Human keep-fit enthusiasts have long had any number of gadgets for measuring their exertions in the parks and pools.
Now there’s a device that lets them get the same information about their canine friends. The gadget and accompanying mobile phone app mean dog-owners can monitor how much exercise their pet is taking, even when they are far away at work or on holiday.
A small circular device, about the size of a watch face, attached to the dog’s collar gathers the data. Information from the Whistle Activity Monitor can then be downloaded on to a mobile phone or a computer to reveal whether the animal has spent the afternoon lazing in its basket or burning off energy in the garden. Exercise goals can be set each day and the dog’s performance compared with other animals of a similar age and breed.
Every action – from a stroll around the house to a high-speed chase after the neighbour’s cat – is recorded on the phone as a graph. This displays how much and how quickly the dog has moved around.
The heart of the device is a three-axis accelerometer, whose readings are translated into the graph by specially designed algorithms. It also tracks the dog’s exact location using wireless technology and comes with a USB charger for topping up the battery every five days or so.
The American manufacturers say the device gives owners a new perspective on a dog’s day-to-day behavior and allows them to track long-term health trends. Chief executive Ben Jacobs, who has been a dog-owner all his life, said it was capable of detecting veterinary problems that might otherwise be missed.
He said: ‘Dogs are very good at hiding the signs [of deteriorating health] from owners. If you can see a change in activity, it makes it possible to spot problems sooner and get them treated with less expensive and more preventative measures.’
Appropriately for the current British climate, Whistle is completely waterproofed – so the gadget won’t short out even if walkies are in the torrential rain. It is on sale online for British customers at around £80.