Smart devices are more popular then ever, offering users the opportunity to have their activity data quite literally at their fingertips. And now, there are dozens of similar products on the market for your dog, too.
Wearable technology may be the latest accessory to add to your pets’ collars, but each of these gadgets work in different ways and offer up different information.
Some monitor activity, like time spent exercising or pottering about, while others are designed to track your pup via GPS should they go missing. Most of these devices link to smartphone apps via Bluetooth, so that you can keep data records, or see where your canine companion is in real-time, dependant on the device chosen.
Phoebe and Frank have been using the PitPat activity monitors for around seven months now, and have trialled the Vodaphone Curve GPS tracker for four months, giving us an opportunity compare the two, and see what each tracker has to offer, and here’s what we found.
What’s the difference?
A PitPat is a compact activity monitoring device that gives dog owners a way to keep track of your dog’s activity level. Via their app, you can see how much running, walking and playing your dog does in a day, as well as how much ‘pottering’ and resting.
On the other hand, Curve is a GPS tracker which allows you too see where your dog is throughout the day, including real-time tracking that updates in seconds. This offers great peace of mind should your dog ever find themselves lost, missing or stolen.
Who much do they cost?
The PitPat activity monitor costs £39 for one device, or you can save £9 on your second device, paying £69 for two. Multi dog households can benefit from further discount, with three PitPats for £99. When I purchased mine, I also bagged 30% off using an online discount code, so it’s worth keeping an eye on their social media for seasonal offers.
PitPat does not require a subscription to then use the app, allowing you to track your dogs daily antics for free. However, there is the option to get more out of your PitPat by paying for a LIFE subscription, which costs £3.99 a month for one dog, or £6.99 for two. The LIFE subscription offers 24/7 access to a video vet, as well as savings on PitPat food. You can also get loss and damage protection for your device, early access for new products, and rewards when your pet hits their exercise goal.
Vodaphone’s Curve GPS tracker costs £30 up front, with a £6 a month subscription with no minimum contract, reduced to £3 for customers with a 24 month mobile contract. The upfront cost of the device was reduced by 50% throughout January, so was available to just £15, which is really affordable. The downside is that you are tied to Vodaphone with this tracker, and some people may be reluctant to switch if they’ve previously been loyal to a mobile network provider.
How do they attach?
PitPat comes with a sturdy Velcro strap which wraps around the collar and secures – it’s easy to take on and off, but secure enough that it won’t fall off an an off-leash run around.
Curve is bigger than the PitPat, and has a special pet attachment that you can buy separately for £12. The rubber ring slides over the tracker, and has a clip at the back that goes around the collar and locks shut.
Are they lightweight?
PitPat is by far the lighter of the two devices, and much more discreet too, weighing just 12g, while the round, chunkier Curve tips the scales at 30g.
Are they waterproof?
Both devices are rated IP67, which means that you do not need to take it off when your dog goes swimming or to hydrotherapy. IP67 withstands immersion in fresh water to a depth of 1 metre for up to 30 minutes, so they’re certainly waterproof enough for your dog to wear safely.
What’s on the apps?
I found both devices to be really easy to set up initially, creating pet profiles and fill in details. Curve can also be used to track various other items, like bags and keys, so be sure to click ‘pet’ when setting up the device.
On PitPat, users can input their dogs’ name, breed, birthday, gender and weight, as well as whether they’re neutered, which will then calculate your pets ideal exercise goal, which you can alter accordingly. You don’t have to do anything for PitPat to track your dogs’ activity – you can just press their device at the end of each day which will fetch their data and save it to the app. PitPat will tell you how many minutes of the day your dog has spent walking, running or pottering, earning badges as they hit milestones throughout the year.
Curve’s app also asks of your dogs’ breed, sex, age and size, but also for you to select some of your pets’ characteristics, which I thought made the experience feel really personal. You can view a map that shares your Curve’s location, and when you tap on the screen, it gives the options to share your location, get directions, or start a walk.
The start a walk feature was definitely the one we used the most frequently, hitting play whenever we stepped out of the door. When we got back home, we could click ‘stop’ and watch our walk pop up in history as a trail on a map. You can also add up to nine guests on the app, so it’s perfect for pet parents and family members to all see where the dog is at all times.
How do they work?
PitPat judges walking and running by sensing the natural gait motion of the dog, and judges the difference between walking and running by the intensity/exertion. If a dog is constantly changing from walking, to running, to stopping and changing direction this is characteristic of many dog games and the activity is interpreted as playing, which will then be displayed on the app.
Curve’s tracking technology uses a SIM card, meaning you can update your phone with location information even if the device is far away, which is another great safety feature for pets. To track location, it uses a selection of GPS, Wi-Fi, cellular and Bluetooth for a reliable connection and accurate reading.
You can choose to receive personalised alerts, save your favourite walking routes and see directions to your pet at any time of the day. You can even create zones, such as the park or your home, to be notified when your pet steps in or out of those areas.
What’s the battery like?
Curves GPS tracker has a seven day battery life if kept on the power saving mode, which updates location every two hours. In everyday mode, battery is expected to last five days, and three days on performance mode. Realtime tracking mode will decrease your battery fast, but Curve will always let you know when it needs charging, and you can check on the battery status in the app.
If your dog was to go missing, you’d certainly want full charge for the day, so I do recommend charging the battery every day, because it would be awful for your pet to go missing on day 6 of the devices battery life.
PitPat’s inbuilt button battery lasts around 12 months before it needs changing, and they can be bought on the PitPat shop for either £1.50 or £2.50 depending on the generation of your device. The website does let you know which kind of battery it requires, so you could also pick these up in your local supermarket.
Overall, the PitPat activity tracker is a discreet and lightweight device that offers a fun app where you can check your dog is getting the right amount of exercise, and is rewarded with badges for doing so. While the Curve doesn’t track activity, it does store your walks and miles if you remember to start the walk on the app before you set off – but it won’t automatically record like PitPat does. The GPS tracker offers invaluable piece of mind to know you’d be able to locate your pet if they went missing, which is something PitPat are yet to offer, with their GPS tracker said to be launching later in 2022.