As we – finally – welcome in the new year, many of us will be making the age-old resolution to lead a healthier lifestyle.
For a lot of people, that means upping the exercise and investing in a fitness tracker to monitor this increased movement.
And now, such technology has been extended to our four-legged friends. So if you’re looking to up your walking and want to bring the dog along for the ride, then you can both check your distance.
The fitness tracker is called PitPat and it is already being used by 80,000 pups around the world. Collectively users have clocked more than a billion hours of activity, according to the company.
I was keen to test it out on my own dog to see what it was all about.
When it arrived, I was pleased to see it was a fairly small device (about the size of a 50p piece, although chunkier). My dog is not a small dog by any means but I was worried that if it was big he might try and shake it off, as the PitPat straps on to the collar. Turns out my worries were unfounded.
When setting up the tracker, using an app you can download onto your Apple or Android phone, you are asked a number of questions about your pet that will ultimately determine what goals will be set. These include your dog’s age as well as its breed.
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In the case of my hound Rafferty, who has just turned three years old and is a Basset Fauve de Bretagne, it recommended 50 minutes of daily activity.
I found the set up very simple. Once the app was downloaded and questions were answered it was just a case of getting out and doing the walking.
Given that the PitPat claims to be robust as well as waterproof, I was eager to get out with Raff and find some puddles. Rafferty loves water and mud so would be the perfect guinea pig to put those claims to the test.
Our first walk out with the PitPat involved diving into a pond as well as a vigorous play fight with a border collie pup – and to my relief the device remained unharmed.
Since then, we have used it daily for around two months and it hasn’t shown any signs of wear and tear.
Collecting data at the end of the day is pretty straightforward. You fire up the app and press the icon that looks like the device itself and it sends the day’s data over via Bluetooth. If you forget for a couple of days the app will send you a notification and any data from the missing days is transferred (so it’s not a case of you having to remember each day or the data is wiped).
As for what is actually in the data, I found the breakdown of information really interesting. The app gives you a daily chart of activity showing how many minutes your dog has been walking, running and playing, how much that totals to, as well as how many hours they have spent resting and ‘pottering’.
There is also data on how many calories burnt as well as their distance in miles.
A graph at the bottom of the daily breakdown charts the times when they were least and most active.
Another interesting feature is the digital ‘badges’ your dog can receive as they continue to use the app and their miles total up. For example, Raff has just received ‘The Length of the Thames’ badge that means he has walked the equivalent length of the Thames (183.9 miles) since using the device.
In terms of if the device has helped enhance our daily walks, I’d say yes. Much like the buzz of a human fitness tracker when you’ve remained static for too long, PitPat has helped us (me!) to remain motivated during the colder months, knowing I should really hit that 50 minute mark.
I can imagine it is particularly helpful if your dog is trying to get down to an ideal weight.
As mentioned, I haven’t had any concerns with the performance of the device/app and as the former has a year long battery life (that can be replaced), it has really just been a case of setting it up and then forgetting it’s even on Raff.