Laurie's Blogs.


Oct 2021

Activity Monitors for Dogs

Laurie Edge-Hughes, BScPT, MAnimSt, CAFCI, CCRT

Have you ever wondered how many steps your dog takes in a day, or how far he or she goes on a walk, zipping back and forth while you walk in a straight line?  Perhaps, you’ve thought about using wearable technology in a research project.  Could it be used to validate our rehab therapies even? Well, wearable technology is available for dogs, and researchers have started to look into their validity.


Let me share some of the research papers I found:


Colpoys J, DeCock D. Evaluation of the FitBark Activity Monitor for Measuring Physical Activity in Dogs. Animals (Basel). 2021 Mar 11;11(3):781. 


This paper evaluated the FitBark 2.  It’s an accelerometer specifically for use with dogs.  What the researchers found was that there was a high correlation between step count and FitBark activity during off-leash room exploring activities and with human-dog interactions.  However, there was a low correlation with step count and on-leash walks.  The last bit seems weird to me, but that’s what was reported!  




Martin KW, Olsen AM, Duncan CG, Duerr FM. The method of attachment influences accelerometer-based activity data in dogs. BMC Vet Res. 2017 Feb 10;13(1):48. 


This study used Actical accelerometers and evaluated six collar attachment methods.  Conclusions drawn from the study are 1) for research purposes it is important to specify and standardize the method of attachment and removal of the device from the collar; 2) connecting a leash to the collar to which an activity monitor is attached should be avoided; 3) lastly, data obtained when using the protective case should not be compared to data collected without the casing (and as such, the researchers do not recommend using any casing).




Griffies JD, Zutty J, Sarzen M, Soorholtz S. Wearable sensor shown to specifically quantify pruritic behaviors in dogs. BMC Vet Res. 2018 Apr 3;14(1):124. 


Here, the wearable technology device was an AX3 data logger by Axivity Ltd.  This study validates the use of this system to accurately and objectively report scratching and head shaking in dogs.  These factors make this system a very useful tool for objective assessment of pruritus in clinical and research settings.



Belda B, Enomoto M, Case BC, Lascelles BDX. Initial evaluation of PetPace activity monitor. Vet J. 2018 Jul;237:63-68. 


The objective of this study was to assess the correlation of the activity measurement from the PetPace device compared to activity output from Actigraph and the validated Actical device.  PetPace has a moderate correlation with the most validated activity monitor that has been used in veterinary medicine. Its real-time data acquisition, user friendly interface for owners and cost make this device an attractive tool for monitoring activity in dogs.


Westgarth C, Ladha C. Evaluation of an open source method for calculating physical activity in dogs from harness and collar based sensors. BMC Vet Res. 2017 Nov 7;13(1):322. 


This paper describes a validation study of n = 5 where 4 sensors were placed on each dog; 2 on a harness and 2 on a collar.  Sensors used were GT3X from Actigraph Corp and VetSens sensor.  The study demonstrated equivalency between data gathered from a sensor mounted a harness and a sensor mounted on a collar.



I think this could be a great way to validate some of our therapies – especially for chronic conditions, such as arthritis.  Couldn’t it be great for neuro cases as well?!  I love to think of the opportunities.  


I hope these studies get you thinking as well!  Nerds unite!

And have a great week ahead!


Cheers,  Laurie