A pedometer for your pet?!… is this just a gimmick or is there a real point to it? I have to admit, when I was first approached by Sure Petcare to test the Animo I was both curious and sceptical. Having used the Animo Pet Behaviour Monitor for over a month now, I can categorically say- I love it! … and not for the reasons I thought I would.
You see in our family, the Animo pet behaviour monitor is good for monitoring the kids too… no, I haven’t attached it to their collar!
Letting another dog into our lives after our beloved friend Joshy passed away was not a decision taken lightly. The children begged and schemed.
When Alice came along and was offered to us for adoption the kids swore they’d always look after her- feed her, walk her, clean up after her.
Well, we know how that goes, fellow parents, right?
On the other hand, having a pet has lots of benefits for the kids including learning responsibility, learning about nutrition and behaviour, teaching the dog (good and bad things), being consistent… and the list goes on.
So the argument for having a dog won; and actually, to give my three credit, they are pretty good with the tasks. All three kids (aged 6, 10 and 11 years old) will pick up after her, at the same time all of them will need prompting to do the tasks, sometimes even nagging to walk her.
Thankfully, Alice is small and her exercise need not huge. If she doesn’t get enough exercise on her 3-4 outings then she gets the kids playing wrestling or fetch with her in the house. (Easy with a tiny dog like her! We have a tiny dog for our tiny home. 😀 )
Yet I wanted something where it wasn’t me being the baddie, telling the kids that a walk wasn’t long enough and so on. That’s where the Animo comes in:
An objective judge of walk quality
This pet monitor attaches to the collar of the dog, then you link it to an app on your phone and you can keep track of how active the dog has been.
The device is waterproof, so can stay on the collar all the time.
There are different sized silicon bands to attach the Animo to the different sized collars of dogs. It was quite easy to get the right fit.
On Alice, being a tiny chihuahua cross, as she is, I worried the device would be too big or heavy for her. But it’s actually fine. It does stand out on her, dominates her neckline, but both her and us got used to it quickly. It’s quite a light device, so hasn’t seemed to bother her from the moment we attached it to her collar.
Alice has had her Animo for little over 5 weeks now: the Animo learns the dog’s unique activity patterns over a 7-day period and a dog’s unique behavioural patterns over a 14-day period, before it starts reporting it back.
Now we can keep track of her (and the kids) activities.
It’s brilliant: now I’m not the one nagging the kids to walk the dog, I just sync the app and show them how much of her daily exercise she’s done and what her actual target is. They are smart kids and the visual display of activity helps them understand that a walk that felt like half an hour to them was actually just 10 minutes.
Monitoring pet behaviour with the app
We have the app installed on 2 phones (an iPhone and an Android) and sync with whichever is home first. Over the past two weeks I’ve been away a lot and the kids often arrived home first. It’s been so good being able to keep an eye on how much the dog has been walked, slept, barked, scratched and shaken when I’ve not been around.
The app, once you set it up and link to the collar monitor, set up an account online, is pretty intuitive to use. It shares data really well with the app on different devices and we’ve not had a problem with getting the activity data uploaded from the tracker attached to Alice’s collar either. The bluetooth connection it uses doesn’t affect phone battery life much.
Calories and sleep
The dog definitely gets better quality sleep than we do! She’s most of the time in the top 10%, with deep sleep. On the couple of occasions she didn’t sleep well we could link it to factors during the day- too much of the wrong food (She stole our lunch off the dining table!) and having the company of other dogs.
The Animo also gives a calorie burn estimate. Alice is fed ad lib (meaning she always has food in front of her) and is, at the moment, in no danger of being overweight. However, as she ages, I think the calorie calculation will be useful for giving her the right amount of food to avoid her becoming overweight and battling with all the issues that arise from that for dogs too.
Does my dog bark a lot?
Going away, I was concerned that Alice might be barking a lot and disturb the neighbours.
The Animo also records barking, scratching and shaking. From the activity monitor, I’ve been able to figure out that Alice only barks once a day when we are out- around noon-, which, on reflection we figured out, is when the postman comes by.
Some things seem universal in the dog world! 😀
It’s quite reassuring to know that we’re not a nuisance because of a yappy little dog.
Shaking and scratching
Interestingly, the Animo seems to record the shivering shaking of Alice rather than the shake the snow, rain and my jumper off big shakes. From the graphs it seems Alice shakes most times she isn’t tucked up with one us or hidden deep under a duvet.
As for scratching, she scratches frequently, whenever she’s awake. She has no fleas (they’d be easy to find in her very short, very sparse coat), but could be sensitive to some foods or substances around the house. She definitely hates collars, jumpers and coats. Funny, as she’s always cold otherwise.
All 3 features of barking, scratching and shaking are in beta test mode. I feel they are sort of accurate and do highlight when there is a significat change in behaviour- which we’ve seen a 2-3 times in the past weeks and all were warranted notifications from the Animo, about the spike in that particular habit of barking, scratching or shaking.
What the Animo isn’t…
The Animo hasn’t got a built-in GPS, so it isn’t a pet tracker.
Saying that, it could be an extra point of identification, besides the microchip, if your pet went missing.
The Animo doesn’t monitor the pets body temperature or when it’s eating or drinking.
Despite the fact that it looks like a collar light, the Amino has not light, except a small flashing light to indicate synchronisation and connection to the app. This save on battery power.
How the Animo could be improved
This little collar-attached device gives data when synchronised with the phone app. I really wish they had a little receiver, which hooked up to our wifi network and I could track the activity of the dog even when I’m not home to synchronise the Animo with the app.
Sure Petcare make some of the best pet doors in the world (we’ve had them and they worked very well.) I’d like to see the Animo communicate with their pet doors. (Check out their cat flaps and other doors here: Sure Petcare)
I’d love to see the device go even smaller and perhaps a little oval shaped.
It would be great if the Animo could give an alarm if the dog needs to be taken for a walk.
A couple of colour variations on this little device would be good. I’d probably choose a black one to make it a little more inconspicuous.
Overall verdict of the Animo
For us as a family, the Animo works really well. Alice gets more and better walks, the kids have a objective benchmark for their task and we, parents, have a useful tool to help the kids understand different aspects of keeping a dog.
For the price point and the valuable information it gives us, it’s great.
Long term, the Animo will help us keep Alice healthier for longer, especially the calorie calculations and registering her walks. (I base this on my background as an animal scientist.)
Click below to check out the Animo on Amazon:
So, what do you think of a pet pedometer and behaviour monitor?
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