Last Christmas, my sister gave me a Pit Pat Activity Monitor for my dog. Much like a fitness tracker for people, it tracks activity length and intensity, among other metrics.
I’ve used it more or less consistently with my dog since I received the monitor. There are things that I both like and dislike about it, and am sharing those views here.
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What Does a Dog Activity Tracker Do?
A dog activity tracker allows you to track the duration and type of activity your dog does, such as walking, running, and playing. Unless it has GPS, it does not track location, only time and type of activity.
Let’s briefly talk about activity trackers vs GPS and discuss the differences.
A dog activity tracker is very similar to an old-school pedometer (the kind you’d clip on your belt). It measures movement such as steps and jumps, but does not record location. In the case of PitPat, there is a 3-axis accelerometer that can differentiate between different types of movement too, such as walking, running, and playing.
A GPS tracker, on the other hand, uses GPS signals to track the physical location of your dog. Tracking location over time also means that a GPS tracker app can record activity levels, similar to a ‘plain’ activity tracker. PitPat also offers a GPS dog tracker (currently on waitlist as of July 2022), which I have not tried.
Why would you want an activity tracker instead of GPS? GPS is more expensive, can require subscriptions (although not in the case of the PitPat tracker), and may also prevent privacy concerns.
What does PitPat track?
As the name would suggest, it allows you to track how much activity your dog is getting, including walking, playing, and running.
Each day’s activity screen also shows the amount of rest and time spent “pottering” (now might be a good time to mention that PitPat is based out of the UK).
You can see in the screenshot above that there’s 135 minutes (just over two hours) of activity in the form of walking. There’s also much more time of “pottering” (walking around the house, using the yard, etc.). And you can see the activity throughout the day: she woke up around 9am and was active in small amounts throughout the day.
Because you’ve provided your dog’s weight in the previous step, it also shows how many calories they’ve burned with each day’s activity.
To be honest, I don’t pay a ton of attention to this part because I’m not using the app for a weight loss goal. Instead, I adjust my dog’s food needs based on other behavioral cues. Still, if your dog needs weight loss or weight gain help, this section could be very useful.
You are also able to set a daily activity goal for your dog. You can look at the “at a glance” view of previous days to see whether you hit your goal or not. You can also see how many days out of each month you’ve hit your goal.
This is my main use of the app. I have a senior dog and I’d like to maintain a baseline activity level each day. PitPat recommends that she gets 30 minutes of movement in a day, and this “at a glance” view lets me see how we’re doing.
Another view in the PitPat app shows what an average day looks like for your dog. Much like the daily view shown earlier, this will show you the average time spent walking, running, and playing over the last week, month or year. And it shows you when your dog is active throughout the day.
These are more for fun than anything else. As you use the app and log more activity, you earn badges corresponding to how far you’ve walked or run.
For example, my dog recently earned the “London to Edinburgh” badge, meaning that she’s walked the equivalent of 377.2 miles!
Why Buy an Activity Tracker For Your Dog?
Activity trackers can be useful for making sure your dog gets enough exercise, tracking caloric needs, and tracking weight. If you are in the UK, the app has more features relating to video vet services, insurance, food, and more.
What was my motivation for getting an activity tracker? In my case, I was not looking for an activity tracker, and instead received mine as a gift. Still, there are a number of reasons why having an activity tracker can be useful for dogs.
As mentioned earlier, I have a senior dog and use the app as a way of measuring how much activity she’s getting each day. While I know how much activity my dog is getting through walks, I don’t always see how much movement she has during the day around the house and backyard, so it’s nice to have a way to quantify it. PitPat suggests a daily activity level based on your dog’s age and breed.
Using the PitPat activity tracker in this way–to hit a daily minimum activity level–could also be useful for dogs recovering from injuries.
If you have a younger dog, your daily activity goal would be much higher. This might be useful for dog owners who know that their dog needs “X” number of minutes of activity a day to be
sane happy, where “X” is a big number that’s hard to track each day.
For dog owners working on weight loss or weight gain for their pets, the calorie tracking and weight tracking sections are pretty useful.
If you’re the competitive type, you can buy an add-on membership that allows you to compete with other dogs:
And finally, if you’re in the UK, you can use all the features of this app. These include add-on products, such as a food bowl that weighs the amount of dog food you’re giving your dog; dog insurance; and video vet services.
How Do You Use the PitPat Activity Tracker?
Use of the PitPat tracker is pretty simple. Attach it to your dog’s collar using a velcro band. Then download the phone app, sign up for an account, and add your dog. You’ll need to provide some information on your dog’s size, then you’re ready to start tracking!
Here are those steps in more detail:
1. Putting the PitPat Tracker On a Collar
The tracker is a small plastic button with velcro straps. You’ll likely have to take your dog’s collar off to put the tracker on.
While my dog doesn’t run through a ton of bushes or other things that could snag her collar, I have not had a single issue with the tracker falling off since I put it on my dog’s collar nearly 8 months ago.
2. Downloading the PitPat App
Once you have the tracker on your dog’s collar, you need to download the app, which is free. One of the nice things about PitPat is there is no monthly subscription for their services (as is sometimes the case with “smart” devices).
Next, sign up for an account and login.
3. How to Add a Dog to the PitPat App
Once you’re logged in, you can add a dog to your account. Do so by clicking “Menu” in the upper righthand corner:
This will open up a sidebar menu. Click “Add new dog”:
Next you will see a form to enter your dog’s information.
Fill that in, and then you’re all set! Next up is syncing the tracker with your phone app.
How to Sync Your PitPat Tracker
Once you have followed the steps earlier in this post to download the app, create an account, and add your dog’s info, you can now sync the activity tracker with your phone.
Why do you need to sync the tracker with your phone? The PitPat tracker communicates with your phone over Bluetooth. Bluetooth requires both devices to be within a short range of each other, which isn’t always true of your dog and your phone. So, data is only transferred between the two when you create a connection through the app, and then press the tracker. This also helps save battery life.
To sync the tracker with your phone:
Open the PitPat app on your phone, and click the “Menu” tab.
Then click “Fetch Data” in the sidebar menu:
Wait until the page says “searching”. If you have limited cellular or wifi signal, this page may take a little while to load.
Next, press the PitPat on your dog’s collar. Your phone might buzz when the connection is made. If you have trouble with this part, make sure your phone’s Bluetooth settings are turned on.
The app should now update to show your dog’s latest activity.
How Often to Sync Your PitPat
You should aim to sync your PitPat every two or three days.
Your dog’s activity information is logged on the physical activity tracker, and only transferred over to your phone (which has much more space to store data) when you sync it.
This means that if you don’t sync the PitPat for an extended period of time, your dog’s previous data may be overwritten by newer activity data.
The PitPat app gives you the option of setting notifications so that you are reminded to regularly sync your data.
Pros of the PitPat Activity Tracker
There are a lot of things I enjoy about the PitPat tracker and the phone app.
First off, the physical tracker itself is very low maintenance. I have had no issues with it falling off or being scratched at. If your dog has a nylon collar like mine, the velcro holds it in place on the collar itself so there’s no sliding around.
Long battery life: I have not had to charge the battery in nearly 8 months. And that’s expected… the PitPat help page says the battery only needs changing once a year.
It’s also relatively affordable. At the time of this blog post, the tracker costs $39. That’s more than a basic pedometer, but it’s also waterproof and fairly rugged. Plus, the app is free, and there’s no recurring subscription to worry about.
I like that it tracks many aspects of dog fitness, such as activity time, types, intensity (to some extent), as well as calories burned, and weight. There’s bound to be something useful for each dog, even if you don’t use all the tracking methods.
Lastly, I find the badges to be very cute.
Cons of the PitPat Activity Tracker
With that being said, there are some things I don’t like about the PitPat.
I think that several parts of the phone app are non-intuitive. For example, having to open up the sidebar menu to get to the tracker syncing page, rather than having a clearly labeled button more easily accessible.
There’s no automatic sync. This is to preserve battery life. But you should know before you buy that you have to press the “paw” button to sync the data with your phone a couple times a week.
I forget to sync the tracker with my phone, which means I lose data. The obvious answer here is just to set up notifications or make it a habit, but this doesn’t work for everyone. I’ve found that about 1.5-2 weeks is the upper limit between syncs, before I start losing data.
It doesn’t fully support multi-account use. Or, at least, I haven’t figured out how to do so. If you have a family member or friend who also wants to track your dog’s activity, they can add the app to their phone, sign up for an account, and add a dog. They will be able to sync with the tracker and their phone, but unless you’re sharing a login, you won’t see that data synced to your phone. In other words, there’s no account linking.
Not all features are available within the US.
There’s no location tracking. This is expected, as activity trackers by themselves don’t include GPS. However, some dog owners will want GPS in a device like this.
Is the PitPat app free?
The basic app, with all of the daily tracking features mentioned above, is completely free. Additionally, weight tracking, caloric intake, and the “at a glance” view showing past activity are all included in the free app.
There is the option to upgrade your membership to get video vet services, discounts on food, prizes for points earned through activity, and access to the competitive leaderboard. However, this is currently only available to those in the UK.
Are PitPats waterproof?
The PitPat website claims that it is waterproof. Specifically, it’s rated IP67, which means it can be dropped into a body of water up to 3′ deep for half an hour.
While my dog does not spend much time swimming these days, we’ve gone walking in the rain, and I’ve also washed her with her collar on and have not noticed any issues with the tracker.
Is PitPat accurate?
Initially, the PitPat tracker was not accurate for my dog. It calculates the distance based on the information you provide about your dog’s size and breed. If you find this to be inaccurate, the app allows you to further calibrate the tracking accuracy by applying a multiplier on the recorded distance.
To do so, open the app and go to the activity tab. If you are on the “at a glance” view (that shows multiple days), click on one of the days. Then scroll down to see the “tune distance estimate” button.
In the case of my dog, who takes shorter steps than the tracker expects for a dog her age (15), I have the distance multiplied by a factor of 0.5, or 50%. She’s a very shuffle-y pup.
I do not walk or run long distances with my dog, so the exact distance measured is not hugely important to me. What’s more important for me and my dog is the length of time recorded, which the app shows in a timeline view:
I hope you’ve found this review useful. If you are trying to monitor your dog’s activity, or help them lose or gain weight, you might find this tracker (or a similar tracker) useful. Know that there are some limitations for those in the US, and that you will have to manually sync the tracker each time you use it. Additionally, it won’t tell you your dog’s location–you’ll need a GPS tracker for that.