Urban dog owners often worry about the fitness levels of their dogs. Are they getting enough exercise? Should I rush home and walk them? Did the walker give them a decent trek?
Now dog owners can purchase small fitness monitors for their pets that measure their activity levels throughout the day. One New York City-based startup, Fitbark, is about to introduce their model of the same name. Yes, as its title suggests, it’s essentially a Fitbit for dogs.
The device was first conceived a year ago by the brother-sister team of Davide and Sara Rossi, who recently moved to the United States from Italy.
“There was a time when we really wanted to make sure our dog, Freud, was receiving enough physical exercise in the care of other members of the family,” said Davide.
They’ve been working non-stop with a team that spans the globe to bring their device to market. Their target customers are urban dog owners who may not be able to spend as much time with their pooches as they might like.
“Over and over again we hear that it’s crucial for us as humans and our dogs as well to get a minimum amount of physical activity,” explained Davide Rossi, one of Fitbark’s co-founders. “We have busy lifestyles and sometimes it’s difficult to monitor and really track if that is happening or not.”
While Fitbark is still in development, I was impressed by the miniscule nature of the prototype, which resembles a doggie treat and weighs a third of an ounce. My roommate’s Yorkiepoo, Roscoe, wore it on his collar for six days without noticing that it was there.
The Fitbark team calibrated Roscoe’s Fitbark specifically for his breed and size so that Roscoe’s activity was appropriately measured. During the trial period I was able to monitor Roscoe’s daily exertion, hour-by-hour, on my smartphone. When Fitbark is fully operational it will also compile monthly and yearly activity rates -- data that could also be useful for vets.
“Dogs are really good at hiding how they really feel, especially urban dogs who live in an apartment who only have two times a day to really shine when they go out with you,” said Davide. “Just by comparing what’s happened with your dog’s baseline you’re going to get an insight into what’s happening with your dog.”
Fitbark plans to sell their dog activity monitor for $99 in the fall. They will also take pre-orders on Kickstarter, where they say they will start a campaign in the upcoming weeks.