My obsession with counting my steps started as soon as I got my own fitness tracker. I started to get competitive, especially when I’d check my stats during the afternoon and discover that I was only a quarter of the way to my 10,000-step daily goal. To help me reach my goal I decided to walk my dog on a longer route than usual. Then I began to wonder: How many steps is Baxter getting per day? I have found that FitBark (www.fitbark.com) is a great way to keep an eye on your dog’s activity level and other health indicators.
Exercise is just as important for your dog as it is for you. With the right amount of activity, you can help your dog stay in great shape, boost up the immune system to ward off any illnesses (diabetes, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, heart conditions, etc.), and maintain an optimal weight to maintain healthy joints. Obesity is a huge issue, with about 40% of dogs being overweight, leading to illnesses and injuries. Keeping your dog active also keeps their mind active, which can help prevent issues that result from hyperactivity.
FitBark is a 2-inch bone-shaped device that weighs only 8 grams (less than 1/3 oz.) and attaches right to your dog’s collar (collar must not be more than 1.5 inches wide). It tracks your dog’s daily activity including: activity counts (also known as BarkPoints which are similar to steps on a FitBit), nocturnal sleep score, overall health index, activity index, calories burned, and distance.
BarkPoints are described by the manufacturer as:
“A proprietary point system that measures physical activity in line with best veterinary practices in terms of ‘activity counts’ generated from 3D accelerometer readings. Accelerometer readings are taken multiple times per seconds and integrated over a 1-minute epoch. A similar point system is widely adopted by researchers who run clinical studies using accelerometers on dogs. In simple words, the more the sensor moves on your dog’s collar, the more points it collects. Resting accounts for few points per minute.”
Each minute of your dog’s movement is allocated into 1 of 3 categories:
- Rest (low energy activity)
- Active (medium energy activity)
- Play (high energy activity)
Rest would be your dog sleeping, Active would be your dog walking, and Play is your dog walking fast or running while playing. Here are some screenshots from my Fitbark app on my phone to give you a sample of the type of information you get.
With this information, you can decide if your dog has had enough exercise for that day or if you need to go on one more walk around the block or to your local dog park. It has also been helpful when I am on vacation and have hired a dog-sitter, because I am able to check my app to see how active Baxter has been that day. FitBark tracks your dog’s sleep pattern and will show you in the app how long your dog was asleep, detects any steps that occurs during the night, and provides a sleep score for that night’s sleep. While tracking their movement, FitBark will also compare your dog’s activity to other FitBark users of the same breed and will give you a percentile so you can see if your dog is above or below the curve.
FitBark stores your dog’s information 24/7 using Bluetooth 4.0; however, a daily sync is recommended but not required. FitBark’s sync range is about 30 feet from your mobile device and has a battery life of up to 14 days. One of my only complaints is that FitBark currently does not have a GPS sensor in case your dog is lost. However, one aspect I love about FitBark is that it is waterproof and can be submerged up to a meter for 30 minutes. FitBark can also be used on other types of animals such as a cat, bunny, pig, sheep, chicken, or any other animal – just simply select the “Not a Dog” list when you are setting up your FitBark.
FitBark comes in a variety of colors including: green, blue, black, red, gray, pink, and purple. FitBark runs for $99.95; however, I have seen the devices on sale down to $69.95. FitBark also offers free shipping worldwide and a 60-day money back guarantee. I now monitor Baxter’s FitBark activity before I look at my my own fitness tracker. Check it out: https://www.fitbark.com/