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Dogtra Pathfinder2: Field Test

An inside look at the upgraded GPS dog training collar from Dogtra.

Dogtra Pathfinder2: Field Test

For over 30 years, Dogtra has produced dog training collars that fit the needs of bird dogs learning the ropes. (Photo By: Kali Parmley)

When it comes to GPS collars to keep track of our bird dogs in the uplands, there aren’t that many players in the game. Dogtra is a common household name to the upland hunting community—especially when it comes to bird dog training tools such as remote bird launchers and e-collars—but also for their GPS collars for pointing breeds and hound dogs.

For over 30 years, Dogtra has produced training collars that fit the needs of bird dogs learning the ropes. Especially unique about Dogtra collars is their flexibility when it comes to stimulation level control. With 127 levels of stimulation to choose from, handlers can gradually control stim levels, enabling you to reach the exact amount of stimulation tailored to each individual dog you are training.

Dogtra focused on just e-collar training collars until they released the original Pathfinder in 2017. The Pathfinder was unique in that it connected to your phone to track your dogs through an app, rather than to a handheld receiver. We’ve “patiently” been waiting for an update to the Pathfinder system, and we finally have one.

english setter with gps tracking and training collar
Dogtra has long been known for producing dog training collars to meet the demands of hardcore bird hunters. (Photo By: Kali Parmley)

Unboxing the Dogtra Pathfinder2

The Dogtra Pathfinder2 is a complete tracking and training system that connects via Bluetooth to a free app on your smartphone. The app controls all aspects of the collar and tracking, more on that later, but the package also includes a basic remote that features a single button for quick stimulation corrections.

The collar/receiver, remote, and charging cord come packaged in a hard sided case that is padded on the inside to keep all of the contents safe and secure. The case itself is not water or dustproof, but it is still a nice touch to be included in your purchase. If you’re anything like me, collars and chargers are always floating between storage cases in the back of your truck, so this case makes it easy to throw the Pathfinder2 and its components into one spot for easy storage.


The Pathfinder 2 App

Instead of connecting the collar/receiver to a handheld device like other GPS collars, the Pathfinder2 is controlled through the Pathfinder2 app on your smartphone. The app is full of features that are both convenient for you as a hunter, and to control and see your dog’s whereabouts. You can record or track your hunts to see your every movement, measure the distance between you and another waypoint, and even set a timer or stopwatch.

The stimulation level of your collar is set directly through the app. Users control both the nick and constant stim levels for both, and a tone button can also be found in the app. When it’s dark out back at camp, a “locate light on” button lights up your collar with a white light so you can easily locate your curious bird dog as you sit around the fire.

The mapping system on the app works even when not in cell service, which, as we all know, is very convenient. Choose between topo maps or satellite view for more detail. Your dog’s movement is tracked with a colored line and a symbol to show whether they are running, pointing, treed, and more. When you open the app, it immediately asks if you want to mark your truck’s location (yes, yes you do), and the app also shows your location during your hunt with a blue circle and directional arrow.

For those with an Apple Watch or Samsung Galaxy Watch, you can connect the app and collar to your watch and have quick wrist access to the app controls, including stimulation control, map view, compass, and more.

dogtra pathfinder2 dog training and tracking collar
The Dogtra Pathfinder2 app allows you to set waypoints with notes so you can remember exactly where you flushed birds for the next time you hunt that area. (Photo By: Kali Parmley)

The Nitty Gritty

Setup of the collar and app was relatively simple, with some minor technical difficulties when the app was telling me my receiver wasn’t connected. Snooping around the app allowed me to find the switch to fix that problem quickly. The collar/receiver itself is a good middle-ground size for my 50-lbs. setter—because let’s be honest, some GPS collars make your dog look like they are a walking satellite.

Overall, the app is filled with functions that are convenient to uplanders and simple to use and navigate. My gripe of this system: You have to pull your phone out of your pocket too often if you want to see the maps, how far away and where your dog is, and to change stimulation levels. Yes, you can connect it to an Apple or Samsung Galaxy Watch…but I don’t own either of those, and they aren’t cheap.


However, the app does speak to you while your phone is locked and put away. It verbally tells you that your dog is running or on point—so realistically you can pull your phone out only when it tells you that your dog is on point. Make sure your phone battery is fully charged before heading afield, and if you start to get low, consider heading back to the truck—or carry a portable battery charger to give it a boost, because if your phone dies, you can’t locate your dog.

I ran the Pathfinder2 on my setter while hunting Idaho Huns, Utah chukar, and South Dakota roosters. The mapping system on the app showed me the varying terrain and accurately kept track of both me and my dog as he covered miles upon miles to find me wild birds. Nothing is perfect, and my qualms aside of the risk of losing my phone in the uplands, overall, I would give the Pathfinder2 and its unique app and features a positive rating.  

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