Heyrex Activity Monitor

Do you ever wonder what your dog gets up to while you are out of the house? There is one part of every day I don’t look forward to at all – the moment I have to leave Kate at home by herself all day and head to work. The morning routine goes something like this: wake up, eat breakfast, get ready for work (we are early starters so out the door by 6.30am) and leave. In between breakfast and leaving, Kate takes herself off to her mat and looks morosely at me while I’m rushing around getting ready. The guilt in leaving is paramount I can assure you!

I always wondered though, what does she do when we are out? What does a day in the life of Kate look like?

For the past couple of months Kate and I have been testing out a very exciting new product called Heyrex. The Heyrex is an activity monitor that attaches to your dog’s collar and transmits the data wirelessly through a receiver, so you can log into your dog’s very own dashboard website from where ever you are and see what they are doing – in real time!

Heyrex is a New Zealand born company, who kindly sent us a monitor to try out. As someone who hates leaving their dog at home every work day, I couldn’t wait to try it out!

The Product

The Heyrex is an integrated system consisting of a monitor, receiver and website. The monitor (RRP $199.95) fits to your dog’s collar and collects information to build a behaviour profile – the longer you have it the more comprehensive and reliable data it collects. You plug the receiver into your modem, and when the monitor is in range it uploads the data to the Heyrex website. This data is then displayed in infographic style graphs and charts on your dog’s very own webpage!

Heyrex measures three different types of activity: exercise, scratching and resting and the intensity of each activity. As the device collects information over an extended period of time, it can establish a baseline of behaviours, and as a result can recognise any changes or differences to your dog’s normal behaviour and alert you to these changes as they happen.

The Test

The Heyrex arrived in the mail and that night it was out the packet and straight onto Kate’s collar.

I was pleased to find very easy to understand instructions to set up the device on Kate’s collar, and also the technical side of things, correctly connecting the receiver to the modem. To set up you are directed to the Heyrex website which not only includes written instructions but video tutorials for every step of the way.

With the Heyrex safely secured to Kate’s collar and receiver set up, I wanted to get some data recording! The leash came out and we headed off for a walk in the wetlands near our house.

Almost immediately came the first test, to see how hardwearing the Heyrex actually was. Kate off leash ran straight for her favourite place in the wetlands – the lake! In she went before I could stop her and all I could think was “I hope the monitor wasn’t exaggerating in it’s waterproof claim!” She didn’t go in for a full swim, but there was definite splash water everywhere. Kate came out, tail wagging, dripping water and I figured well we’ll just have to keep going and see the results when we get back!

A bit of a run and walk to follow and we made out way home to check out the website. For the receiver to capture the data, the monitor must pass within range of it so the receiver can capture and upload the information to the Heyrex servers. I saw this happen as when Kate comes within range it will flash a blue light, so you know the two devices have made a connection. Also confirming that yes the monitor is waterproof!

The blue light flashed and I was straight on the website to see the data! It takes a little bit of time for the results to show but this can be a matter of minutes as it was with us.

There it was! Charted in both pie and line graphs was our walk! I could see the spikes and dips in intensity levels which we could match up to when we were walking and running respectively. Incredible to see, I couldn’t wait to start building a more comprehensive behaviour profile including Kate’s sleeping patterns and scratching levels. The dashboard displays data in daily, weekly and monthly intervals so as you record more data you can look back at previous days and weeks to compare to their behaviours at present.

What I really wanted to see though was – what did Kate do when we were out?

The next day rolled around, and I was actually happy to be leaving Kate for once. I was going to get an insight into the secret dog behaviour she gets up to when we aren’t around! The morning routine followed as normal, but on arrival at work my morning consisted of constant refreshing of Kate’s Heyrex webpage to see the new data! What does she do all day when we aren’t there??

So. It turns out that the reason why my dog is so excited and active when I get home, is because she takes SIX hour naps while we are gone!

I can tell you, when you see the data sitting there on the screen of how much sleeping your dog does when you aren’t around, it is the best motivator to get them out for a walk when you get home, no matter how you might be feeling yourself. My thoughts are Kate must be so bored at home with noone to play with that she just sleeps instead. So when I get home now I make even more of an effort to play with her and take her straight out for a run, swim or bike ride.

After a while, the Heyrex had built up enough information to create a baseline behaviour model for Kate. I know this as one day an email arrived in my inbox telling me Kate had an itchy day yesterday and maybe I should check her for fleas! I thought this was a brilliant piece of communication as a result of the system working together to record, and monitor Kate’s behaviour and in this case recognising she scratched more than usual that day.
(She was actually shredding a soccer ball that night, but the behaviour did mimic scratching so I’m ok with the alert!)

In addition to itchy day notifications, I have also received restless night emails too indicating movement and broken sleep for Kate. I’m incredibly impressed with the timeliness of the emails as they always appeared early the following morning, giving the owner the information as early as possible to act on any abnormal behaviour they might be worried about.

The website includes a diary function in which you can add notes to each days activity profile, so if you look back on a particularly busy day in the future you can see your notes on what you were doing and why it was so busy.

The device rarely comes off Kate’s collar now – pretty much only for swimming and bath time! She sleeps, runs and plays with it and doesn’t even notice it’s there. We have taken Kate camping, mountain biking and flat out running with it on and the monitor has stayed securely on her collar – even covered in mud it has continued to work and record Kate’s behaviour.

I’m so impressed with the product and the whole system from the device, ease of set up, ongoing alerts and website dashboard interface. I love being able to log in from work and see in real time what Kate is up to! It is not only interesting but also gives me insights I would not be able to access normally into my dog’s behaviour, and can use these to identify any abnormal behaviours which could be early indications of health issues.

The Heyrex retails at $199.95 which is a once off purchase for the monitor, and a monthly subscription to the website to view your dog’s data starts from $9.95 both available through the Heyrex website.

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