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Taking care of your dog and making sure all their needs are met can sometimes feel like a full-time job. Have they eaten the right amount of calories for the day? Did they get enough exercise? Are they scratching their ears more than usual, or is that just your imagination?
Enter dog activity trackers—wearable fitbit-style devices for dogs that claim to answer these questions and provide insight into your pup’s health, behavior, and activity levels.
We have to admit they sound appealing. We get a kick out of monitoring our own health goals, after all—why not our dog’s?
The reality, though, is a little more complicated. Devices can be expensive, while others require pricey subscriptions—and is the data you’re getting meaningful or even accurate?
To find out, we dug into the research, did some testing, and spoke to experts like Erin Richardson, Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) and owner of Modern Minds Dog Training. Here’s what we discovered.
How Dog Fitbits and Activity Trackers Work
Just like human health trackers, dog activity trackers keep tabs on overall well-being and daily activity levels. Some can even sync to your personal fitness tracking apps so you can compare stats with your pup and stay motivated to keep fit together.
If your pup needs to shed some pounds, dog activity trackers can help you manage their weight through calorie tracking, nutrition calculators, and daily exercise goals. Some even offer in-depth graphs that allow you to review your pup’s progress, giving you comprehensive data broken down by day, week, month, or year.
Many dog fitbits also monitor changes in behavior and health, alerting you if there’s an uptick in scratching or licking, which can be useful if your pup is prone to allergies or infections.
They can also notify you of any changes in activity levels or sleeping patterns. “Dogs sleep much more than people realize, and a lack of adequate rest can exacerbate behavior issues and can also be a sign of underlying health concerns,” trainer Erin Richardson explains.
For pet parents who need a little extra help staying on top of everything, most dog activity trackers have an option to set up reminders for things like vet visits, vaccinations, and giving your pup their flea and tick meds.
Finally, some dog fitbits also have the option to add subscription-based GPS tracking, which is a strong safety tool if your pup is known for their disappearing acts (a one-pup show no one really wants to attend). GPS trackers are an especially popular peace-of-mind purchase for active pups who like to explore. As Richardson points out, “Even a dog with a near-perfect recall is at risk of getting lost when off-leash in an open area.”
Different Types of Dog Activity Trackers
To help you get a feel for the different types of dog activity trackers out there—and which ones might work for your pup’s specific needs—here are a few of the top-rated devices on the market:
|Product||Price||Weight||GPS Included?||Subscription Required?|
|Fi Smart Collar Series 2||$149||1.3 ounces||Yes||Yes|
|Whistle Go Explore||$119.96||1.3 ounces||Yes||Yes|
Some dog activity trackers prioritize detailed step counting and distance tracking, like the Fi Smart Collar Series 2. The device focuses to an impressive degree on fitness, monitoring a dog’s activity levels and distance traveled. It lets pet parents customize step goals (taking breed and size into consideration) and chart fitness progress over time. You can even opt in to local leaderboards for some friendly competition.
The Fi offers in-depth sleep monitoring, but it doesn’t provide quite as much behavior tracking as other models on the market—though it is an increasingly popular choice for its GPS.
Our testing found the FitBark2 is the device that best caters to pet parents looking for behavioral insights. It offers distance tracking, but its real strength is a wide variety of health-tracking features like lick, scratch, and sleep monitoring.
The FitBark’s mobile app offers an hourly view of a dog’s stress levels, which can be helpful for pups with separation anxiety. No subscription is needed to access all the data (though if you decide you do want GPS, you’ll have to buy a completely different FitBark device, which does come with subscription fees).
For pet parents who want it all—detailed health insights, activity reports, and real-time location tracking—the Whistle Go Explore is the most popular choice. In our testing, we found this device helpful in tracking down one of our own escape artists. We were especially impressed when it noticed Rover Test Pup Sabine’s ear infection before her parents did.
It’s pushing the envelope on health tracking with on-demand access to veterinarians, though the subscription plan to access this and other perks is pricey.
For more dog activity trackers on the market, see our article “The Best Dog Fitbits and Activity Trackers for Monitoring Your Pup’s Health and Fitness.”
What Trainers Say About Dog Activity Trackers and Fitbits
Fitbit-style trackers for dogs can offer real health benefits—and some surprising revelations, as trainer Erin Richardson knows from experience.
Having personally used the Fi collar on their Australian Labradoodle Charlotte, Richardson found it helpful to learn how many miles Charlotte was actually walking. “I discovered that I wasn’t walking her as far as I thought I was,” they say. “It’s been really helpful in making sure she gets the exercise she needs to be healthy and happy.”
Knowing the details of your dog’s daily activities can also help professionals better put together a plan specifically tailored to your pup—from introducing new medication to behavior modification training. In fact, Richardson includes information about dog activity trackers in their training handouts in case dog parents are interested in learning more.
“Many of my clients have dogs that struggle with fearful and/or aggressive behaviors,” Richardson explains. “A fitness tracker is helpful in telling us whether the dog is getting too little exercise—lack of exercise can exacerbate behavior issues.”
The devices aren’t without their issues, however. We’ve found at least a little technical troubleshooting is common. Richardson reports that in the early days, the Fi collar would alert them that Charlotte had left the property when she was actually just in her crate. But after a week, the problem was resolved, and the device has been fairly accurate ever since.
We also spoke with training assistant Mallorie Valdez, who’s shadowed professional dog trainers and certified behaviorists and trained her service poodle, Elijah. She’s an avid user of several dog activity trackers (including FitBark and Fi). Valdez says that the most important benefit has been the ability to make sure her dogs’ needs are met and that they are feeling their best.
“I’m able to check in at a glance to quickly see how active their day has been, what their sleep quality has been like, and even notice trends if they aren’t feeling their best selves,” she says. That can sometimes be critical information, like when Elijah got a foxtail stuck in his paw and the FitBark alerted Valdez to his increased itching. Foxtails are no joke—they can turn deadly for dogs.
“I find that it increases my bond and connection with my dogs and the tracker gives me information that I may otherwise be guessing at,” she says. “When we go on a hike or out camping, I can look at their activity levels and adjust their food accordingly to make sure they get enough calories on those really active days.”
Valdez adds that it’s also been a fun way to keep herself active. “I find that having the tracker actually encourages me to get out and do more with my dogs to make sure that we all meet our step goals,” she says.
Final Verdict: Are Dog Activity Trackers Worth It?
Does a dog need an activity tracker? Probably not. But if you can afford the extra splurge and don’t mind the occasional glitch, then yes—we think dog activity trackers are doing an impressive job of living up to the hype.
They can be especially helpful for breeds that are prone to certain illnesses and obesity. And they’re great at catching changes in behavior, which could be early signs of injury or infection—things that can turn dangerous fast.
A more accurate look at how well your dog is truly exercising is also a worthwhile goal, especially since it can be hard to judge and activity level is often key to tackling behavioral issues.
And the frequent marriage of dog fitbits and GPS trackers makes a lot of the devices practical, peace-of-mind investments.
More simply, they’re often just a fun way to bond with your dog or have a furry fitness buddy for your own health journey.
The short answer? No, a dog fitbit definitely isn’t necessary for your dog to be happy and healthy—but if it’s in the budget, we’ve been surprised to discover that dog activity trackers are some of the funner and more useful dog accessories we’ve come across.
How We Chose Dog Fitbits
The dog fitbits and activity trackers featured here were selected based on a combination of our own hands-on testing, a comprehensive look at customer reviews across a wide variety of retail platforms, and interviews with expert trainers. We prioritized accurate distance tracking, a wide range of health tracking features (including licking, scratching, and sleep), user interface, price, and GPS capability. We’re also guided by the experience of living and playing alongside our own much-loved and strongly opinionated pets, who are never stingy with their feedback.
- The Best Dog Fitbits and Activity Trackers for Monitoring Your Pup’s Health and Fitness
- A Guide to Getting Fit with Your Dog
- Review: The Whistle Go Explore’s Combo of GPS and Activity Tracking Is Hard to Beat
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- Review: The Petkit P2 Dog Activity Tracker Is a Lightweight, Budget Pick