your look to keep your instagram followers entertained. 🙂
You should probably also purchase a Fi Collar subscription, as this is needed to access all the GPS-specific features used by the Fi collar, including the important ‘lost dog’ mode.
The subscription costs $99/year, or $8.25/month, and gets your dog’s collar added as a device to the LTE-M low power cellular network, which was specifically designed for such devices, and offers 20-30% more cellular coverage in the US than 3G networks.
My parents have this subscription, so this Fi collar review is as in-depth as it could be, covering the GPS-specific features of the Fi Collar dog GPS tracker.
As of 2021 you can also buy the Fi smart dog collar online at Chewy.com, although you won’t be able to use our discount code on their site.
Do you need a Fi Subscription to use the Fi GPS Dog Collar as a dog tracker?
A subscription gives your parents access to the full capabilities of your dog’s Fi collar – allowing for remote access to your location and activity.
The cost of the subscription covers the GPS/LTE connection to the Fi collar – effectively, making it into a mobile device.
Without a subscription, the Fi collar will still function – but if you go outside the range of your peoples’ smartphone or your Fi Base, then nobody can use the Fi Collar’s functionality to locate you.
This kind of defeats the point of one of the key functions of the Fi Dog Collar, that is, so that people can track you and have a much better chance of finding you if you wander off, so it seems that if you are considering getting your dog a Fi GPS collar, then you should get the subscription.
What cell / mobile phone network does the Fi Dog Collar use?
The Fi Dog Collar uses the AT&T network for locating your dog when he or she is out of the house alone, as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-based safe zones.
Your own mobile phone does not have to be on the AT&T network for your Fi GPS Collar to work, the two are unrelated.
How do you remove the Fi GPS Dog Collar’s metal clips?
You may want to remove the metal clips from the Fi collar dog tracking device so that you can switch out the collars that you attach the Fi collar to.
Quite a few dog collar brands are making ‘Fi-compatible’ collars, which is pretty nice if you want a specific custom collar for your dog but also want to have the Fi device attached to it.
We’ve been asked this question a lot, and it’s most easily explained in a video – see below for a demonstration of how to detach those clips.
My parents also attached my Fi dog tracker unit to my favorite Ruffwear collar, which isn’t a ‘Fi-compatible’ collar but they engineered it to work!
What Dog collar sizes are available and can you use the Fi Collar for cats?
No. The Fi smart dog collar is far too big for a pet cat to wear, unfortunately, and that goes for tiny dogs too.
This is a shame as a Fi collar for a cat would be great and I’m sure my feline brothers Coby & Champers would love to wear their own smart cat collar and look as cool and high-tech as me.
This leads me on to the Fi smart dog collar sizes that are available for purchase:
- Small – 11.5″–13.5″ neck
- Medium – I wear a size medium Fi collar, as my neck fits in the 13″–16.5″ neck size range. In case I forgot to mention earlier, I’m a border collie and I weigh roughly 45 lbs.
- Large – 16″–22.5″ neck
- Extra Large – 22″–34.5″ neck
To see a more detailed sizing chart visit Fi’s dog collar sizing chart and guide here.
Fi Dog Collar Review (VIDEO)
Fi Collar Review: Is the Fi Dog Collar the best GPS Dog collar?
Certainly on features, the Fi Dog Collar is one of the best dog tracking collars out there. By virtue of the long battery life, streamlined design and robust good looks, we’ve found it to be a great investment that I wear every day.
It gives my parents peace of mind that if I roam further than intended, they can quickly track me down and get me back safely.
I hope you enjoyed my Fi collar review and please let me know if you have any questions in the comments section below.
If you’re looking for cool gifts to give the adventure-loving dog in your life, also check out our best dog gifts list for more ideas!