You don't have to own a prized gun dog or be in the sheep herding business to get your dog to respond to a whistle. If you want to enjoy the luxury of owning a whistle-trained dog, all you need to do is dedicate some time in training. The effects of dog whistles on dogs are quite interesting and it's amazing watching a dog respond to one at the doggie park.
Also known as a silent whistle or Galton's whistle, a dog whistle has what it takes to prick your dog's ears and grab his attention. Invented in 1876 by Francis Galton, dog whistles are meant to cater to Scruffy's higher hearing range. Most dog whistles are within the 16,000 hertz to 22,000 hertz range, which means they can be barely detected by the human ear when above 20,000 hertz, but can be readily captured by Scruffy's sensitive ears.
Coming When Called
While Scruffy may cock his head and look your way upon hearing a whistle, not much training is really going on there. If you want to train your dog to come to you at the sound of the whistle, you need to turn it into a predictor of great things. If every time you blow the whistle, you deliver a treat, the whistle will become a conditioned reinforcer. This means your dog will learn to associate its noise with treats and you can start incorporating it in your recall training.
Responding to Commands
One of the most common uses of dog whistles entails giving long-distance commands. The whistle in this case becomes an effective substitute of your voice and your dog will respond accordingly. Depending on how you use the whistle, you can communicate different commands. For instance, one long whistle blast may signal a sit, whereas two pips accompanied by a hand signal may redirect your dog to move in another direction.
Stopping Unwanted Behavior
If your dog is barking, the sound of the whistle may initially stop him in his tracks, but the result is mostly transitory. Don't assume you can magically use a dog whistle to solve your opinionated dog's barking problem. Actually, excessive whistling may give your dog a reason to bark about something. Rather, try to figure out why your dog barks in the first place and address that issue. Also, keep in mind that a dog whistle won't likely stop dogs from fighting or deter an aggressive dog from attacking.
Adrienne Farricelli has been writing for magazines, books and online publications since 2005. She specializes in canine topics, previously working for the American Animal Hospital Association and receiving certification from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Her articles have appeared in "USA Today," "The APDT Chronicle of the Dog" and "Every Dog Magazine." She also contributed a chapter in the book " Puppy Socialization - An Insider's Guide to Dog Behavioral Fitness" by Caryl Wolff.