You may have noticed in the past few week's worth of pictures that Koira has a weird black box attached to her collar. At first, I had it on her actual collar, and had her wear her collar all the time. Now, I have switched it over to her tag-keeper collar along with her antler name tag.
That weird black box is a FitBit. Specifically, it is the FitBit Zip, the cheapest of the FitBit product line. Back in November, I purchased a FitBit Flex for myself. It is basically a pedometer that you wear as a bracelet (meaning you don't forget to put it on in the morning, which has always been my problem with pedometers). Automatic syncing with my computer lets me keep track of my movement throughout the day using the Flex, and the Flex also tracks my sleep at night- how long it takes me to fall asleep, how many times I wake up in the night, and how much total sleep I got compared to total time spent in bed. Basically, a cool little gadget.
In a drugged state after dental surgery (which involved semi-sedation due to dental anxiety issues), I decided it would be a great idea to purchase FitBits for my dogs as well. I ended up getting two FitBit Zips on Ebay for a decent price, and once I had them, I figured I should use them. Unfortunately, I only got one clip to hold the device, so I have only been able to use one so far. I am still figuring out how to attach the other FitBit to Pallo- possibly inside of a collar made of tubular webbing? In any case, ever since then, Koira has been wearing a FitBit on her collar 24/7. The battery only needs to be replaced every 3-4 months, so I can pretty much just put it on her and forget about it. But the device still automatically syncs with the computer and I can easily track how much activity Koira is doing each day.
Now, obviously the FitBit isn't meant for dogs. The algorithms that determine how far you walk based on the number of steps you take, which is based on an accelerator in the device, are all way off for dogs. I fixed it a bit by inputting Koira's custom stride lengths for a trot (put in as walking stride length) and for the run. I also put in her shoulder height and her weight, but I am unsure how accurate the calorie counter is for her.
Of course, there is no real purpose to having these devices, for myself or for my dogs. They are not magical things that make you be in shape just by owning them-nothing will do that. But, they are a fun way to track your (or your dog's) activity throughout the day, week, month, and year. It really lets reality set in when you have been skipping one too many walk, or cutting it short. And there is something extremely satisfying about seeing the little dots light up or the little widget on the FitBit dashboard turn green and smiley face when you hit goal (10,000 steps/5 miles per day). It doesn't work on its own. But if you let those little things motivate you to walk another block further or go take an extra walk before bed, it can make a big difference in your life.
*Disclaimer: I purchased my FitBit Flex new on Amazon, and two FitBit Zips used on Ebay. I was not asked to post a review or provided with any compensation or free products for doing so. FitBit has never heard of me. I just enjoy this product as a helpful tool for getting in shape and staying fit, and wanted to share in case others of you out there are similarly motivated by the little things in life.