Whistle: An activity monitor that gets the job done

With Whistle recording her every move, Sailor takes a break from a marathon game of catch.

It’s been a fun month with Whistle. I’m quite surprised at how much more I’ve learned about the product in the two weeks since my first review. Whistle makes me consciously try to reach Sailor’s activity goal each day. In a sense, it makes me focus on the amount of time she spends getting physical activity, not just how often she gets it. I’ve had 3 to 4 days in a row where I’ve reached her daily activity goal and got a high-five email from Whistle for it…which made me blow on my fingertips while wildly laughing and throwing my nose up in the air, feeling like “dog parent of the year.” I’m having my bumper sticker made this week!

It’s a great feeling to know this little big product is actually making me pay more attention to my dog when I thought that was impossible: I work from home and she goes with me everywhere. She is such a part of my life, often people ask, “Is that your dog…or a big hairy mole growing on your leg?” Yes, she truly is my shadow. She loves to ride in my truck, or any vehicle, as it may lead somewhere that has treats, balls, people, or other dogs. She even loves the vet and monsters — she’s that sweet. The only drawback to Sailor’s love for people and other dogs is I must be there with her. This all stems from the horrible abuse she suffered before I adopted her, and it would have been nice to see how much more activity Whistle picked up while she played with another dog.

Because I’m with Sailor all day, every day, and we have a routine, I’m aware how much exercise and activity she gets and needs on an ongoing basis. She’s not left with doggie day care or other people, so on one hand I feel using Whistle is not that important for a dog like her; on the other hand, I feel it does push me to make sure that on super busy days, she gets at least 30 minutes of some exercise or play activity. Some days she gets up to 45 minutes of activity, but other days maybe only 20 minutes. Her average is 30 minutes a day. At 14 years old, with sore joints and clouding eyes, when she awakens — especially in winter — I see she’s more stiff and apt to just want to lie around.

The one downside to Sailor using Whistle all day is past history: She was chained and nearly strangled before I rescued her, so she’s sensitive about wearing collars. She’ll tolerate them when we’re out of the house because she’s distracted by her excitement (and I make sure she has her proper tags) but at home, she’s clearly uncomfortable wearing a collar all day. With this issue, while I have made her tolerate wearing a collar more than normal during this review period, I wouldn’t do it long term. She’s turning 14 soon and I just want to focus on her happiness and comfort.

I wish the Whistle app was clearer about a couple things, like how to connect with other users and how it determines her activity. It would be great if we could actually choose the activity for ourselves. I run her every day — often long and hard for 20 minutes and the monitor simply reads, “played with me” as the activity. When she runs, yes, she’s fetching her ball, but we have a very large yard and especially when we go to the field, she’s running sometimes the equivalent of a city block and is exhausted when she gets back home. It’s much more than just “playing.” When playing fetch, she gets as much activity in one session as four long walks.

I did receive an email that upgrades had been made and would be implemented soon, so that’s good news, and I assume these notices will continue as is often the case with new products.

While Sailor is something of an exception, with her past traumatic issues of wearing a collar all day, dogs can really benefit from Whistle. I’ll still keep using it to keep track of Sailor’s active time outdoors, and as a kind of scrapbook. I love that it allows you to upload photos and notes with every activity report (a wonderful feature).

Thanks for a great product, Whistle.