Are Dog Whistles Useful in Training?

Communicating with dogs effectively is not  always that easy. Apart from obvious signs like the wagging of a tail or the excitment they show when you get home it can often be quite difficult to understand what your dog is really thinking. It's important to remember that dogs emotions and brain patterns are different to how humans understand and feel emotions.

The use of whistling or using a dog whistle has been used for hundreds if not thousands of years. In rural areas throughout Europe, North America and Australia, people still practice the use of complex ‘whistling command language’ to help their dogs herd and muster livestock.

Modern-day dog whistles have a high pitch that is fine for our dogs to hear but is often not heard by human ears. Dogs can hear sounds at much higher frequencies in comparison to human ears. The sound frequencies that the average adult human can hear is roughly between 2,000 and 23,000 Hz. Whereas, an average adult dog can hear sounds up to around 48,000 Hz.

If we study a little bit about the origin of the dog whistle, we can find that Sir Francis Galton invented the dog whistle or silent whistle or Galton's whistle in 1876. The fundamental characteristic of the whistle is that it emits sound in the ultrasonic range that can be easily detected by dogs but don't annoy humans. We got the first impression of the whistle in his book named “Inquiries into Human Faculty and its Development."

So How Effective Is A Dog Whistle For Training?

Insensitive or aversive training using dog whistles is known to be very useful, especially during obedience training. It renders a Pavlovian cue for your dog to stop doing an activity that is not asked by the trainer. It's distinct noise catches your dogs attention instantly and with correct training allows them to understand what you want done.

The whistles can be used for command training even if your dog is far away.  As your dog grows and learns different whistle commands they can be customized to create a specific language between you and your dog. Not only are your dogs ears good enough to hear the whistle, their ears are so good they can quickly learn which whistle is yours and ignore others.

Whistle training in conjunction with hand commands can be combined to create a more complex set of languages. Moderation is always helpful in the utilization of dog whistles. You have to include the right reward system for reinforcing positive training in the dogs or they will soon lost interest.

Here are some tips to train your dog with the help of the whistle:

  1.  Take your dog to a place without any disturbance or distraction. Keep some tasty calming treats with you.
  2.  Blow the whistle when the dog is not attentive to you. Blow one short blast and wait and watch till the furry fellow comes to you for investigation.
  3.  As soon as he/she comes to you and start investigating, praise and give him/ her the special treat that you have brought.
  4.  Repeat the same sequence from further distances. If your dog is not paying attention call their name shortly after the whistle so they associate their own name with the whistle.
  5. Never beg or coax your dog to come with food. The treats are a reward not a bribe.
  6. Your dog will gradually make the relationship between the whistle and the reward. You will know they have by the eager response of your dog to the whistling.
  7.  Keep practicing with the whistler over a number of sessions. Like all forms of dog training repetition is important.

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