The PitPat arrived promptly by post in a neat little package that fit nicely through the letterbox, there was no waiting around for delivery men, or worse being sent to the delivery office on a Saturday.
Thankfully the Pit Pat was well packaged, ‘dog proof’ even, as the PitPat came in a separate hard plastic casing that even a greedy cocker spaniel named Jasper couldn’t intercept and chew his way through in 30 seconds flat!
Along with the PitPat there was a PitPat Life membership card and a PitPat dog ID tag, a neat little idea that makes the PitPat feel like a present not just for the owner but dog too. Jasper definitely agreed when he wolfed down his free pack of Eukanuba growing puppy food.
Once we got into the packaging we found a clear set of instructions for installing the app that even the most technophobic could master.
The PitPat attaches with a "Parachute Grade" Velcro strap that you wrap around the dogs collar. It is so discreet and weighs only 16 grams including the strap, so much so that Jasper didn’t even notice it on his harness when we went out for a walk.
The app set up was equally straightforward and took less than 2 minutes. Apps are available in both the Apple app store and in Google Play for Android devices. After downloading the app we had to register an email, click on an email validation link, then we were taken to a page requesting details about our dog (name, breed, date of birth, sex, weight, intact/snipped).
PitPat uses this data to give suggested targets for exercise but you are also able to set your own goals if you wish.
To sync the PitPat with the app you press the button on the device once and it takes only a few seconds to transfer the data. After several days of not syncing, one press on the paw and hey presto all previous days activity were visible in the app and new badges given for extending new streaks.
Jasper was recovering from a neutering operation so we wanted to steadily increase his exercise over a ten day period. Pitpat allowed us to track the exercise, we were able to monitor daily movement so that we weren’t over-exercising him.
Jasper likes a paddle in the river so it offered the perfect opportunity to test out how water proof PitPat is.
Answer, very waterproof. The river was fairly deep and with his little legs PitPat got a covering but once we got home and pressed the paw, PitPat flashed and sync’d to the app as well as it had done at any point when dry. The manufacture advertises an impressive IP67 waterproof and dust tight rating.
The great thing about PitPat is that it allows you to track your dogs daily routine even when you’re not around. As a puppy owner this was very important to us as we’ve found that, like children, puppies can get over tired, over exercised, and overly excited.
With PitPat we could ensure that when crated, during the night and when we were out, Jasper was getting the rest he needed to recover from his operation.
The app is clear, colourful and easy to use. It is very intuitive, even the least tech savvy dog owner can work their way through it without many instructions.
I didn't test it but the app apparently also works with multiple dogs and owners so more than one owner can follow the progress of multiple dogs.
Metrics and Badges
We were able to track weight, body condition, set an ideal weight and earn badges for exercise. The dashboard has been well thought through and offers clear concise information. Each day PitPat breaks the day down into walking, running and playing categories and tells you how many minutes of each your dog has had. It can also tell you how many hours your dog has rested and pottered.
It gives you a total of how many miles your dog has covered and how many calories they have burned, great if you are trying to manage your dogs weight. Something we will need to monitor in future with a neutered dog.
We particularly liked the daily encouragement ditties ‘now that’s the way to do it!’, ‘This is TOO easy’, ‘You’re better at this than you think!’. This spurred us on and actually made checking in on the app pretty addictive!
As an avid tracker of my own steps/exercise and a keen Garmin owner I was intrigued to see how doggy tech compared. Of course it doesn’t tell you what your dog's recovery heart rate is or your VO2 max whilst doing squat thrusts but it does highlight just how much a dog needs to sleep and then the burst of energy he needs to keep himself amused and entertained when awake.
One thing to be proven is how accurate the tracking is. It is difficult to monitor individual activities as everything is displayed cumulatively in the app apart from a distance chart which has a timeline that moves as you drag your finger across the screen. For this reason identifying the start and end of activities is difficult.
We learned to use the device as a proxy to Jasper's activity not a scientific record of exactly how far he travelled. This is the same with human activity trackers although they are getting more accurate.
Questions of accuracy aside, it proved itself useful after his operation to monitor recovery and to not let him overdo it (but how do you tell an adolescent spaniel to stay calm and stop chasing his tail). It is also very insightful into a dogs life, especially with no humans around.
Would I recommend it?
This review unit was supplied to me at no cost but £39 seems a fair price. There is also a PitPat life membership subscription which includes the tracker for £4 per month with a minimum twelve month subscription. An entry level ‘human’ fitness tracker which includes more functionality would be slightly cheaper so it seems like you are paying for the added dog friendliness and waterproof rating. It is a nifty little device that does just exactly what it says effectively. It monitors the daily activity of your dog.
I was a bit apprehensive when putting the device on my dog’s collar because I know how he likes to play rough and tumble. To be perfectly honest I was sceptical at how long this would last without my dog losing it in the thicket or breaking it completely. To my surprise it’s very robust! With a one year battery life you won't be charging or replacing batteries all the time and the IP67 water rating means it's built to last. My accident putting it through the washing machine is testament to this!
Jasper and I recommend it.