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Whistle: Activity trackers go to the dogs

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal | Jan. 24, 2014
Just what does your dog do all day? Sleep for eight hours straight? Run around your living room in circles? Go on lengthy walks with your dog walker? Whistle, an activity tracker for dogs--yes, you read that correctly--can help you find out.

Just what does your dog do all day? Sleep for eight hours straight? Run around your living room in circles? Go on lengthy walks with your dog walker? Whistle, an activity tracker for dogs — yes, you read that correctly — can help you find out.

The hardware
The Whistle device is a round gadget that measures about 1.5 inches in diameter and 0.25 inch thick. The front of the gadget is made of attractive brushed aluminum with a whistle icon stamped into it, while the sides and back are plastic. Although the brushed aluminum looks great, don't expect it to last — especially if your dog enjoys dramatically scraping up against walls (mine does) or playing collar-tug with pit bulls (mine does). One small button sits on the side, and a slim ring of light, which indicates battery status, appears just under the front plate.

The Whistle gadget attaches to your dog's collar with a rubbery strap. The device snaps into a plastic plate on the strap, which has quick-release levers that let you take the device off your dog without removing the entire rubber-strap contraption from the collar. Although the strap is adjustable, the Whistle device is rather big for small dogs — it fit nicely around my French bulldog's 1-inch-thick leather collar, for instance, but it looked ridiculous (and a bit uncomfortable) around my Pomeranian's slim quarter-inch collar. It doesn't come in different sizes, so owners of small dogs may want to skip this gadget.

Once attached to your dog's collar, the Whistle device simply sits there and passively records activity. It doesn't record every single tiny movement your dog makes — it waits until your pup has been running around for a few minutes before it starts calling the activity a play session.

The software
To see your dog's activity charts, you have to log in to the Whistle iOS app, which is available for devices running iOS 6.1 and later. The app allows you to add your dog's profile (including name, age, weight, gender, breed, city, and activity goal) and to track your pet's activity throughout the day. You can add up to six people for each dog, which is perfect if you have a dog walker or a spouse who also wants to track your pup's activity. When your dog is active with those people, Whistle will pick up on their nearby iOS device and inform you as to who your pup is being active with.

The Whistle app has a nice, clean interface that lets you review your dog's daily activity level at a glance. Each day features a line chart that shows how your dog's activity level changes throughout the day (it's labeled morning, daytime, and night). Below the chart, you see a list of your dog's individual activity sessions, which are usually labeled Active with you' (or with another owner) or Walk'. Whistle can tell when your dog is walking versus playing, which is a nice feature if you hire a dog walker to wall — not just play with — your dog.

 

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