Editors note: the product mentioned in this article has sold out, but you can check out other wearable technology available on Best Buy.
Just like people, weight can sneak up on a dog. If we’re not at home all the time watching over them and making sure they spend more time in the yard and less time on the couch, they can very easily start to get lethargic and out of shape. And just like with humans, once they’re out of shape it becomes really difficult to get them moving and on a plan to better health.
I’ve noticed this with Cleo, my Boston Terrier, after she had knee surgery last year. It was a pretty intensive surgery and she spent a lot of time recovering. Although she was generally a pretty active kind of dog, the kind of dog who loses her mind whenever someone new comes around, she’s definitely slowed down from her puppy days. When the vet said she could stand to lose a few pounds, I wasn’t surprised, but the question was how to do make sure she was even more active when I was already taking her for a daily walk, playing with her outside, and watching what she ate.
That’s why I was so interested in the FitBark. The FitBark dog activity tracker tracks what your dog does all day, every day including all activity, play, and rest. It keeps track of everything via a points system just like in your FitBit or other activity tracker. With a FitBark on my dog Cleo, I got an insider’s view on what she does every day, and I have to say, the results surprised me.
Small, light, and easy to use
The FitBark is small, light, and clips right onto your dog’s collar with a small elastic tie. At first glance you wonder if it’s going to be flimsy when it’s clipped on, but those elastics are really strong. Cleo wore the FitBark for 7 days straight, day and night, and it didn’t fall off once.
Before you use it you’ll have to charge the Lithium-ion polymer battery, but it’s a very simple process. The FitBark includes a USB cable you can plug into the wall or your computer, and the entire charging process takes about 2 hours. Once it’s fully charged, FitBark should be good for up to 14 days.
I received a message via the app at the end of Day 7 that the FitBark needed to be charged. The decreased battery may have been because I was synching via Bluetooth quite a bit, but it definitely didn’t last two weeks.
Racking up those BarkPoints
When we first put the FitBark on Cleo, we had to download the FitBark app to use it. It synchs via Bluetooth, so when you want to know how many points your dog has scored during the day, all you have to do is be near him or her and open the app.
The FitBark app has a lot of different features but the main screen shows her BarkPoints, the amount of points she’s earned, plus her duration of play, activity, and rest. We entered her age, weight, and breed and the FitBark set her points to 3600 per day.
To test it, I put it on her and let her go about her daily routine. The FitBark tracks her points using a 3-axis accelerometer like most activity trackers, and the app made it very easy to see how she was racking up the points.
What really surprised me was how much play and activity she actually had during the day. We’ve had our house up for sale and it’s been chaotic at home, so I really thought she was spending way too much lying around and not enough time getting out and running. It doesn’t help that when I spend time with her at home during the day, her favourite spot is on my chair or lying on the deck in the sun.
But according to the FitBark, she’s pretty active. I never realized how she was getting her play in by tussling with our other dog Polly or how beneficial her daily walk really is.
For 7 days straight I tracked her every movement, and although she did rest quite a lot, she easily made her points every day. Take last Sunday for example-Cleo was active for 9 hours, she played for 1:41 hours, and she had 13 hours of rest including the evening.
Those kinds of days make me happy, because an active dog is a healthy dog, and a healthy dog will hopefully have a long and happy life.
It’s the little things you don’t want to worry about
We all take our dogs for a walk in the rain or snow or even the local watering hole, so if you’re going to track your dog’s fitness you want to be sure that the activity tracker will stand up to the elements.
The FitBark is rated IPX7, and that means it’s waterproof for up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes. This a good thing, because my dogs have never met a pond they haven’t wanted to run straight into. We also always take our walk, rain or shine.
Keep track of your fitness too
The FitBark app doesn’t just track your dog’s activity, it keeps track of any thoughts you have about your dog and his or her health via notes you can add. You can also track your own FitBit through the FitBark app. There’s a spot where you can synch your ‘Human Activity Monitor’
Plus, FitBark uses the data you compile to compare your dog to other dogs of the same breed, so if you track your dog for a few weeks instead of a few days, you should get a more accurate goal for him or her. I love the idea of seeing how she compares to other Boston Terriers, and judging by how often we get stopped by other Boston owners when we walk, I know they’d be interested too.
My dogs are a big part of my family, and it makes sense to want to keep them healthy and happy. Because exercise is such an important part of a dog’s life, the FitBark really gives me an inside view of what’s going on with my pooch’s activity during the day.
It’s also great to have this type of information if you need to monitor declining health for a vet. Because dogs don’t talk and share their problems, the FitBark data can help them make a more accurate diagnosis when they are sick.