If your off-road riding companion happens to have four legs rather than two, then you’ll probably be aware that it’s pretty hard to accurately monitor just how much exercise they’re getting.
The Fitbark is a really smart solution, taking technology from human activity monitors and applying it to dogs.
The unit is very lightweight and attaches to the collar via a simple rubber band that’s proven extremely secure.
Rather than GPS, which requires loads more power and therefore bulk, the Fitbark simply uses an accelerometer. After inputting your dog’s weight and breed, you can then set targets relative to similar dogs and as your pup moves about, it accumulates ‘Bark points’ towards this target.
It’s possible to set the unit up to measure distance too, by talking your dog for a 1km walk and then seeing how many points have been accrued.
It’s lasted for almost a fortnight without needing a USB charge of its in-built battery and the memory will store multiple days worth of exercise if you don’t get a chance to upload the activity to your phone over a Bluetooth connection — which is where you can analyse the information via an app.
It’s also possible to buy a WiFi base station to forward that info over the internet, so you don’t need to be physically near your dog to check in on activity — ideal for when you might be away from home for a while and other people are taking care of it.
The app itself is really good, with some initial bugs quickly being ironed out via regular updates from Fitbark. There are a number of visual displays that show day-to-day and hour-by-hour activity.
One of the best features of the Fitbark is that it breaks down your dog’s activity by intensity, categorising it as rest, active or play. In doing so, it allows you to see what your dog is up to when you’re not about.
For example, if your dog is highly active when left alone and doesn’t settle down, it’s an excellent indicator of separation anxiety. If your dog regularly moves and shuffles about during resting, it can often indicate discomfort and so possible illness.
Fitbark helps you out by giving you overall ‘Health index’ and ‘Sleep score’ figures to make it easy to keep tabs on this.
The customer support from Fitbark is also outstanding, with online or in app chat with real people that makes getting to the bottom of any issue very quick and easy.
I only had a couple of small issues during my time with the Fitbark, which mostly related to letting it run completely out of battery, but these were swiftly resolved by helpful and friendly people online.
Even better, the lack of any subscription fee means that although you might feel the initial cost is high, once you’ve paid that’s it.
All in all, I’ve found it to be fantastic and it’s made ensuring the right balance of play, rest and food much easier than simply having to guess.