Daily activity is one of the greatest joys (and health benefits) of owning a furry friend.
While recommendations vary depending on the dog’s breed and size, most need one or two daily walks.
The same can be said for their human companions. A brisk walk helps burn off extra energy and relieve anxiety.
Many even use a dog activity tracker to help measure their fitness levels, setting their exercise goals around daily dog step counts.
Step counting is an accessible metric for improving one’s health. Rather than fixating on losing weight or running a marathon, counting your steps is simple but effective.
A study from the National Institute of Health even concluded that the number of steps is more important than the intensity of your exercise.
Plus, it’s easy — opt for the stairs instead of the elevator or park further away from your work.
Several fun (and affordable) dog activity trackers are available to hold yourself and your pup accountable for your joint fitness pursuits.
Besides, aren’t you curious about how many steps your dog takes compared to you?
I’d long wondered how many steps Nutmeg, my Pembroke Welsh Corgi, takes daily. I figured it had to be at least double my step count with her short legs and tiny feet.
It turns out her daily step count is usually three times mine.
How does a dog fitness tracker work?
A traditional fitness tracker designed for humans measures activity levels with a three-axis accelerometer; these devices are pretty advanced at detecting movement, but they use three data points (X, Y, Z) to help coordinate what your body is doing within a space.
This math gets tricky when measuring canine motion — dogs walk on all fours, so activity trackers must account for up-and-down and side-to-side movement.
Today, smart devices collect this step data and feed it into software that processes additional metrics (such as total calories burned) based on your dog’s weight, height, and health goals.
Most people wear their fitness devices on their wrists or smartphones (most of which come with a built-in accelerometer and fitness app).
Dog activity trackers attach to or are built into a dog collar and are lightweight enough that your pup won’t notice.
Just like fitness monitors designed for people, these canine accessories can tell the difference between the types of movements your dog makes, whether sleeping, scratching, or running.
Plus, many of the devices on the market feature GPS tracking to monitor your dog’s location.
Is a dog activity monitor worth the purchase?
Very basic dog pedometers can cost less than $20. However, these will do little more than count or estimate your dog’s steps.
More advanced devices, such as those that are waterproof or include features like GPS, are closer to $100 to $150.
Some monitors have an initial upfront cost plus a monthly subscription plan to the software that tracks processes, and stores your dog’s health data. This may seem like a steep investment for your pet, but collecting this data is valuable.
Specific trackers can measure metrics like how much or how well your dog sleeps.
Some can determine how often your dog is scratching or basic health parameters like heart rate and calories burned.
This type of data can be beneficial for dogs with medical conditions.
Devices with GPS tracking can also give you peace of mind should you lose track of your dog at the park.
Moreover, owners with anxious or destructive pets can understand how things are going at home via the GPS tracker.
How long is the battery life?
When investing in any gadget, whether for yourself or your puppy, you’ll want to consider the average battery life of the device.
Otherwise, you’ll have to frequently remember to remove the fitness tracker and give it time to charge.
The tracker’s battery behaves much like your smartphone’s battery; the less you use it, the longer the battery charge lasts.
If your dog’s activity monitor can connect with Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, you can extend the battery life a lot — up to six months for some brands.
However, frequent cellular data and GPS use will drain the tracker’s battery faster. The popular Whistle GO Explore model and FitBark 2 Dog Activity Monitor have a built-in rechargeable battery that lasts about two weeks per charge (if used for daily walks outside your home’s Wi-Fi signal).
You can charge the batteries using a basic USB port, which typically takes around 90 minutes to charge fully.
Which dog activity tracking devices are best?
Which canine fitness device you buy depends largely on what information or tools you need.
There are a lot of factors to consider, including cost, battery life, data accuracy, and functionality.
If your dog is an avid swimmer, you’ll want to invest in a waterproof tracker.
Or, if your dog has a medical condition that your vet wants you to monitor, invest in a device with real-time, reliable data-tracking capabilities.
If you’re most curious about the distance traveled on your furry pal’s daily walk, you can probably stick to something simpler and more affordable.
Evaluate what your priorities are, and then take some time to review the different brands. These are three of the more popular options:
PETKIT P2 Dog Fitness Tracker
The PETKIT P2 doggie Fitbit is lightweight, waterproof, and relatively affordable.
You should be able to buy one new one for around $50. The PETKIT P2 comes in different colors if you want to color coordinate.
This device is unique because it uses your dog’s basic data, including sleep quality and activity level, to indicate your dog’s mood.
The other features are otherwise pretty standard.
Whistle GO Explore
If you want something more advanced, but don’t mind shelling out a few extra bucks, check out the Whistle GO Explore tracker.
This option is waterproof, durable, and even has a nifty nightlight.
The Whistle model has a super reliable GPS signal so that you can track down more mischievous pups. The device tracks real-time activity and health data too.
The brand’s app includes a live-chat tool with an actual veterinarian.
FitBark 2 Dog Activity Monitor
The FitBark 2 is a good middle-of-the-road choice.
This device is waterproof, lightweight, and tracks accurate health and behavior data. However, it doesn’t include GPS location tools, so it’s not the right choice for furry escape artists.
The FitBark model is preferred for pet owners with anxious pups, as the device captures a dog’s stress and anxiety levels.
If you’re interested in tracking your dog’s overall health and well-being, doggie Fitbits are an excellent investment.
Talk to your vet about any recommendations, and always take some time to read product reviews from other dog owners.
I opted for the IPuppyGo for Nutmeg. It’s a simple dog fitness tracker that attaches to her collar.
Download the app and start tracking sleep patterns, calorie consumption, and step count.
And a fun little feature, it also uses a mood index to share your dog’s mood. The mood index is tied to activity, so the more active your dog is, the happier she is.
The tracker is lightweight, and the batter lasts for six months.
Use a dog fitness tracker
If you’re looking for a fun, affordable way to keep your pup and yourself accountable for your joint fitness goals, look no further than dog activity trackers.
With features similar to those of people’s fitness monitors, these canine companions can distinguish between sleep, scratching, and running movements.
Not only that, but many of them feature GPS tracking so you can keep tabs on your pup’s whereabouts at the park or anywhere else.
Furthermore, you can measure how much and well your pup sleeps and heart rate and calorie burn — essential info if your dog has any medical conditions.