Beeper collars use a motion sensor to determine what the dog is doing and “beep” based on the user's settings so the owner knows from far away what their dog is up to. This is mainly used by hunters and search dog handlers who work their dogs off-leash from a distance.
It is not a tracker in the traditional sense: it doesn't record the dog's track; it doesn't have a GPS; it simply beeps to help you know where your dog is and how they are moving.
We used the Beeper during search training, but it is also popular among hunters.
For us, it is helpful because I can hear the dog from much farther away than when using a bear/cowbell that most wilderness search dogs wear. It also tells me when the dog stops moving. Latter can mean that the dog found something that they are investigating or that they are stuck/injured and cannot move. In this case, I want to find them as soon as possible, and a beeper can be much handier in finding the dog's exact location faster and more accurately than their GPS collar that only gives you an approximate location.
The Beeper is a simple module on a collar. It can be used independently (as we did); paired with some of SportDOG Brand's six compatible e-collars, or as part of the SD-1875 training system. When used with a compatible handheld unit, you can change the collar's tone remotely from up to 1 mile.
If you use it as a standalone Beeper, you can manually turn it on and off by pressing the button and change the sounds by keeping the button pushed. There is a small light on it for feedback on the beeper status, but that's not there to provide visibility in the dark. The module is straightforward to use once you set the tone and mode.
The Beeper has a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. It charges in 2hours and lasts 60-80 hours per charge, which is impressive.
It has nine tones and three modes. The modes let you set to make one beep every 5 or 10 seconds while the dog is moving and then changing to a beep every second when the dog stops. You can also choose to only beep when the dog stops. The tones are:
1.High Volume Beep
2.High Volume Hawk
3.Double High Beep
4.Bob White Quail Call
5.High Falling to Low Beep
7.Double High Falling to Low Beep
8.Low Volume Beep
9.Low Volume Hawk
Here is a video by SportDOG showing how each sound option sounds.
The “Beeper training” took much longer than expected with Mia. Since I know she is on the sensitive end of the spectrum, I started with having the beeper beep on the ground with the quietest tone and playing, working with Mia around it. Once she was okay with that, I had it on me for walks and hikes, so she got used to hearing it around her, then I finally put it on her after weeks of slow desensitization.
When she was finally comfortable hearing the beeps, we had a false fire alarm in our building, and we needed to evacuate from the 5th floor, taking the stairs while fire alarms beep unreasonably loudly above us. This resulted in Mia stressing out again when I turned the Beeper on around her, so we stepped back.
After almost two months of this process, we could finally search with the Beeper. It was very helpful and informative for me; Mia's position was always audible, making it easier to keep track of her while navigating in dense areas.
In the beginning, there were still some situations when hearing an unexpected beep threw her off task, but she got used to it eventually. This process is usually not this problematic; most dogs handle Beepers well. I just wanted to mention Mia's struggle in case others want to try it with a sensitive dog.
I didn't mind using the UplandHunter Beeper without a remote control since I just need to turn it on when we start and off when we are done.
Setting up the mode and tone required a few tries, but the Beeper was very easy to use once we had that in place. I have no reason to doubt that the beeps should be audible up to 500 yards (~450 meters). This collar is louder than expected!
The module is designed to be the loudest when you face it, and it is significantly quieter if you turn it. This makes it quieter for the dog while provides maximum audibility towards the environment.
I only disliked that I could not attach it to their TEK 2.0 GPS's collar band, so we need to have two separate collars on Mia when working. I believe it can be used on the same collar with most of their training modules and with TEK 1.5, but TEK 2.0's collar strap is too broad to fit it.
Altogether this Beeper is an excellent addition for anyone whose dog works away from them. If one is not ready to invest in a serious GPS system, but still wants to have a better feeling where they are, this Beeper is doing a pretty good job in letting you know the dog's approximate location and if they are moving or standing. In addition, it is pretty durable and waterproof (submersible up to 25 feet), so you don't need to worry about it in any weather.
You can buy the different TEK tracking and training systems or the Beeper as a standalone product on SportDOG Brand's website.