OK you’re probably already thinking: Really, there’s an activity tracker for dogs? I wouldn’t blame you for thinking that’s absurd, but hear me out: I fell into the dog activity tracker game sideways, but I’m now completely obsessed
ICYMI, we have a new addition to our family as of July. His name is Marty and he has quickly ascended the ranks to be my favorite child (and perhaps my largest… he’s getting HEWGE!). He is a big, dorky pile of fur and kisses, and I have been doting on him like crazy— he practically comes everywhere with me.
Yes, we still have Jenny BTW, but she’s getting older now and is a little less mobile. Not running away OR getting much exercise with two bad knees, so no need to get a matching activity tracker for her.
As every single dog owner knows, a puppy’s safety is a huge responsibility, especially when it comes to making sure he doesn’t get loose and run away. That’s why I was eager to test out Whistle, a GPS location tracker for dogs that makes it a breeze to keep tabs on Marty’s location at all times. But Whistle also tracks Marty’s activity too— and that’s where they hooked me.
Set-up was easy: First step, attach Whistle to your dog’s collar. A word about size: The new Whistle 3 is 50% smaller than the old Whistle, and according to the company is suitable for dogs (or cats!) 8 pounds and up. I can assure you that it’s lightweight (less than 1 oz… and waterproof!), but it’s a bit clunky-looking, and most people will notice it and ask you about it. My dog is only six months, but he’s already massive, so I can imagine that on a small dog it would look even chunkier.
Unlike a Bluetooth tracker, which can only track your pup if it’s less than 50 feet away, this one uses cellular technology to ping the collar and find your dog wherever it is. So if you think of it like a doggie cellphone, it actually is quite small! All I care about is that he’s comfortable, and that it didn’t weigh his collar down. It doesn’t. Keep in mind: Whistle does require a paid subscription plan in order to tap into the cellular/GPS network, but it’s just $6.95 a month. Not bad.
Once Whistle is on your pet’s collar, connect it to the Whistle app in a few simple steps. Then, designate his “safe” place by drawing a geo-fence around your home, so the app can alert you if he leaves the premises. Also you’ll need to add your home’s Wifi to the app, so Whistle can connect while you’re home (Whistle goes into a battery-saver mode when you’re home; too much time away and the battery runs down).
I found this out the hard way when I sent him to my dog sitter for the weekend; the battery ran down in less than 24 hours (I forgot to charge it to 100% before he left, too). The next time I sent him, I had my dog sitter add himself as one of Marty’s “humans” and add his home (and Wifi) as a second “safe” place. This time, I was gone for a week, and the battery was charged to 100% when he left, and was still ticking when we were reunited.
Once you’re all set up, if your pet happens to traipse beyond Wi-Fi range, Whistle will alert you that he’s left home, and send you an approximate address of where he’s off to. From there, the app can ping the collar, so you can track him as he tears through the neighborhood (heaven forbid!) What a relief, right?
Whistle is a GPS tracker, so I know Marty’s safe and sound at all times. But it’s also a fitness tracker meaning that, in addition to GPS, it comes with an accelerometer that calculates intensity and minutes of activity for your pet. This means that I can actually customize activity goals based on Marty’s breed, weight and age. And this is the feature that I didn’t count on loving as much as I do, given that I’ve never really taken to fitness trackers or step counters for myself (and believe me, I’ve tested them all).
I can only attribute it to that feeling I had when I had a newborn (human) and used to chart how many times he peed and pooped, and how much breast milk he drank, so I could be sure he was healthy. I love the feeling of knowing that Marty’s getting lots of good exercise, and then trying to outperform each day while slowly raising the baseline fitness goal, so we can keep breaking records.
The app will show you how many miles your dog has walked, but what the route was, as well as how many minutes of activity he’s had during the day (because that often includes zooming around the backyard). You can also earn badges and track “streaks” in the app; Marty has exceeded his fitness goals for the last 14 days, and is closing in on 100 miles traveled with his Whistle!
Best of all, I love correlating his exercise to my own exercise. For example, if I notice he’s having a particular lazy day, it motivates me to get moving, too. A win-win. And while time has proven that I won’t wear a fitness tracker reliably on my person (since I’m his primary dog walker, that means I’m closing in on 100 miles in the last month, too).
So, what do you think? Would you try this for your pup? Let me know in the comments below.