MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Wearable tech has become big business. Fitbit and Jawbone are just two of the products people are wearing to track their physical activity and monitor their progress.
It was only a matter of time before somebody tried to do it for pets.READ MORE: Man Hospitalized After Hit-And-Run In Brooklyn Park
In fact, at least two companies have jumped into the Pet Tech business.
But what can you find out by wiring up your dog? And is it worth the expense?
On a steamy Sunday, the Minnehaha Dog Park is full of poodles, Labradors, and shepherd mixes, and they are full of energy. But for all the running, chasing and swimming, their owners realize the dogs are much less active when they are at work.
“You know the more exercise that she has, the happier she is — the happier I am,” one pet owner said.
But for all the running, chasing and swimming, these owners realize their dogs are much less active when they are at work. At least they think so.
“Actually I do wonder that,” said dog owner Perssis Meshkat of Minneapolis. “Sometimes I wish I could text him.”
Which is basically what Chad Johnson does. He’s been using a device called Whistle for about 5 months.
This new breed of pet technology attaches to his dogs’ collars at home and lets him check their activity from the office.
“It was really surprising to see how little activity they were getting at that point,” Johnson said.
The whole family is connected to their dogs’ fitness numbers.
“We have to get 30 minutes every day and when you see they’re at 27 or 28, you’re like, ‘oh man, we need to get to 30 today.’ I think we’re becoming more and more data driven.” Chad Johnson said.
Jake, their boxer, should get 30 minutes of activity each day. Jasper, their schnauzer, needs 20. And if the numbers are too low, everybody knows what to do.READ MORE: Aromatherapy Spray Linked To Deadly Tropical Disease; 1 Minnesotan Among Those Sickened In U.S.
“When we work all day and they’re kenneled all day, we need to be mindful about that,” said Chad’s wife, Rhonda.
The technology is almost identical to the FitBits and other activity monitors that joggers and walkers have worn for years.
In fact, Dr. David Lee has been known to put his own FitBit on his pet pug.
“For those people who ignore their dog staring at the leash or sitting at the door, it’s just one more reminder to get out there,” Lee said.
Lee is the Director of the University of Minnesota’s Veterinary Medical Center and a big advocate of exercising with pets.
“In many ways, your dog’s probably your best personal trainer,” Lee said.
But he worries about some owners overdoing it, because dogs don’t self-limit their exercise the way people do.
“It’s important that you talk to your veterinarian about what is the right exercise protocol for your dog,” Lee said.
So, what’s the price of this info?
“I think it would be interesting to see if I’m doing the right thing for her, and if she’s getting enough exercise,” said dog owner Elle Gassner.
Chad works at a tech company that works with Whistle, so he got his for free. But the retail price is $129 — online or at PetSmart.
“Wow, that’s pretty high,” said Gassner.
“That would be too much for me to want to buy it,” said Meshkat. So for now, she’ll stick with a little game of fetch, and monitoring her dog the old-fashioned way.MORE NEWS: Child Hurt In St. Paul Shooting; Investigation Underway
The competing pet monitor is also getting a lot of attention. It’s called FitBark and you can pre-order it online, but they’re still tweaking a few things before releasing it to the public.