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How to choose the right dog whistle for you

We at are firm advocates of dog whistles and are going to show you why on this page. We will explain how dog whistles work, how you can use them with your furry-friend and what types of whistles you can find online.

Dog training

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of whistle training, let’s start at the beginning and take a look as to why dog whistles have become such a popular dog owner’s accessory.

How do dog whistles work?

In times gone by man would whistle his dog without the aid of a whistle. Take, for an example, a farmer rounding up his sheep with the help of a sheepdog. An innately intelligent dog, a sheepdog would follow the oral commands and directions of his master and cross the field to round up the herd of sheep. 

Over time manufacturers have created a whistle to aid and speed up this process. The whistle is simply placed inside the handler’s mouth, to replace and/or reinforce verbal commands. These whistles have developed over time and have been used to help train working dogs, who need to be able to follow commands from close up and a distance. 

There are a great variety of whistles in today’s market and modern day whistles are becoming a firm favourite and top training tool with household pets too!

But why would my dog, who is a family pet need a whistle?  

We are going to outline some of the favourable uses of a dog whistle:

  • Unlike you, whistles have no feelings. They sound the same to your dog, no matter how you are feeling.
  • Training a dog requires repetitive actions and whistle commands are easy for a dog to learn and recognise, as you can make a consistent tone on a whistle.
  • Whistles help to ensure your dog’s safety off the lead, whilst allowing them to let off some steam and explore.
  • It’s a simple tool that you can use time and time again with multiple dogs and future dogs.
  • Whistles can transmit sounds much further than we can shout and so there are no croaky throats from using a whistle too much.
  • On a more fun note, you can show off to your walking companions that your dog comes back each and every time!

On the other hand:

  • It is recommended to have a whistle on a key ring or lanyard or to keep it near your walking gear, as it is an easy accessory to loose or forget to take along.
  • Not every dog-owner is suited to a whistle. Your dog might take a while to get the hang of the whistle command and so patience is essential.

What if it is too late to start whistle training?

It is never too late to train your dog to a whistle, even dogs who only want to come back when they are ready and not when you command. This is often the case when another dog has caught your dog’s attention and he is not quite ready to return to you. Your dog knows that you are likely to be frustrated but all will soon be forgotten about. However, by introducing a whistle there is something new for your dog to discover and an opportunity to work on the ‘come-back’ command. 

How to use the dog whistle

The dog whistle is a versatile artifact and not only for ‘come-back’.

Whistles can tell your dog when to retrieve, for example, a ball.

They can be used to get your dog to pause and get them to look to your for their next command or where to go next.

And of course whistles can get your dog to return from a great distance and to discourage them from disappearing out of sight.

When using whistles, repetition is key. Although you can teach your dog any sound pattern, it is important to use the same pattern each time.

We will show you here the simplest ‘come-back’ and ‘stop’ patterns:

  • 8 short blows for COME-BACK
  • 1 single long blow for STOP

These patterns are known as ‘recall’ and you will be able to find dog whistle recall videos on YouTube for further clarification. It also may be useful to join a local training class to get further help.

Obviously if you are only interested in the ‘come-back’ command, choose a sound pattern that suits you and use it repeatedly throughout your adventures with your pal.

Top training tips:

You must be willing to persevere and to keep repeating your actions. The more you do this, the easier your dog will learn your intentions.

If your dog already obeys your voice you can start using a whistle command and a verbal command. You should give the whistle command first (e.g. 8 short blows) and then the verbal command ‘here boy’ (or name of the dog).

After doing this, start to lengthen the time between the whistle command and verbal command. In time your dog should respond before you have to say ‘here boy’.

Once you have achieved this you can make the pause larger and then stop saying ‘here boy’ altogether.

One way to train your dog to the whistle, would be getting your dog to follow after you in a fun game of ‘tig’. You can give positive encouragements so he knows to come to you. Once your dog likes to run towards you, you could blow the whistle when he is coming in your direction. This is on the way to becoming a command – your dog is beginning to associate the whistle with coming towards you.

You could praise your pet with a treat but this should not be too heavily relied on…besides, reward and praise would be another article topic altogether!

PLEASE NOTE: You should never blow the whistle directly in the dog’s ear as this could be very harmful.

Will whistle training work?

If you really work at whistle training and get your dog to follow the whistle – just like you get your dog to follow your verbal commands, your dog should start responding to coming back. At whistles are rarely returned stating that they do not do their job!

Choosing the correct whistle for your dog

We have a great selection of whistles at because each owner has a different preference. Here are some useful thoughts to consider if you decide to buy a whistle:

  • A strong, solid build – whistles get dropped!
  • A sound, which is consistent and doesn’t alter pitch greatly.
  • A sound which can travel significant distances
  • An easy to hear sound. We prefer to hear what we are using but some customers do prefer ‘silent’ whistles.
  • Whistles should be replaceable – if you misplace them, it would be a pain for your dog to have to learn a new sound. You could, perhaps, even consider buying two in one go...?
  • A vibrant coloured whistle to make them easy to pick out if you are in a hurry.
  • A lanyard is great to accompany your whistle for easy access and storage.
  • For obvious reasons whistles need to be washable!

So which type of whistle is best?

Again preference is key here. It really depends on what you want to use the whistle for. You can find whistles that enable you to double the distance between you and your dog due to a very loud sound. There are whistles with adjustable frequency to suit your dog’s hearing.Another whistle exists by where changing your blow strength affects the frequency. This type can be used with highly trained dogs or during competitions. Popular whistles are the Acme Sonec 210.5 and 211.5. These have different tones, the first being suited for close work and the latter for longer distance training.

Have you used a whistle to train your dog? Why not share you tips below?


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