Locating and keeping track of your dog in the field can be a challenge, especially when hunting in heavy cover or with a far ranging dog. Using a beeper collar (locator) or a beeper system will provide you with an audible noise, usually in the form of a beep or hawk scream to aid in the location of your dog. Most beepers nowadays also have an accelerometer sensor and 3-axis sensor to determine if the dog is running or stopped, and can be programmed to produce different sounds based on that information. In the following article, I will explain the various types of beepers, why a beeper can be useful, and disadvantages and concerns of using a beeper, along with some alternatives that offer a similar result.
Types of Beeper Collars
Dog beeper collars come in several different styles and control methods, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. The three types of beepers are:
Standalone Beeper - A locator in which settings cannot be changed after placing on the dog
Transmitter Controlled Add-On Beeper - The preferred type for its functionality and convenience
Transmitter Controlled Integrated Beeper - A compact, all-in-one unit with less hassle
For a more in-depth breakdown of the three types, continue reading below.
The standalone beeper, as stated above, is a locator that is purchased as only a beeper collar and is used without a remote transmitter. These beepers have a few different settings that can be used, depending on your preferences.
The common settings for standalone beepers:
Single Beep on Run, Double Beep on Point
Silent on Run, Beep on Point
Silent on Run, Hawk Scream on Point
Beep on Run, Hawk Scream on Point
Standalone beepers have their mode set before putting the beeper on the dog’s collar. Once on the dog’s collar and the hunt has begun, there is no way to turn on/off the collar or change the modes. This drawback could make you wonder why someone would use a standalone beeper when beepers with remote capabilities exist. One of the major advantages of a standalone beeper is the low price for consumers. Without needing the hardware to connect with a remote transmitter, these beepers are able to reduce the amount of hardware, which then results in a cost reduction. Standalone beepers are also great for trainers that already have an e-collar or tracking system that is not compatible with beepers.
Remote transmitter controlled add-on beepers collars are the most popular style of locators available. These beepers can either be purchased as an addition to a compatible e-collar system or as a bundle. Remotely activated locator collars have similar functionality to standalone beepers as to their style of beep. For example, the beeper is silent on run with double beep on point. However, these beepers can be turned off and on using a compatible remote transmitter and e-collar.
The beeper unit itself is not directly controlled by the remote transmitter; instead, the transmitter communicates with the e-collar. When the e-collar receives a command for the beeper, it passes those instructions to the beeper. This allows for a simpler construction of the beeper, since the e-collar already has the hardware to handle receiving transmissions from a distance. With “add-on” beepers, they are generally on the same dog collar as the e-collar, with the e-collar on the bottom of the neck and locator on top, pointed at the sky.
Remotely controlled beepers also have the added benefit of having a “locate” function. This allows you to run the beeper on silent until needed; at which point, the hunter is able to activate the beeper via the transmitter to determine the location of the dog. This is a great feature for when the dog is out of range or is on point in thick cover and out of view of the hunter.
The last style of beeper collar is the remotely control integrated beeper, which is a beeper that is built into the e-collar. This design is currently only being produced by Dogtra, who introduced this concept with their 2500 T&B System and has since been improving with their 2700 T&B System and the T&B Dual System.
This style of locator works exactly like the other remotely controlled beepers, but has the added advantage of the beeper being built directly into the e-collar; thus, allowing for a single battery and single point of charging. The majority of remote controlled beepers are often powered with a non-rechargeable, replaceable battery. The cost of replacing these batteries can add up over time. In the cases where the beepers are rechargeable, you now have a charger for the beeper and the e-collar.
One disadvantage of this particular design is the location of the beeper horn. With it being built into the e-collar, the beeper horn is now located under the dog’s neck. This most often results in it pointing at the ground and can cause the sound to not carry as far as a beeper that it pointed up at the sky.
Why Use a Beeper?
Now that the types of beepers have been discussed, let’s delve into why a hunter would want to use a beeper collar on their hunting dog in the first place. The main reason for a beeper collar is to know the location of your dog when they are out of line of sight or in thick cover. A beeper’s loud sound allows the hunter to use Binaural Hearing to determine dog’s location and by using the Doppler Effect, the hunter can determine the direction the dog is running. Binaural Hearing, essentially defined as “hearing with two ears,” allows humans to perceive sound direction in an environment by sensing small differences in sound between their two ears. Doppler Effect is the hearing of a sound increasing or decreasing over time, which with a beeper an increasing sound means the dog is running towards you, and a decreasing sound means the dog is running away.
With a locator being able to be set to have either a different beep or multiple beeps while running and on point, a beeper also gives the ability to know if your dog is running or stopped. Lastly, some beepers produce a sound that mimics a hawk scream (believed to be indistinguishable to nearby wildlife) while the dog is on point. Some hunters strategically use this particular setting, as it consequentially causes the game bird to hold tight, fearing that a nearby hawk would seize it if it were to fly away. Theoretically, this works to the advantage of the hunter, providing more time to get to the game bird and flush it up for a more controlled shot.
Disadvantages and Health Concerns of Using Beepers
Beepers have a few concerns and disadvantages to their use. Arguably the largest issue with using beepers is that a very loud sound is produced; a sound so loud that when staff are testing or demonstrating beepers in the store, we place our hand over the horn and the volume is still quite alerting. It goes without saying that this can damage the dog’s ears. Beepers are designed to be able to be heard from several hundred yards away. This is good for the hunter, as the louder the noise, the easier it is to hear from a distance. However, it is important to note that these beepers are located right behind the dog’s head. Dogs with their sense of hearing being 2 to 4 times better than humans are having this beeper blasting off only inches away from their ears. This can and often unfortunately does result in hearing loss in dogs that are frequently run with beepers.
Furthermore, the whole concept of a beeper is to alert the hunter of the location of the dog. This also proves true for the wildlife in the nearby vicinity. The loud beeps can alert “beeper wise” game to leave the area. Additionally, some dogs can be “beeper shy,” and freezing up when the beeps go off or become panicky while the beeper is in use.
Alternatives to Beepers
One alternative to using a beeper collar that still provides a safer, audible tone would be using a dog bell. If you are unfamiliar, dog bells are exactly as they sound. They are bells attached to the dog’s collar. The bells create an audible tone or ring while the dog is running, using the motion of the dog’s movement to work a clapper that smacks off the side walls of a bell. Bells come in several different sizes and styles that affect the tone of the bells that help the hunter hear the bell at close or greater distances. For more on dog bell tones, see our “Low Tone vs High Tone Bells” article. The one disadvantage to bells is that the dog needs to be moving for it to produce noise, meaning that an on-point dog is silent.
Dog GPS Tracking Systems
Personally, I find the best alternative to be a GPS Tracking System. A dog GPS Tracking System provides the hunter with GPS location of the dog at all times, even out to ranges as far as 9 miles, depending on the system and terrain. Unlike beepers, a GPS system does not produce any sound that could damage the dog’s ears or scare away game. A GPS tracking system also allows for tracking of multiple dogs at one time. One downside to GPS tracking systems is in heavy cover, it is sometimes hard to find the exact location of the dog. The GPS unit will say “near” when you’re within 20-30 feet of the dog. To see our options for GPS tracking systems, see Dog Tracking Systems.
Do you have an old beeper or beeper system that you would like to trade-in for new equipment? Lion Country Supply has a great trade-in program that can help you upgrade your electronic gear. We accept both working and non-working systems. For more details see Lion Country Supply Trade-In Program.
If you have any questions on the dog beepers collars, please leave a comment or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Michael Cassatt, Director of Marketing
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