Exercise is important for pets, but it’s not always at the top of the to-do list for busy pet parents. Since having a (human) baby last summer, I haven’t been able to bring my Vizsla, Finley, for runs or to the dog park nearly as often. In place of all that activity, I send her on doggy play dates three times a week, take her on long walks the other two days, and to the park and for some jogging on weekends. Still, I never feel like it’s quite enough for my working dog.
Finley is always ready to burn off excess energy. Even after coming home from a three- or four-hour play date, she can be restless. I recently caught her manically digging holes in the backyard. What’s more, my active and anxious Finley escaped from the house once, and it was an experience I don’t care to relive. So when I heard about the new Whistle GPS activity tracker, I knew I had to take it for a spin.
The idea behind Whistle is similar to most other wearable activity trackers for pets or humans: proactive and preventative health monitoring. Keeping tabs on your pup’s habits helps you figure out if or when you need to visit the vet. The Whistle app will also track any meds your pet is taking, and it provides a community board for folks to share their experience and advice.
But one of the biggest advantages of Whistle is the GPS element. According to the company, a whopping one-third of all pets will stray from home at some point in their life. And by allowing pet parents to create a designated Whistle Zone around their house, the device sends alerts if your dog is somewhere she shouldn’t be. This kind of location reassurance was just what I was looking for, aside from the obvious benefits of knowing how much exercise my pup was getting.
When I first set up Finley’s profile, Whistle made a suggested activity level based upon her age (three years), weight (45 pounds), breed (Vizsla), and location (New York), and the range was 50 to 90 minutes per day. So I set a modest goal of 50 minutes through the app, thinking that Finley really wasn’t getting all that much activity. She wore the cracker-sized device on her collar for two weeks and averaged 139 minutes per day. She was basically doing double what she needed to maintain good health. This knowledge alone immediately put me at ease. I could stop worrying that Finley was being relatively neglected in the physical sense; before, I used to work her like a marine.
Aside from the satisfaction of having a very clear, numerical, and graph-based concept of Finley’s daily activity levels, the collar attachment was great for letting me know when she had returned from a doggy play date and reentered her Whistle Zone. Given my dog’s severe separation anxiety, this feature was practically priceless. If I wasn’t home already, I could schedule the rest of my afternoon accordingly. And it also helped me discover that Finley was relatively fine when the dog walker dropped her at home and I wasn’t already there. (She doesn’t do well if I’m the person leaving her behind at the house.)
By the end of the 14 days, I didn’t want to take the Whistle off her collar. Mostly because I loved seeing how much activity my dog was getting via a user-friendly report in real time, but also because the thing was so securely attached to Finley’s collar that it was tough to pry off for recharging!
Dogster scorecard for Whistle GPS Pet Tracker:
- Quality: A. The device worked as promised and stood up to Finley’s wear and tear. We had no issues with functionality whatsoever. And the battery life is solid – it lasted the full two weeks.
- Style: The Whistle is sleek, gray, and on the smaller side, so wearing it didn’t bother Finley at all. But people on the street still thought it was a shock collar, which bothered me.
- Function: The app accurately captured all of my pup’s activity and generated easy-to-read bar graphs of hourly activity with relative intensity. I also received text notifications whenever Finley left our property and when she returned. I never needed to call, but Whistle offers phone support throughout the week, which is great for people who have urgent questions that need answering.
- Creativity: The activity monitor and GPS are a brilliant combination because active pups are probably more likely to go missing.
- Value: The device costs $79.99, plus monthly service starting at $6.95. This is about what other activity monitors cost, and it’s not wildly outside of range for the average doting pet-parent, although it is a substantial investment.
Whistle GPS offers great peace of mind for anyone with an active dog and a keen interest in the pooch’s daily exercise and whereabouts.