Is your dog “getting her steps in”? Find out by investing in a canine activity tracker!
Activity trackers have taken the world by storm. Almost everywhere you look, someone is wearing one to track everything from steps to heart rate to sleep quality. Not surprisingly, these electronic devices have now edged their way into the dog market.
How activity trackers work
Also known as fitness trackers, activity trackers for canines are designed in a similar way to the human versions. They track your dog’s movement and vital signs using small sensors, and store the information for you (and your veterinarian) to review.
Once information has been received by your dog’s activity tracker, it’s stored internally to be downloaded, or sent via Bluetooth technology to your smartphone or computer. Some products even have cloud storage capabilities, so you can hold onto your pup’s health history for as long as you need.
Two primary versions of canine activity trackers are currently available – devices that are built into a collar, and those that clip onto a dog’s existing collar. It really comes down to personal preference.
What are the benefits?
Obesity is a common problem in dogs. Diet is certainly a factor, but another primary contributor is lack of exercise. Activity trackers can encourage dog parents to walk their canine companions more.
“We jokingly refer to activity monitors as ‘inactivity monitors’, says veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward, Founder and President of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP). “They’re a wonderful way to prove to people that their dogs aren’t getting nearly enough exercise.” Dr. Ward refers to a phenomenon he calls the “myth of the backyard”. Most people assume that their dogs, when turned out into the yard on their own, will run and play. Many years ago, as a way to debunk this myth, Dr. Ward encouraged people to videotape their dogs in the yard. More often than not, the dogs would run the perimeter once, then immediately find a spot to lie down.
Activity trackers are an invaluable awareness tool that encourages people to face the facts about their dogs’ health, and start them on an appropriate exercise program.
Let’s take a look at the special features of some canine activity trackers:
Goal setting functions – Many canine activity trackers are connected to an app that allows you to set lifestyle goals for him. Just enter your dog’s ideal weight, then help him take the right steps to get there.
Space for notes – If your dog’s activity tracker has an app, you can also use it to set reminders for yourself, or to leave messages for his caretaker.
Health comparisons – Certain activity trackers allow you to compare your dog’s health and activity level with those of other dogs, so you can determine how he measures up to others of his breed. This function offers a great way to understand your dog’s habits and behaviours, and figure out whether or not genetics might be the cause.
Feature for tracking lost dogs – Activity trackers with GPS technology allow dog parents to easily find their canine companions if they get lost.
Emergency alerts – Worried about your dog’s well-being while you’re away? Look for an activity tracker that can be programmed to send alerts directly to your phone. If his temperature is off or his heart rate is abnormal, you’ll know immediately.
Waterproof design – If you spend a lot of time outdoors with your dog, a waterproof activity tracker is a must. It might not be able to withstand prolonged time underwater, but a little rain and mud shouldn’t affect it.
Emily Watson is a staff writer for Animal Wellness Magazine and Canadian Dogs Annual. She is a certified yoga and medical Qi Gong instructor and has been writing — creatively and otherwise — for ten years. Off the mat and away from the keyboard, Emily can be found hiking, camping and travelling with her wife and fur babies.