Did you know that whistles have been around as a source of calling dogs since the early 1800s? And even before that, whistling has been used by humans as an effective way of calling their dogs as they hear higher frequency pitches much better than a human voice. Having your dog effectively trained to the sound of a dog whistle is not only a huge comfort when out on walks, particularly if you have a breed of dog that loves to bound around out of sight in the bushes, but it also potentially saves any social embarrassment from you desperately running after your dog screaming it’s name. Have a watch below at what this might look like…
Whistle training has many advantages such as:
- Consistency in tone - Every time you use it the tone is the same, and the same for whoever uses it so if you or your family members all look after your dog the call is always the same
- A whistle reaches further than your voice - A dog whistle can be heard from a further distance than your voice can.
- Difference - The tone of the whistle differs hugely from that of a human voice so can easily be distinguished by your dog.
Unfortunately using a dog whistle alone doesn’t instantly produce an obedient dog on walks that comes and sits beautifully at your feet the instant it hears the noise. Using a whistle for recall has to be trained, and once trained it has to be maintained or it’s likely your dog will regress in its whistle training.
How to train recall?
You can train your dog with a whistle at any time however it is always best to start as early as possible.
Firstly…..you’ll need some treats and a dog whistle.
Take your dog into a room or an area with little distractions. Let your dog do its thing, sniffing around or whatever and then blow the whistle. When your dog comes over to check what the noise was give it a treat and some attention (treats are of course best but over time a combination of treats and praise works well after a successful recall to the whistle). Keep repeating this process in the distraction free environment for a while, your dog may not respond instantly on the first whistle but don’t start to overly plead for your dog to come to you as once you’ve done that the dog is no longer responding to the sound of the whistle. Be patient, blow the whistle once, and wait for your dog to come over.
Once you’re at the point where your dog is responding well to the whistle, start to introduce this outside where there are a few more distractions. Always have treats at this early stage as hopefully they’re more enticing than anything else your dog might spot.
This is training that your dog might get quite quickly at a young age but you must stick at it, as dogs can often regress in their training if you don’t consistently reinforce it by utilising the whistle. Make sure to regularly have treats when out on a walk and always reinforce positive behaviour and responses.
How to make your dog sit using a whistle?
Combining the recall training with a sit at your feet once your dog has returned to you is always a good idea as it just emphasises that ‘pause and restart’ feeling if your dog was getting away from you on a walk for example.
Another option is to use the whistle to have your dog sit wherever it may be, rather than come back to you. A great advantage to this is once your dog is sitting, its attention is now on you and not on whatever it was that had its attention previously. This training is a little trickier than recall as at the start it requires the command (whistle) to be given after your dog has sat down in order to have your dog associate the whistle with a sit, and in turn some positive reinforcement (treat or praise).
Firstly, with a treat have your dog sit (you can do this by holding it above your dogs head and moving the treat backwards as your dog can only look up so much and will soon sit in order to have a better view of the treat). Once your dog sits, use the command (perhaps two short blasts as opposed to one short blast for the recall) and then give your dog the treat. Over time your dog will soon associate this command with a treat, and should sit nicely and wait every time it’s heard.
Again, like all training this requires work and patience but it’s absolutely worth the effort. Most dogs spend most of their time while out on walks bounding around out of site exploring anything they can find, as a dog should do, and it provides a huge sense of comfort to know that if your dog gets a little far away or you just want them to check in for whatever a reason a short blast on the whistle will work.
Train, train, and retrain. We were guilty of not doing this with Stella. She was fantastic at recall in her adolescent years but we did not keep it up however she likes to spend her time on walks near us, or waddling behind us as we encourage her to “COME ON STELLA.”