How to Choose and Use a Dog Whistle for Training Your Dog

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By: Lezanne Winshaw Updated: July 7, 2020

dog whistles man holding an acme dog whistleMany dog owners have awed at how shepherds can give several different signals to their well-trained shepherd dogs with a single dog whistle! No longer a tool for shepherds and hunters alone, the dog whistle is a handy tool for training any pup.

It can be a great way to make a fresh start with an older dog whose owner has developed a few bad training habits. Dog whistles are consistent, great over long distances and easy to use!


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Looking for a Dog Whistle Online? Take a Look at These!

There are many different whistles available to buy. Starting from very simple, yet effective, plastic whistles to fancy ones carved from stag horn and everything in between.

The whistle that you choose to get depends on what you will be using it for. Do you simply need a whistle to train your dog to do a great recall or do you want to compete in field trials or take your dog hunting?

Whistles with Adjustable Frequencies 

This stainless-steel dog training whistles from Crush evil and HiSung have an adjustable pitch so that you can set the whistle at a pitch that is most suitable for your dog.

This useful whistle also comes with a free lanyard so that you can keep your whistle around your neck and not worry about losing it while out and about with your pup.

A Whistle – Clicker Combo!

Blow the whistle on bad manners with this 2-in1 training tool! The Garden-One dog whistle is a whistle and clicker in one. Oh, that clicker! This is a handy whistle training gadget for obedience training of any pup, from Chihuahuas to Great Danes.

Train your dog to sit, stay or come back to you with this light-weight plastic clicker-whistle combo.

Premium Whistle with a Set Frequency

Possibly one of the most popular and most used dog whistles. The Acme Dog Whistle comes in two different frequencies, 210.5 and 211.5.

These whistles are very effective and easy to use. Resilient and long-lasting. They’re incredibly popular as far as training whistles go, and they come in many colors, so you can get one to match each outfit!

Budget Whistles

Keen to try whistle-training your doggo, but don’t want to fork out on a super special whistle just yet? The SportDOG Roy Gonia Whistle is very reasonable at under $ 5. It is easy to use and emits a lower-pitched sound that carries far.


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The History of Training Dogs with Whistle Sounds

The art of training and working with dogs using whistle sounds goes back centuries. Long before the whistles that we use today were being manufactured.

Back then, shepherds would use their powerful voices to signal to their dogs at great distances. Using different pitches and rhythms of their whistling voice, they could indicate a variety of signals to their dogs!

In more recent history, the whistle became popular among hunters. A whistle used to call a dog or indicate a stop, or a directional change is much less startling to potential prey than the sound of shouting human voices. The frequency of a whistle has the added benefit of being able to travel a greater distance than that of the human voice.

silent dog whistle with adjustable pitch

Dog Whistle Frequency: Understanding Those Incredible Doggo Ears!

A Dog’s hearing is far superior to ours. What you hear at 20 feet, your dog can hear from 80 feet away! The range of frequencies that people can hear is between 20 hertz (Hz) and 12 000 – 20 000 Hz. Dogs can hear in a frequency range of between 40 Hz and 60 000 Hz. That is twice that of people!

The sound of a dog whistle falls in the range of 16 000 and 22 000 Hz. That is out of hearing range for many people, but right in the middle of the range in which dogs hear.

For the most part, the anatomy of the middle and inner ear of humans and dogs is very similar. Where dogs get one up on us is with the outer ear. The superiority of a dog’s hearing is due to the 18 or more muscles that control the dog’s ear flap. These muscles allow the dog to finely tune the position of its ear canal. This aids in localizing the sound, hearing it more accurately and from a greater distance.

Why Different People Use Dog Whistles with Different Frequencies

Firstly, if you have a whistle with adjustable frequency, you can set the pitch to one that your dog responds to the most readily. It is believed that smaller dogs respond to higher frequencies, while large breed dogs respond better to lower frequencies.

Although the human ear may not be able to hear the difference between the different frequencies of two whistles, your dog and other dogs can. If you often work or train with a group, you might like to have a whistle that emits a sound that is unique for you and your dog.

This is especially applicable for people competing in field trials where several dogs may be working in the field at the same time. You don’t want your hound to come bounding up to you when your neighbor blows their whistle!

Another aspect of dog whistle training with different frequencies is that you can use the same whistle (if it is one which you can set to whistle at different frequencies) to relate different signals. For example, you can train your signals at one pitch and then a reprimand indicator at a higher pitch.


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How the Silent Dog Whistle Works

The silent dog whistle, or Galton’s whistle, was invented by Sir Francis Galton in 1876. This whistle is not actually silent. It emits a sound in the ultrasonic range, which most people do not perceive, but animals do.

The most common ‘silent whistles’ emit a sound with a frequency of about 35 000 Hz. This is beyond the scope of human hearing, but crystal clear for most hounds. What is handy about these silent whistles is that you can train your dog to come to you without disturbing those around you.

For example, when you are at the park and Rover strays a little too far from you, you can call them back to you with the whistle and your fellow dog walkers will be none-the-wiser.

woman using dog whistle sound for dog training

The Many Ways of Using a Dog Whistle Sound for Training!

Using whistle sounds for dog training is great! Dogs’ ears are more tuned to the higher frequencies emitted by whistles than they are to the frequencies of human voices. The blast from a whistle can travel longer distances than your shouting.

Also, whistles have the added advantage of not showing emotions like frustration and desperation. Dog whistles are consistent in the sounds that they emit.

All dog owners want an obedient pup that they can take for care-free walks in the park. You can train your hound to perform a variety of different tasks with whistle signals.

Use different combinations of short (pips) and long (peep) blasts from the whistle to indicate different commands. The 3 most basic cues that whistles are used for are:

1. Recall

This is usually a few repeated blasts from the whistle, e.g. pip-pip-peep or pip-pip-pip-pip. This is the most useful command. If your dog responds to this signal well, you can happily go for long off-leash walks with your pup and trust that they will return to you from a sticky situation if you just call with the whistle.

2. Sit

Usually one long blast. You start by training this with your dog at heel or in close proximity and can slowly build up to giving this signal at quite a distance. When doing field trials, you can use this signal to get your hound to focus its attention on you so that you can give directional change signals. In the humble dog park, you can signal to your dog to sit if you see a potential threat (like a car) up ahead.

3. Direction changes

One long trill noise. This cue is mostly used in hunting and field trials.

There are many sites and products advertising that a dog whistle can get a dog to stop barking. Buying a whistle is no magic cure for relentless barking. You can get your dog to stop barking with a whistle cue. However, it is going to take patience, training, and treats (time to get out the T-bone steaks); as with any other cue or signal that you would like to teach your dog.

How NOT to Use a Whistle for Training!

Because of their super hearing powers, doggo ears are far more sensitive to loud noises than ours are. Do not whistle straight into your dog’s ear. This could be very painful and stressful for your dog.

Some believe that buying a whistle is a magical cure-all. It is not. Most dogs do respond more eagerly to whistle cues than to voice cues and hand signals. However, you still need to take the time to associate positive behaviors with whistle signals.

As with any training method, it will take some time to get your dog used to whistle cues instead of verbal commands.

woman using dog whistle frequency for training

Don’t Have Your Dog Whistle with You? Try a Dog Whistle App!

Have you ever arrived at the park only to realize that you have left your dog whistle at home? It’s a good thing then that we almost always have our phones with us. Fortunately, there are some pretty nifty dog whistle apps available.

The Dog Whistler and Dog Whistle Free apps allow you to set the frequency and length of time of the whistle. You can create your very own unique whistle sound to call your pup!

The Dog Whistle to Train Your Dog app and the Dog Whistle, Free Dog Trainer app have variable frequency settings and come with a few lessons to get you and your pooch started with some clever tricks! The race is on to be the cutest cleverest pupster!

Common Questions about Dog Whistles

How Do Silent Whistles Work?

Do Dog Whistles Hurt Dogs?

Why Can Only Dogs Hear Dog Whistles?

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