on 2015-10-15 FitBark Vs Whistle with September 2016 UPDATE!
FitBark Vs Whistle
If you're looking at these activity trackers for your dog it really comes down to the Whistle or the FitBark. I haven't seen any reviews that offer any helpful comparisons so that's what I'm going to do here. For the record we have been using our Whistle on our dog for the past year so we have a pretty good idea the pros and cos of both platforms.
Form Factor. The Whistle weighs twice as much at 16 grams. That's probably not a big deal if you have a larger dog but we are using ours on our Chihuahua and the smaller FitBark is much, much better in that regard. But it's not just the lighter weight. It's also the shape of the FitBark that makes it so much better in my opinion. With the Whistle you have a rather larger, bulbous round object that flops around a lot when the dogs run. The FitBark, on the other hand, is much smaller and flatter and sits very stably on the dogs collar. Whereas the Whistle seemed to standout the FitBark is a much more subtle device that most people probably won't even notice.
Charging. The Whistle requires a rather dexterous move to remove it from the dogs collar each time it needs to be charged and then placed in their proprietary charging cradle. The FitBark doesn't need to be removed from the collar at all. You simply take the dogs collar off and plug it into a standard USB mini cord that most of us already have. I love this because I don't have to worry about what's going to happen when the one of a kind Whistle charger takes a crap on me (which it apparently just did). Most of us have USB mini cords for our smart phones and other devices so it's easy.
Set-up. The set-up for the two devices is similar with the big difference being that the FitBark doesn't access your home wifi network so it's just a bluetooth connection. But with no buttons to press on the FitBark, the overall process was faster and more intuitive with the FitBark. I simply plugged it into a USB port and three seconds later it was connected to my smart phone. Easy. The Whistle, on the other hand, requires multiple steps. You hold the button down until the green light flashes; you go into your phones bluetooth settings and connect it; you enter passwords. It's much more tedious and onerous on the Whistle. I really liked how easy the FitBark was to set up.
Hardware. From what I can tell the two devices share very similar hardware configurations that essentially measure the same stuff.
Software. You interact with both devices through their smartphone apps and here is where I'll give the edge to Whistle. They are both well designed and track the basics like play, active, and sleep. But Whistle seems easier to scroll back and look at your dogs history. Most importantly, Whistle actually records and displays the intensity of your dogs activity. So on a graph you can see larger and larger bars for more and more intense activity, like running vs walking etc. Both companies are also working hard to compile this data in order to provide comparative data for your particular dog's age, breed etc. It seems Whistle has a bit of a headstart here as well. But at this stage of the game I'm guessing that most of this is guess work still. But as more and more dog people use these devices this information could prove to be very useful. Overall I like the Whistle app better but they are both good apps.
Connectivity. Both devices use the low power Bluetooth 4 to connect to your smart phone. Whistle also connects to your local wifi network. FitBark a wifi base accessory that allows wifi connectivity but I don't have it so I won't comment on it here. We've had nothing but problems with connecting with our Whistle on both IOS and Android platforms. The customer support at Whistle is horrendous. So despite trying to resolve this issue for the past year with them we have gotten nowhere. As a result, instead of the advertised 14 days between charges we get around 4. This, presumably, is because the Whistle is repeatedly trying to access our phones or network. At this point my only guess is that because the Whistle attempts to connect to so many different devices it's prone to these problems. FitBark, on the other hand, only uses Bluetooth and limits actual connection to one user. The result so far has been fantastic connectivity.
Customer Service. FitBark is light years ahead of Whistle when it comes to customer service. The people at FitBark have this crazy thing they do where they actually read the email you send them and respond to it. In a year of dealing with the people at Whistle I never once felt they actually read what I wrote. It would always be a copy and paste type response. They never followed up to see if the issue had been resolved (it hadn't). In my dealings with the folks at FitBark, it's been the exact opposite. The responses are clearly well thought out and in response to what I actually wrote to them. They follow up to see if I got the information I needed. In this regard, it's not even close. The FitBark people understand customer service and do a great job at it.
The downside to this great connectivity is also its simplicity. Say someone was watching your dog for you while you were on vacation. Without buying the nearly $100 "accessory" for the FitBark it has no way to upload data and in about two weeks the memory would be full. Whistle, on the other hand, can access your home Wifi network or any wifi network you connect it to and upload data that way. Last year when we were in the Galapagos Islands it was great to get real-time reports from our Whistle to see that our pups were getting their play time.
Lastly, let me just say a few words about why I love these fitness trackers so much. I've found that it's a great tool for motivating us to get out of the house and get our dogs that added bit of exercise. It keeps us accountable, particularly through the winter when it's not necessarily as fun to go out in the cold/snow. It's also been a great device for keeping dog walkers honest. We had a well liked dog walker in our building we hired. His first walk was for an hour. Thanks to our activity tracker we knew for a fact that this guy walked the dogs for all of 5 minutes over the course of an hour. We walked out of our building and sat somewhere for about 40 minutes and then came back. So it's nice to have the peace of mind that nobody is cheating your furry friend on their much needed play time. It's also a great tool for keeping track of your dogs overall health. Tracking sleep and activity over time makes it much easier to see that your dog is sleeping more than usual, which could be a sign of illness.
In summary, the Whistle and FitBark are very similar devices that basically do the same things. But overall I prefer the streamlined and simplified FitBark to the Whistle. The Whistle app is better but that's a software issue that will no doubt get better for both companies over time. While I don't think you can go wrong with either device, if you have a smaller dog the FitBark is the better choice.
Update September 2016.
We've now had our FitBark's for nearly a year now and I've changed our rating from four stars to five. We have three dogs using these monitors and we've just been blown away by the customer support at FitBark. It's hands down the best customer support I've ever encountered. They listen to you, and they go out of their way to fix any problem. I really can't say enough good things about them. I wish every company was this responsive to its customers.
Beyond the great customer service, the FitBark app has grown by leaps and bounds in the past year and that's a big reason for the added star to my rating. The social aspect is a lot of fun and it's just gotten better and better. It's much easier now to add other dogs to your "pack" which adds a nice competitive feature to the FitBark. The biggest changes, though, are probably the addition of a health index score, a sleep score, and the ability to track distance. I'll say a little about each below.
The health index score is still pretty new and in Beta according to FitBark. Even they admit it's far from perfect at this point but the basic idea is they are working on a way to take the various metrics they get and combine them into an overall score that gives us and idea of our dogs overall health. So it takes into account not just your daily goal but how your dog is doing with exercise and sleep over time, it's age, weight and then puts that into a percentage. It should probably be taken with a grain of salt at this point, but what I love about it is that it's just another way that the folks at FitBark are constantly working to make their product better and more meaningful for pet owners.
The next is the sleep score. It's something I mentioned in my original review that still doesn't get talked a lot about. People tend to focus on the active stuff like play, but sleep is a huge indicator of how healthy our dogs are and it's also one that most of us are completely unaware of. So before you just got a number of hours that your dog slept. We still get that. But what they have done is add this sleep score that gives you an idea of how well your dog slept. I think it's basically looking at how much movement or wrestlessness your dog is displaying during sleep. Our older dog, Taco, just had a bout of bad sleep and sure enough it was an indicator that he was constipated. It's things like this that make the FitBark so great.
Lastly, we can finally track distance! Now because dogs vary so much in size and the way they walk this takes a little work but once you get it set up it's actually really great. What they ask you to do is take your dog for a mile long walk and then see how many Fitbark points it got for that mile. Pretty simple and straightforward. I have to admit I was a little skeptical that this would be accurate because dogs can generate very different points depending on whether they are running or walking. But I was wrong. Once I did it and came up with approximately 2300 points per mile for Rusty I went back and looked at a day where I knew she had ran over 30 miles. I did the math and her 86,000 barkpoints worked out perfectly for the 36 miles she ran that day! I was impressed.
I honestly love our FitBarks. The company is fantastic. The customer support is the best I've ever experienced. And the product just keeps getting better and better. In just the past year I've seen tremendous changes in the app that just makes the overall experience better and better. If you're looking for an activity monitor for your dog you really can't go wrong with a FitBark.Whistle Activity Monitor For Dogs
5 Stars By Mark D. Richardson on 2016-03-29
Total Greatness for Vizsla Owners!
My dog Murphy is a Vizsla. The word Vizsla must be Hungarian for "Limitless Energy". Murphy is a little over a year and we can never exhaust him. We have been doing all that we can to "wear him out", but felt guilty that we were not doing enough. Since Jan. 1st I started wearing a FitBit and it has made a huge difference in my training. Wanting to measure our efforts to exercise Murphy, we saw that RubyTheTrail - World Famous Instagram Vizsla, endorsed FitBark. That was all it took for me to pick one up for Muphy. It has given me such peace of mind to know that despite me and my wife working full time jobs we are actually taking care of Murphy's exercise needs. (We walk him 3.5 miles before sunrise and spend all free time playing with him when we get home). Today my trusty Fitbark app sent me a message that told me, and I quote... "At 15,916 BarkPoints per day on average, he was more active than: -96% of large sized dogs of adult age, -76% of all Vizslas, -93% of all FitBark dogs." Whew! That made my month! So, daily we track Murphy's Playtime, Active-Time, Rest Time, and FitBark converts it to points. Our daily goal for Murphy is 13,100 points. We do not go to bed until he hits that goal.
The most amazing thing about FitBark is that it requires me to help Murphy meet his goals and my FitBit totals are on the rise. It is a win - win invention. Get one for your best friend, and yourself.
You can check out Murphy on Instagram... follow "MURPH_THE_VIZSLA" ... Also follow FitBark's best spokesdog ... "RUBYTHETRAILDOG"
4 Stars By John B on 2015-05-18
Changed pippie’s life
I’ve been waiting a long time for a product like this and I have looked at and tried others but none did exactly what I wanted them to do. I have a 14 yr old jack russle with terrible problems in her back joints and arthritis and I travel a lot for work. With fitbark, I can not only keep any eye on how active she is, and if my dog walker is walking her as much as he’s supposed to be, but I can also tell if she has had her medication that day. If she hasn’t her activity levels are way down and her rest is way up. Last week I even got an alert that “Pippie is resting more than normal, is she ok?” She had already had her medication that day so, I made an appointment with our Vet and showed her the Fitbark app and Pippie’s play and rest times. First, my Vet asked where he could get one and I also showed him how I could share Pippie’s information with him to help keep an eye on her. He adjusted her medication and my girl is back up to her normal playful self. Pippie loves Fitbark, thank you!!!
5 Stars By Nellie on 2016-06-23
Definitly a need for pet.
I used FitBark for 2 weeks. Never would of believed its that great if havent tried it my self. Battery lasts a week, I charge it every Sunday. Easily pairs to both android and ios, data pushes whenever in range with bluetooth on. I can leave one of my devices at home with bluetooth on and watch live data when I'm away. FitBark is not just a gadget, it's a lifestyle. It helped us learn so much about our dog. I know when she gets up at night and how long she sleeps in after I leave to work. Definitly worth it. In fact I think its worth more than what the official price is.
5 Stars By frankbif on 2017-02-16
Great Product Now....Potential To Be Fantastic Later
This is a useful AND fun product to use. Anybody complaining about the price is nuts -- dog owners spend lots of $$$ on their pets, this is one of the more unique ways to spend money on your pet rather than getting a bill from your vet. Setup of the FitBark was easier and quicker than me setting up my FitBit. I think my puppy could have done it, if he was able to reach the keyboard. LOL
I have a Toy Goldendoodle and it's fun to see how different activities register different Barkpoints. For instance, a 15-minute walk might be 800 points over solid ground with minimal stops, but the same walk in snow where he is hopping and expending more energy is almost double the Barkpoints. 30 minutes at the Dog Park is about 3,000 points. Resting and jumping up or down to the couch and getting water might take 100 or so points in an hour. 10 minutes of fetch outside is maybe 1,000 points. Etc....etc...etc.
I can't say enough about the customer service reps at FitBark: very useful and receptive to suggestions to forward to their higher-ups. One of the shortcomings right now is that they need more hybrid dog selections on the Setup Menu/App which will customize it for all dog owners but also allow more accurate data collection, Invitations and Friends activities, etc. Even though Goldendoodles are not a rare hybrid (at least not here in the NYC area), I had to choose Miniature Poodle and Golden Retriever as my primary/secondary breed types. Better if I could have chosen Goldendoodle and better yet been able to select Toy (there are also Mini and Standard Goldendoodles). There are lots more hybrid dogs today than 20 years ago, especially among smaller dogs, so it shouldn't take much effort to Google the more popular ones and incorporate them into the drop-arrow selection. If FitBark can do this in the near future, it will improve the product greatly.
Overall, I rate this product very high on current performance, customer service, and future potential. If FitBark can streamline the dog breed selection choices and expand it further....and if they can then provide activity data (averages, means, top performers, etc.) for those particular breeds...and if they can also put people with the same breed in touch with others in their areas to maybe meet up at local dog parks using the Friends/Invite function, FitBark will not only have knocked the ball out of the park but they will have hit a Grand Slam.
5 Stars By LGB131 on 2015-06-16
It works just as it says it does, and it's super easy to use! Smaller than I expected too!
I have two things to say- first, the device and the app does everything it claims to do. I bought it to better understand my Miniature Labradoodle's activity behavior, especially at daycare when we don't know what she really does there. It was a snap to set up, and it really works. I find myself taking her for walks more just because I'm now accountable for her activity levels. The app works great, but like all apps, I'm sure it will continue to get better. It even interfaces with FitBit somehow. Second, the device is smaller and lighter than I expected, which is largely my fault because there are plenty of pictures showing it on other dogs, etc.
Bottom line- it works, it's fun, and it provides me with useful data for my dog and me. I haven't tried any of the competing products out there, but after having such a great experience with this one, why would I?
5 Stars By Adam P. on 1969-12-31
Perfect for Active Border Collie
FitBark is an awesome activity tracker that shows me just how active my border collie is. We have had this for about 9 months and it's interesting to be able to track my dogs activity level. The charging is fast and simple, the device simply attaches to your dogs collar via a rubber o-ring, and the syncing process is simple. It has held up in the winter (snow, wind, rain) so I don't think there will be any issues with its durability. Will look to see what future updates they make to the software via the app, as improvements have been apparent since I purchased this device back in March.
5 Stars By Roxie on 2016-05-02
Fun and fits little dogs too.
I bought two of these for my small dogs because one of them needs to lose weight. Originally, I was a bit disappointed when the instructions said it should be worn on the collar vs a harness, but my girls only wear a harness. After some testing, I basically get the same results on a collar or harness. I was surprised to see how lazy my dogs are!! The points seem accurate based on different lengths of walks we have done. I use the app on an iPhone 6 with no issues with Bluetooth or uploading.
I have noticed the length of your battery is dependent on how often you you upload the information throughout the day. When I first got the device, I kept uploading like every hour and it only last about 2-3 days. I download 2-3 times a day now and it lasts 7 days. My dogs have gone in the water wearing the device.
I love the weekly updates which compares your dogs to others (See Photo)
Only complaint is the emerald green does not look like the photo.
5 Stars By Madeline Taylor on 2016-06-04
Great motivator for keeping my dog active
This might be the most ridiculous thing that I own, but I love the Fitbark. I was worried that it would look too large on my dog's collar, but it looks great. It also syncs well to the iPhone app, and the information is easy to read. The reason that I got this is to help me keep my dog active. Having a point goal really helps me to do this because it's easy to see when I'm slacking in the form of a lovely chart thing. The only thing that I would change is the way the daily graph is displayed when a lot of points are earned at once. If my dog earns a lot of points in one hour (dog park), then the graph is skewed so that the rest of the daily activity is difficult to see. Annoying, but not a deal breaker.
2 Stars By MI Shopper on 2017-10-03
The concept of this is great and, when it is working, it is very cool. Unfortunately, this thing is not waterproof. My dog is a waterdog. The Fitbark is supposed to be indicated as waterproof up to 30 minutes to 1meter. My dog fetches. He is in and out of the water and doesn't submerge his Fitbark, for more than it takes him to swim to catch the ball/frisbee. So, if you have a land-dog, this thing is cool. But, if you have a water dog and want to track him - this product is not ready for that kind of dog. Product support is wonderful and very responsive.