How to Whistle Train Your Dog
At HoundPlus we train every dog two types of recall.
1) The every day recall (usually "Come" or "Here")
2) The emergency whistle recall
What's the difference between the whistle and a verbal recall?
The difference is what we make it. The verbal recall is what we use 95% of the time. It's what we call the dog back with when there is no imminent danger.
The emergency whistle recall is reserved for situations in which we desperately need the dog back as there is some kind of threat.
In this article we're going to talk about how to train a rock-solid emergency whistle recall.
The Boring Theory:
The whistle training is extremely simple. We're going to make a very strong association between the whistle and a high value reward. We usually have a lot of success with Trixie Pate Tubes.
If you make the association the recall takes care of itself. That means we are not interested in practicing when the dog is far away or distracted. Practicing under those conditions would increase the likelihood of the dog not coming back when they're in the training which would weaken the association.
How to Make a Strong Association with the Whistle
We simply need to blow the whistle and then immediately present the high value reward. This should be done only when you're able to get the reward to the dog immediately after the whistle. It can even be practiced with the dog right in front of you.
We suggest practicing three times a day for a month. This should give you a strong association. After which you can keep the whistle on you for emergency use only. Although don't be afraid to maintain the association a few times a week in the same way we trained it.
Keeping the whistle on your keys or even on the dog's lead can be a helpful way to make sure you have it when you need it.
The Dinner-time Method:
If you have a dog that loves their food, eats it very quickly and never leaves any then you can easily get some repetitions in every day using this. Simply blow the whistle before you give them their bowl of dog food.
If your dog is at all picky or unexcited about their meal times then this method is not recommended. Simply practice by giving the dog the high value reward after the whistle as normal.
Do I Need a Special Type of Whistle?
Despite all of the marketing and fancy whistles out there in a multitude of pitches you don't need anything special. The whistle you use only has one requirement and that is that your dog is able to hear it when they're far away.
For that reason our current favourite whistle is the Acme Thunderer referees whistle. It's simply the loudest one we've found and your dog can't respond to something they can't hear.
Prefer to watch a video? Here's a video explanation: