How to train a dog with a dog whistle

Written by lisa parris
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How to train a dog with a dog whistle
(Gun Dogs Online Catalog)

Dog whistles have been around for years. They emit a sound at a frequency the human ear cannot detect but the dog's ear can. Whistles can be used for any number of commands, but they are particularly handy for communicating with dogs from a distance. Whistle training is used by those who keep hunting and herding dogs, but it is beginning to gain in popularity with a wider range of pet owners. The steps in the guide below can help you master the techniques necessary to train a dog to respond to a whistle.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Dog whistle (see Resources below)
  • Lanyard
  • Training treats--bit-sized pieces of jerky, cookies or cheese
  • Long lead or tie out

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  1. 1

    Get a whistle (see Resources below) and a lanyard. Plastic is preferable to metal for several reasons: it won't hurt as much if an overexuberant dog accidentally knocks it into your teeth, it is easier to bite down on and it won't fuse to your lips in cold weather.

  2. 2

    Test the whistle. When your dog is sleeping, give it a solid pip and see if she reacts. If there is no response, adjust the frequency until you find one she reacts to. If your whistle is not adjustable and your dog does not respond, you will have to exchange it for one that emits a different frequency.

  3. 3

    Begin training by adding the whistle to the established "Come" or "Here" command. When you call your dog, say his name, give the verbal "Come" command and then blow three short pips on the whistle. Make sure they are approximately equal in length and volume. Repeat as often as possible.

  4. 4

    Add the whistle to the "Sit" command by giving the verbal command then blowing on the whistle for one short pip. Make sure that she sits. Push the dog's hind quarters to the floor, if necessary. Repeat this procedure every time you want your dog to sit.

  5. 5

    Train the dog for whistle recall by placing him on a long lead or tie out. Call his name and say "Come" or "Here." Give the whistle three short, sharp pips and pull the lead to you. When the dog reaches you, say "Sit" and give one short pip. Make sure the dog does as he's asked. Then praise and reward your dog. After a week, take the dog off the lead and place him in an enclosed area. Gradually increase the distance and distractions between you. Remember to praise and reward good behaviour.

  6. 6

    Repeat the above steps daily. With repetition, the dog will begin to respond to the signals from the whistle without the verbal commands. You can use the whistle for any number of training behaviours, but you must make sure each command has a clear and distinct signal. Decide before you begin training what the signal ought to be, and do not change it. Consistency and repetition are critical to the dog's success.

Tips and warnings

  • Do not forget to praise and/or reward your dog every time she does what you want. Positive reinforcement goes a long way.
  • In the beginning, it will be difficult to speak with the whistle in your mouth. The techniques is similar to that of a smoker talking with a cigarette clamped between his teeth. Keep your whistle on a lanyard around your neck and you won't have to worry about dropping it while you learn to use it.
  • Keep training sessions short. 10 to 15 minutes per day, twice per day, is plenty.

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