First time ecollar question

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First time ecollar question

Postby dgkula » Wed Nov 18, 2020 9:05 am


I have a 4.5 month old GWP and would like to get a collar for her. I live in MA and she does get out there while hunting to the point where I cant hear her bell in thick cover. I'm using a little jingle bell from New England Bells and am going to get a larger bell (Sunkhaze medium nickle) so I can hear her better as she gets further out.

I'm torn between the Garmin 550 pro plus and the Dogtra 2700 T&B. A LOT of people on forums have tracking capability as a "just in case" and there are stories of dogs running off for hours and in some cases days that seem to cause people to buy these tracking devices. In my limited experience, my biggest problem is likely to be finding her when she is on point - but thats going to be within 100 - 200 yards so a GPS seems like overkill and I am thinking that the locate button on the T&B should do it. It doesnt sound fun to have to use the Garmin handheld (or an add-on Garmin watch) to locate the dog, looking down at something versus looking where I'm going listening for the locate tone.

But then I come back to these stories about dogs that would have been lost without the ability to find them 3 miles away with a GPS. Is this really likely? Did people lose dogs all the time pre-GPS?

Anyone have any feedback?

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Re: First time ecollar question

Postby Densa44 » Wed Nov 18, 2020 10:50 am

Hi David, welcome. There are people here that know a lot more than I do, so please keep that in mind. I wouldn't put a bell on a dog or an e-collar on a puppy. Secondly my dogs work with no collar. The reason is I don't want them getting hung up somewhere where I can't help, but I'm old and you're not so that may not apply.

If the dog will come when called (a great use of an electric collar) you don't really have a problem.

I'd recommend that you join a club or find a way to get some help from a more experienced handler before you put an e-collar on your dog. Remember that you can't put that drive and enthusiasm back in if you take it out.

There are some experts here and if they live near you they can cut years off of your learning curve and perhaps save your first dog. Welcome to the addiction.
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Re: First time ecollar question

Postby ryanr » Wed Nov 18, 2020 1:52 pm

I don't think you'll regret getting a GPS collar and I have the 550 Plus and it's worth it. E-collar and GPS in one easy package and I think you'll find you enjoy hunting without the bell a lot- I know I do.

I'll give you a little story of my younger GWP. As a pup she was good about coming when called and generally stayed close. She was about 8 months old and we were at a vast, rugged State Gamelands looking for spring woodcock. We were finding lots of them, along with my older dog. She was exploring and using her nose when she crossed a tiny stream and up into a young stand of beech. I'm thinking she's smelling a grouse and let her explore a bit. A minute or two later I call her and nothing. Wait a second, call her again, louder this time. Nothing. Hmm, this is a dog that up until now does not take off or wander. She's so good I haven't even collar conditioned her yet. Exact opposite of my older dog. We cross and go looking for her and still nothing after 20 minutes of calling her. Now I'm really worried. I put my coat down near where I saw her last and continue searching. It's been almost and hour and now it starts snowing and I'm getting cold. I decide to hike the mile back to the truck and grab another coat. Just as we're getting back to the truck, this little, wet wirehair comes bounding along behind us happy as a clam. I collapse to my knees, hugging her and practically with tears of joy and relief. After that I put the GPS collar on her instead of the older one (only reason I hadn't done do before was I was afraid I'd accidentally use the e-collar function on her. A week later she had 3 deer take off in front of her and she was off to the races and was quickly out over 900 yards in the middle of a thick forest of laurels and pines. Still not fully collar condition but at least I knew exactly what direction to head. She actually tracked herself right back to me. Eventually your GWPs prey drive and desire to hunt is likely going to override the desire to stay close. Get the collar and have some peace of mind. (And yes, I collar conditioned her immediately after that, ;) )
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Re: First time ecollar question

Postby AverageGuy » Wed Nov 18, 2020 5:24 pm


I am a GWP guy for closing in on 40 years now and a Garmin guy for about the same.

Using a 550+ and Instinct watch currently and like em both. Would buy them both again. I still have a 550 and use it for training because I don't have to wait for the GPS connection but the 550+ has near identical training capabilities once it is up and running. The 550 operates better in the house.

I have raised my last two GWP pups using the Garmin GPS and it has in a word been, Excellent. I use the mini collars so my pups can wear them at an early age and it has allowed me to let them explore in cover and learn with minimal interference from me while doing it. I hunt cover a lot and rely heavily on the GPS point location feature guiding me to my dogs.

I will never be without it.
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Re: First time ecollar question

Postby Dmog » Thu Nov 19, 2020 3:36 pm

I do not have experience in the forest hunting grouse, woodcock and such. The bell just would be too much noise for me. I currently use a Garmin Pro 550 plus with tt15 mini's on both my dogs paired with a Garmin Fenix 5. I am very happy with this set up and an improvement over the Dogtra pathfinder I ran for 2.5 years. You can loose your dog pretty easily in the trees, corn, sorghum, grass, and brush. I have had a few tense moments before GPS on very windy days when a dog gets out of voice range. I notice my tone recall lets them know to recall but they have to find you which they typically do once they circle down wind of you. The Dogtra had more range to potentally find a lost/injured dog but the Garmin with the watch lets you keep tabs easily and avoid that scenario.
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Re: First time ecollar question

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Fri Nov 20, 2020 2:27 pm

Personally, I'd go with the new Alpha 200i. They have redesigned the training buttons, you get dog location either of two ways and it has mapping GPS. It seems to answer all of the problems of the 550+ and the Alpha. Take a look anyhow.
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