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Whistle Go Discover | Is a GPS Health Tracker for Your Canine Price It?


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There’s no going back now: health and fitness trackers for dogs have arrived, and products like the Whistle Go Explore are leading the charge. But is the wealth of information they offer worth the price tag? With the help of Rover test pup Sabine, we get some surprisingly definitive answers.

Why a GPS Fitness Tracker for a Dog?

The Whistle Go Explore is an especially popular entry in a growing field of hybrid dog tech: dog GPS devices that double as health and fitness trackers for your pup.

The GPS component is practical: it uses cell towers in your area to track your dog, sending you a notification on your phone when the device has left a designated safe area, then following it with regular location updates so you can head right to your missing escape artist.

But for many pet parents, the utility of fitness tracking is a lot less obvious—and I was among the skeptics. I was admittedly very curious about how my pups spent their days when I was gone, but I had trouble justifying a $100+ investment to find out. Was there really any utility to knowing, I wondered, or would it just be one more thing to keep track of—and feel guilty about if my dogs weren’t getting enough exercise?

My Bernedoodle Sabine and I decided to take the plunge. We put the Whistle Go Explore to the test for six weeks, and it was a wilder journey than either of us expected.

Whistle Go Explore Dog Health and Fitness Tracker

The dog health and fitness tracker arrived in a great little package, complete with quick start-up instructions that were easy to understand and got us up and running in no time. The Whistle Go Explore comes in three colors, so you can outfit your dog with a color that brings out her shine. (We went for pink, because Sabine always comes back from the groomer looking like a curmudgeonly old man, and pink is obviously the appropriate choice for curmudgeons.)

The device itself is small and lightweight, and it fits right on your dog’s collar. It’s tiny enough that it shouldn’t be burdensome even to a small dog.

Dog sits in front of fireplace, wearing pink Whistle Go Explore tracker

Sabine and her pink Whistle Go Explore

Battery Life

The Whistle Go Explore charges quickly, and the battery life is incredible. Six weeks in, we still have 30% of the initial charge. That’s pretty amazing for a pet GPS tracker. (Note: The manufacturer recommends charging it twice per week for optimal long-term battery life. Since we were testing the product, we wanted to see how long it could last on a single charge!)

The Whistle Go Explore has built-in options to conserve battery by turning off tracking if your dog is within your WiFi range. We chose this option and found it helped preserve battery life but didn’t limit functionality: if Sabine ever leaves WiFi range, the Whistle Go Explore automatically switches modes to keep track of her location.

Health Indicators

In addition to general activity, the Whistle tracks several health indicators, including licking, scratching, eating, and drinking. During the first week of usage, it will determine your pet’s normal patterns—like a warm-up period to get to know your dog.

Once a baseline is established, you can get a good idea if your pet has elevated scratching or licking (indicating a potential allergy, irritation, infection, or injury) or if their eating and drinking habits have significantly changed. I typically checked it every couple of days.

Health Insights from Whistle Go Explore

Sabine’s Health Tracker

Subscription

The Whistle Go Explore has a monthly subscription fee. This subscription covers everything that you’ll need for your device’s functionality, including network, data, GPS, and even some tele-vet services. The plans range from $7.99 to $12.99 per month, depending on the payment plan that you select.

Setting up the Whistle is surprisingly easy. Its app lets you choose between a variety of privacy settings for your comfort. You can have the app recognize if your phone is co-located with the device, and this allows the device to understand if your pet is with you. You also have the option to fill out your profile to add all your pet’s humans: the people who will have the app and connect to your Whistle.

Next, you can enter your dog’s information: breed, size, age, and diet (the type and brand of food you feed). This information, when compared to your dog’s activity, helps the app provide food quantity and health recommendations. You can also add information about your pet’s schedule if you like, such as vet and grooming appointments. The app will post reminders to make sure you remember—pretty cool, we say.

Finally, the app gives you the option to create a safe perimeter for your dog. We chose to create a box around our property and to receive alerts when Sabine was no longer in this zone. As advertised, the app let us know when Sabine had left the area: sometimes by car (on her way to the groomer), sometimes on a trip to the sledding hill, and once on an unauthorized adventure (more on that below).

It’s important to note that the Whistle Go Explore has the best functionality with good WiFi and cell service. A weak WiFi signal will decrease the device’s utility in the vicinity of your home, and bad cell service will limit the device’s ability to locate your pet if she gets lost.

I had a few goals when testing the functionality of this dog health and fitness tracker. First, I was curious if I would learn anything about Sabine’s activity. How exactly did she spend her time each day?

Second, I wanted to know if I could use the device as a training aid. We have a large fenced-in yard, but Sabine employs her intellect well when she needs to and has found escape routes. I wanted to know if I could use this device in conjunction with a “beep” collar (sends the dog an audible beep when she needs correction) to encourage her to stay in the fence, even if the neighbor’s cat teased her.

Finally, I was interested in the health aspect of the app to see if I could learn about her general well-being and make any adjustments to help her live her best life.

I have to admit it: my expectations were low. My main concern was that it would be just one more thing to track, and one more data point to remind me that we aren’t perfect. (Sabine probably could use more exercise, and I’m always aware that we can do better.) My second concern was the cost. Would the benefits really justify not just the initial price tag but also a monthly subscription?

Result #1: Unexpected Joy

I have not laughed this hard in months. The Whistle was just incredibly fun—a result I wasn’t expecting from a dog health and fitness tracker.

First of all, you’ll need to know that Sabine is an incredibly goofy dog. And while I’ve always known she’s on the lazy side, I had no idea just how lazy she is. I had so much fun sharing screenshots of Sabine’s daily napping with my friends. It had us in hysterics for the entire six weeks. We learned that Sabine is an expert napper with a personal record of 18.8 hours in one day. Absolutely amazing, and something I aspire to.

The good news is, according to this fitness tracker for dogs, she is also quite healthy. Her exercise needs are not as intense as I thought they would be, and she self-exercises very well when she explores the fence line or follows our free-range chickens on their daily commute across the yard. The app confirmed that she is getting the exercise she needs (especially on days when it snows: Bernedoodles are natural frolickers) and is generally on track with her health needs. Win!

Nap Insights from Whistle Go Explore

Sabine’s expert-level napping

Result #2: Useful Activity Data

The app provides useful statistics each week about your dog, including their average activity levels, “best day,” and total miles and calories burned. We learned this data is most useful when viewed as weekly averages, not daily averages, since weather plays a huge role in Sabine’s activity levels and what she’s interested in doing.

Health and Fitness Tracker for Dogs Display

Sabine’s average activity

Result #3: Helpful Dietary Recommendations

When you set up the Whistle Go Explore app, you have the option to report the brand of food you feed your dog. After the app calculates your dog’s baseline activity (with reference to age and weight), it will give you feeding recommendations. The app recommended that we increase the amount of food we feed Sabine to meet her caloric needs. We made this adjustment and will monitor to make sure it keeps her at a healthy weight.

Result #4: Useful Health Alerts

Bernedoodles are prone to ear infections, and Sabine is no exception. Her humans are conditioned to look for the signs. But we found that the app noticed her latest ear infection before we did—it reported a noticeable uptick in scratching. I now closely monitor this data point to make sure we catch any ear infections early.

Result #5: Safety

The Whistle Go Explore is worth its weight in gold if your dog gets lost. One day, Sabine decided she was going to “go explore” and didn’t come in when I called. I grabbed my phone and saw that I had an alert from the app: Sabine was no longer in her designated safe area!

The app showed me her exact location and the route she had taken to get there. I was able to go directly to her and bring her back home. If we hadn’t had this fitness tracker for dogs, I wouldn’t have known where she was. It was a huge relief to have that information at my fingertips.

Sabine Resting at Home with Whistle Go Explore

Sabine, happily repatriated to the yard

Result #6: Training

As far as training goes, the device isn’t quite sensitive enough to know the precise moment when the dog leaves her safe zone, as it updates on a regular basis—but not in real time. For this reason, it probably isn’t suitable as a training aid. However, the GPS location is accurate and timely enough to help you track down a dog who has gone on an unauthorized adventure.

The Verdict: Four Paws Up for this Dog Health and Fitness Tracker!

People buy dog health and fitness trackers for many reasons, but my experience with the Whistle Go Explore was that it was well worth the investment for all the reasons above. I would absolutely recommend this device for helpful information about your dog’s activity and health—and for the peace of mind of knowing that you’ll be able to quickly locate your dog if she gets lost.

Sabine and I both give this dog health and fitness tracker all four paws up!

Sabine Resting with Dog Health and Fitness Tracker

Sabine, excelling at her nap

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