Whistle Dogs Walk 50% More Since Stay-at-Home Orders Were Declared

April 2, 2020
Social Distancing Support

In mid-March, life drastically changed for most people in the United States as the government began to roll out official and unofficial stay-at-home orders. Most Americans had to start centering their daily activity around the home, shifting work routines, transforming school procedures, eliminating social gatherings, and, as it turns out – here is the tail-wagging upside – delighting pets to no end. 

Dogs who formerly spent their days home alone suddenly found themselves with 24-hour companionship. And if that wasn’t enough to get paws dancing, imagine their happy surprise when they discovered that all this social isolation is triggering MORE WALKS! Yes, since the staying-at-home began, pet parents have been treating their pups (and themselves) to more daily exercise, and Whistle trackers on pets across the nation logged the data to prove it. 

                                                           Walking minutes averaged daily across all Whistle trackers

What's the data?

Our partners at Pet Insight Project apply machine learning models to Whistle pet data in order to classify activity types (such as walking, running, and playing), identify trends, and gain health insights that help pet parents learn how to best protect and care for their pets. 

According to the March data (see graph above), the time Whistle dogs spent on walks increased by a whopping 50% starting mid-month, when the first stay-at-home orders were declared. 

This gives pet owners a (well-muscled) leg up on the rest of the population. With gyms closed and all sports on hiatus, there’s been an overall drop in our national physical activity. Fitbit shared data that shows Americans on average have been exercising 12% less since mid-March. In some cities, like San Francisco, Fitbit activity minutes declined up to 20% since the shelter-in-place mandate. 

                                                                                      FitBit activity data in major US cities

Dogs, meanwhile, have been showing increased activity. In the same city where Fitbit tracked a 20% weekly decrease in activity minutes, Whistle dogs, along with their pet parents, walked 10% more weekly since shelter-in-place began. 

                                                                                    Whistle walking data in major US cities

The chart below shows weekly changes in walking activity that Whistle trackers logged since the beginning of the calendar year. The top row lists each week’s end date. Up until March, Whistle recorded typical stable walking trends. The first week of March (see column 3/8) is when some people started working from home and self-quarantining. It’s also when dogs across the nation hit the jackpot – increased walking time and – maybe it goes without saying – more attention from the pet’s parent. 

Dogs are the real MVP

If there’s any silver lining to this new social-distancing reality, it’s that pets are winning. And thanks to them, we dog-loving humans are getting more exercise than the average shut-in. Our pets give us a great reason to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. (Reports in decreased pollution are another silver lining!) 

We could argue forever about who reaps more reward from these increased walks – the pets or we humans – but let’s just agree that it’s good for the whole pack. In fact, Pet Insight Project researchers have drawn clear correlations between increased activity and decreased pet obesity. We don’t think we’re going out on a limb when we assert that this is very likely true for both animals AND people. 

Throughout this global crisis, we at Whistle hope that you and your loved ones are staying safe. We will all get through this together. In the meantime, continue enjoying more dog walks – as many as you can! – and lap up all that unconditional love that our dogs return to us tenfold.