App Review: Fido Factor

Helps you plan your dog’s day out
By Lauren Davis, June 2011, Updated February 2015

Yelp has helpfully started to include dog-friendly data in their user-generated reviews, but a quick search for “dog-friendly bar” might well turn up a bar with a friendly staff that happens to serve hot dogs. And when the reviews aren’t written by dog people, they may neglect some key information, such as whether there’s a water bowl outside and if your pup can hang out past 8 p.m.

So Fido Factor steps up to the plate, with reviews of dog-friendly destinations by real live dog owners. The app finds your location and invites you to choose one of ten categories (“Restaurants,” “Shopping,” “Pet Stores,” “Pet Services,” “Lodging”) and then lists all the relevant spots where your dog can tag along.

I can’t vouch for Fido Factor’s accuracy across the board, but I was impressed by its Berkeley, Calif., listings. Why yes, Fellini Coffee Bar does serve dog treats at its walk-up window. I’ve brought my Boxer into Half Price Books with nary a murmur from the staff. Non-service dogs can ride BART in a carrier and MUNI with a muzzle. All the information is right there on the screen. You can designate certain destinations as “favorites” if you’d like to bookmark them for later, and you can always contribute your own reviews.

Fido Factor has a few drawbacks, however. Fido Factor comes in iPhone/iPod only, so if you’re an iPad user, the display is obnoxiously small (or obnoxiously pixellated if you zoom in). The larger issue, however, is that it’s locked to your location. If you and your co-pilot are about to go on vacation, you can’t use the Fido Factor app to research spots at your destination ahead of time. Fortunately, Fido Factor does have a complementary website——where you can find dog-friendly destinations far away.


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Lauren Davis is a Berkeley-based freelance writer and editor of The Comic Book Guide to the Mission. She lives with her four-year-old Boxer, Skoda, who doesn't mind playing guinea pig as long as there are treats involved.