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Have you gotten in your 10,000 steps today? What's your average heart rate? How are you sleeping? If you're one of the 19 million or so people wearing a fitness tracker (like the Fitbit Charge, Garmin Vivosmart or Jawbone UP24, to name just a few), you can probably rattle off those answers with ease. If you haven't started tracking, you probably will. According to recent data from Juniper Research, the number of units in use is set to triple over the next three years, reaching around 57 million in 2018, according to VentureBeat.
But if you are like many of us, you may put off doing things that are good for your own health but will make sure your pooch is OK. And that's where a dog activity tracker could come in handy. This tech, which looks to be the next big trend, can be a fantastic tool for tracking your dog's activity trends and provide tremendous motivation to get a bit more fit with your four-legged workout buddy this year. Plus, keeping an eye on that data can give you some helpful information to discuss with your vet, especially if your dog is one of the many who could stand to lose a couple of pounds.
Like with fitness trackers designed for humans, dog activity trackers can be used for a variety of purposes. The most common are:
But here's where it's special for dogs. If you're away from your pet for a substantial portion of the day Monday through Friday, there's no way for you to know whether your dog sleeps from the time you leave until you come home or if she's doing the Bichon blitz and running around the house like a nut. An activity tracker gives you that data, which gives you a more accurate idea of just how active your pup is.
Before you put your dog on a new exercise routine, be sure to check with your vet to be sure that your plan is right for your pet. Also, if you have two dogs and they like to roughhouse and chew on each other's collars, putting a small electronic device on those collars isn't such a great idea.
If your vet gives you the go ahead, you still have to find the right tracker. We spent some time researching several new and popular models to see which ones are the best, and one thing became clear very quickly: no single tracker is the right choice for every dog and his owner. They each offer something a bit different, and where as one might have GPS tracking, another might provide a variety of visual alerts, and yet another might come with its own supportive community of active dog lovers for you to join.
To help you find the best fit for you and your pup, we checked out the Tagg GPS Plus Pet Tracker, StarWalk by Dogtra, Whistle Activity Monitor and FitBark, looking at everything from price to battery life to whether it can be used internationally and more. All units reviewed are small enough to easily fit on a collar, waterproof, and have free mobile apps that work on both iOS and Android platforms, which can be accessed by multiple mobile devices for the same dog.
Notable features: The Tagg GPS Plus Pet Tracker stands out because of its GPS technology. It's slightly larger than the other monitors on this list, but it's still small and light enough to be worn by small dogs. Like the original Tagg that came out in 2012, the new version tracks both activity and location, so while on a typical day you can see how much time your dog has spent resting, moving around and playing hard, should she happen to get loose, you could track her. In fact, you can even set a "home" area and be alerted if your dog wanders outside that boundary.
Additional features worthy of note are an ambient temperature sensor and an upcoming partnership between Tagg and Alarm.com, which will provide pet owners with a way to keep tabs on their pets' activity with real-time notifications and video.
In addition to the mobile app, Tagg offers a
Web-based app, both of which can track multiple dogs (both activity and location) and be accessed by
multiple people (the dog walker, other family members, etc.) who have the login information. The app allows owners to customize each profile with
animal type, name, gender, birthday, weight, breed, color, height and
photo. Sharing directly to Facebook from the app is available.Price: It's currently on sale for $99.95 (down from $119.95 until January 15), available for preorder now and shipping in February. A unit comes with two months of free service, but runs from $7.95 (if you buy 12 months at a time) to $9.95 per month after that. This is the only device listed that has a monthly fee, but it's also the only one that uses GPS.
Size: The unit itself is about a .75-inch-by-1.5-inch-by-1.5-inch rectangle, the wings (which go on the collar) are 4.25 inches long, and the weight is 1.3 ounces.
Can it be used internationally? No.
Battery information: There's a big range here. Each unit comes with a docking station, which is where the unit charges; however, the docking station also maximizes battery life by reducing drain on the battery when it's within range. It can theoretically last as long as 20 to 30 days if the dog is always at home near the docking station, or as little as three or four days if the dog is always farther from the docking station or the docking station is not powered. For most users, the answer falls somewhere in between.
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