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Technology for Dogs?

Anyone else here a little skeptical about technology for dogs, like the FitBark?  When it comes to technology in general, I would consider myself an Early (to Late) Adopter on the scale Everett M. Rogers created to identify customers.  I’m usually hesitant to buy innovative technology and often wait until it’s been tested by the market.

Part of that is my frugality (thanks Mom!), refusal to do research early, and often times, a lack of interest.

So you bet I didn’t go out and buy technology that related to dogs!  I’m a millennial, true, but technology for a dog just didn’t make a ton of sense to me.  That is, until I started wearing a FitBit (late to the game of course).

I don’t need a fitness tracker, but it was giving me some really helpful information about heart rate, how lazy I’m being, and how much sleep I’m not getting.  When I realized the benefits this device had, it opened me up to learning more about FitBark for dogs.

So, after getting my first piece of technology for my dog, I have to say, I’m a fan!  Before purchasing, I doubted the usefulness of this product:

Why do I need specific details about how active my dog is?

He’s currently a healthy 4 year old dog.

Will this actually improve his life?

He seems perfectly happy at the moment.

Real Life: High Energy, Reactive Dog

When Mo was a puppy, he was this little ball of energy.  We would put him in a puppy pen when we left to keep any accidents contained and any destructive behavior to a minimum.  Except we would come home to him sitting on the couch.  That is NOT where we left him.

Like most larger dogs, the puppy energy waned around 2 years old.  Now, at four, we have traded in his constant energy for more naps and lounging, but he is still a reactive dog and he will bark, lunge, raise his hackles at anything novel, scary, or exciting.

FitBark Benefits

**Disclaimer**  I purchased the FitBark at discounted price set by the company.  The opinions about the product are all my own.

I figured the FitBark could be helpful for dogs that needed to lose weight, but could there be other applications for dogs that had behavior issues?  I can confidently say yes, as part of an overall behavior plan, the FitBark can provide valuable data, jump start motivation, create accountability, and it’s fun.  Pretty important things to have when working with a challenging pup!

Mo is wearing his FitBark on his collar. It’s light and holds a charge for such a long time!

Here’s how a FitBark can help you and your challenging dog:

When to Rest

Have you ever heard of the saying: “a tired dog is a good dog”?  Well, I’m calling bullshit on this!  If you have kids, or are a human, you’ve gotten to the point where you are exhausted and are struggling to make good choices.  Being overtired is a thing for us and for our dogs.

Yes, dogs need the appropriate amount of exercise and mental stimulation, but each dog is different and their behavior may actually deteriorate if they’ve had too much.  For example, I had a vet who suggested I run my 3 miles, 5 times a week to help his reactive behavior.  Didn’t help one bit.  I’ve also noticed that if Mo is exercised and tired for a training class, he is much more reactive.  He’s more manageable if he has a lazy day before class.

This all links to a decrease in glucose after dogs have employed a level of impulse control.  Their resources become depleted and it’s harder for them to make good decisions!

This is where the FitBark comes in to play.  FitBark displays our dogs active data in multiple ways, including a graph of their totals for each day of the week.  When I think about what I’m doing with my dogs for the day, I take into account what the last couple of days looked like.

There is data that reports dogs can use upwards of 72 hours to recover from an over threshold, stressful situation, so if we had a super active day according to the FitBark stats, I might wait a day or two before we take another hike.

Reactive dogs are more easily stressed and get to that threshold point a lot easier, so giving them time to rest and recover is so important!

Mo plopped down after a walk. A quick look at the app and we’re taking an easy day tomorrow!

How Much Activity is Happening Alone?

As a late adopter to technology, I like to keep my life as technologically simple as possible.  I may add some more dog focused technology in the future, but at the moment FitBark is fulfilling my needs, including letting me know how active my dog is when I’m not around.

Whether my dog is at daycare or home alone, I like to know how active he was.  By looking at the FitBark data I can tell if he was repositioning on the couch or barking his head off.  I can then track if his reactivity is decreasing, increasing, or remaining at status quo.  This is especially helpful if I’m trying to figure out if a training plan, medication, or change of lifestyle is helping.

This can be key for those that have dogs with separation anxiety.  You can track their movements after you leave, how long it takes for them to settle, and then compare days!

I can also use the data if he’s been at the kennel or daycare.  Was he getting enough activity?  Is he getting too much activity and going to be nuts when I pick him up?  Will he need a walk or will he need a calming chew?  This is all information that helps me manage his reactivity!

Bonding

Another cool feature is that you can link your own fitness device to the app.  This creates some healthy competition (just kidding!).  It is a great reminder that if my numbers are way higher than his, that we need to go out and play some fetch stat!

You are also working on staying healthy and fit together.  Having a companion while exercising can be motivating and fun.  Finding fun physical activities that you enjoy together can help develop and cement your bond.  Creating a strong bond between you and your challenging dog can make a world of difference when solving behavior problems.

Mo had some lazy days (so did I!)

Is Something Wrong?

Looking at the FitBark data can also give you an indication of something wrong.  Maybe there is an huge increase level in your dog, can that be explained?  It could be that you’ve committed to more walks, but if not, maybe the issue is there is something triggering your dog while you’re away from the house.  Then you can figure out how to manage that so he doesn’t spend his day barking.

What if the activity level has decreased drastically?  Maybe the weather is super hot out and everyone is melting into a puddle.  If it can’t be explained, maybe it’s time to go to the vet to see if your pup isn’t feeling well.

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FitBark Dog Activity Monitor, Green – $69.95
from: FitBark Inc.

Are They Happy?

A dog that sleeps or lounges around a lot, may not be a happy dog.  They might depressed and/or bored.  You can track how much your dog is sleeping during the day and in context with behavior, you may need to step up his activity level.

A bored dog may sleep a lot, but they might also be destructive or find other ways to entertain themselves.  Give them some constructive activities, have a short training session, play fetch for 5 minutes.

My reactive dog, Mo reacts when he goes into training class, but once he starts working, he is focused and happy.  It doesn’t have to be a lot, but find some time to engage their minds and body.  You’ll have a happier, more satisfied dog.

Logging

The FitBark provides a really convenient journal feature to record any notes for the day.  This is really helpful for us reactive dog owners and really any dog owner that’s having issues, health or behavior.

Being able to record behavior can aid in identifying triggers, patterns, and improvement.  It’s also useful information when meeting with trainers, vets, or behaviorists.  For example, we were having a lot of dog-on-dog resource guarding episodes.  We spoke to a trainer and a vet, and now have in place some management, training, and herbal medications.  I can now look back through the FitBark journal and realize, we’ve had a decrease in incidents since implementing our plan. WIN!

Convenient and easy to make notes about training, events, wins, etc. !

Worth a Try?

If you have a challenging dog, it can be tough to see the big picture and improvements., especially when you are in the trenches.  The FitBark isn’t just for dogs needing to lose some weight, it’s for your dog too.

You can check out FitBark’s products by clicking on the link!

Most Improved Dog Logo

Grab your Free Distraction Action Worksheet!

Do you struggle with a distracted pup? This worksheet that you can print and hang on your fridge will help you identify what rewards will match up with those pesky distractions!

Check your email for your free worksheet!

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