Thursday, July 29, 2010
By Linda Cole
Whistle training is usually only done by hunters or herders to control their dog while out in the field. But using a silent whistle to give your dog commands has its advantages. I started using a silent dog whistle years ago when I learned that my Siberian Husky was an escape artist. Instead of having to walk the neighborhood yelling, I could simply blow on the whistle and she could hear it better than my voice. Training your dog to respond to a silent dog whistle is just like teaching them to come to you when you call them using a voice command. It's easy to do, as long as you are consistent, patient and have plenty of treats and praise for your dog.
A silent dog whistle makes little to no sound that humans can hear, but dogs and even cats hear it loud and clear. The only thing we hear is our breath as it goes through the whistle. You may hear a whistle depending on how you have the pitch set. But it isn't very loud to us because the sound the dog whistle emits is up in the higher range we can't pick up.
If you have an outside cat you would like to train to come to the dog whistle or would like to train your inside cat to respond when you blow the whistle, the same training techniques used for a dog would be applied. Cats don't always come when called, but they may surprise you if they think there's something in it for them, like food. A sharp blast gets their attention almost as good as a can opener, and all cats understand what that sound means.
Depending on where you buy your dog whistle, the price can be anywhere from $1.50 up to $50.00. You don't need an expensive whistle, and the ones under $10.00 are just fine. You can buy them with or without a lanyard, but I've found having a cord attached to the whistle makes it easier to find because you can hang it in a convenient spot and hang it around your neck when using it.
Training your dog to respond to a silent whistle
The first thing you need to do is decide which commands you want your dog to learn. The dog whistle works well for calling your dog if you're hiking and he's off leash, if he's a country dog that's wandered down to the back forty or if he has become lost. You can use the whistle inside the home as well and train your dog to come, sit or stay by using long and short whistles. There is no wrong way to do it. Start by getting your dog accustomed to the sound of the silent dog whistle. If your dog is out of the room when you blow it and responds to the sound, give him a treat and praise.
Once you have his attention, pick one series of whistles for the command you want him to respond to. For instance, I use two short whistles for “come.” If you want your dog to sit or stay, you will need different whistles for those basic commands. Each time your dog does what the whistle asks, give him a treat and lots of praise.
Using a silent dog whistle is just like using your voice. Be patient and only use the series of whistles meant for each command. When your dog is in the same room with you, it's best not to use the whistle and a voice command is more appropriate.
If you are blowing the dog whistle and your dog pays no attention to it, adjust the pitch on the whistle and keep testing it until you see your dog's ears move. That's an indication he does hear it. It's very important to keep the whistle tuned to that particular pitch and frequency, because just like the sound of your voice when you speak a command, your dog will learn what that sound means and respond accordingly. Like any training session, make it a game and have plenty of CANIDAE Snap-Biscuit® or Snap-Bits™ treats around to reward him.
One of the worst feelings I ever had was the first time my Husky pulled out of her collar and took off. That was when I began checking into silent dog whistles and started using it around the dogs to get them use to the sound. The only command I've taught the dogs is to come when I blow the dog whistle. Hopefully, if one decides to roam, the silent dog whistle can help them find their way home without me yelling and disturbing the neighbors.
Read more articles by Linda Cole