We all know about the craze for wearable tech, even if we don’t personally own a Fitbit or similar ourselves. But what about dog activity monitors? Ewelina and I had often wondered just how active our border collie Archie was. On hikes he would run ahead and back to us numerous times. We felt sure he was covering 3 or 4 times the distance we did but had no way of knowing. Then recently our pet insurance offered to supply a PitPat dog activity monitor for a free 6 month trial. The following our my thoughts about this British made device after almost a week of use.
PitPat Dog Activity Monitor – The Hardware
The device is a very lightweight plastic with a strip of velcro that attaches to your dog’s existing collar. The company claim the device is waterproof with an IP67 rating and contains a replaceable button cell type battery. The battery apparently lasts one year in normal use. Discreet in use, it’s unlikely anyone including your dog will realise it’s attached. The device captures motion using a three-axis accelerometer. Based on data from over 200 breeds of dog they are then able to distinguish what the motion relates to. The data is stored as either walking, running, playing and resting. Playing is basically where the device detects changes in speed from running to walking and quick changes in direction.
Since the device is only a week old we cannot comment on reliability. Having looked at other reviews, the vast majority are positive with just a few stating the device stopped working after a few months. The item currently retails for £39.99 which includes free shipping, a one year warranty and a 14 day returns policy. To buy it and for more information you can visit their website, http://www.pitpatpet.com/
PitPat Dog Activity Monitor – The Software
To make use of the data being recorded by the device requires you to download a free app. The app is available for both Android and iOS. We found the app easy to use and intuitive. I would also say that the screens of data within the app are attractively designed. To transfer data from the device to the smartphone app requires you to switch on bluetooth. Then you simply click a large button on the device which sends the data to the app.
When setting up the app you need to enter information about your dog. This information includes the dog’s name, breed, sex, date of birth and weight. You can even add a photo of your dog. The data you give is then used to come up with a suggested activity goal given in minutes. The image below shows this data for Archie, our Border Collie. At the bottom you will see that the dog icon is highlighted white showing which screen you are currently looking at. The app can support and track a total of 3 PitPat dog activity monitors should you have more than one dog. You can also edit the data at any time which could be useful to record a change in weight.
The next screen is like the default screen. It shows the activity for the current day. The graph highlights the hours where your dog was active and also states calories used. The icon at the top of this screen to the right of Archie’s photo represents the device itself. When pressed you will be prompted to press the button on the device to sync / update the current day’s data.
The final screen shows the activeness of your dog on a daily basis. The image below is this screen for our dog. The dark orange bars show that the target was reached or exceeded. The light orange bars represent days where the target was not reached. It should be noted that on September 17th the device was added to Archie’s collar in the evening which is why the score is so low. You don’t need to sync the device on a daily basis. There were complaints initially that the bluetooth file was too large to send if you failed to sync daily but an app update resolved this. I can’t say how much data can be stored but the company seem to say that syncing weekly should be OK.
Any of the bars in the image above can be pressed to reveal that day in more detail. Doing so reveals a screen like the one below. The PitPat dog activity monitor breaks down the activity between playing, walking, running and resting. You can drag your finger across the screen at the bottom where the time shows. This then changes the data above. Interestingly this seems pretty accurate in my initial tests. For example on Saturday 23rd September I had to drive to Norfolk with Archie. As a result he wasn’t really active until mid afternoon and the app does indeed reflect this.
PitPat Dog Activity Monitor – Summary
After a week of use I’ve been relatively impressed by the device. The price seems about right and the app really has been designed well. Unfortunately the device doesn’t answer the question we really wanted to know which is how many miles Archie covers. Whether this is too complex to achieve for dogs I’m not sure but it would certainly be a welcome addition if it could be added somehow via an app update.
I suppose in reality most of us know whether our dog is getting the exercise they need. Therefore maybe the PitPat dog activity monitor really only appeals to gadget loving dog owners. If you think you can see a use for such a device then why not check out their website.