No matter how well trained your pooch may be, he may turn a deaf ear when you deliver commands at a distance. You can't blame him; most likely those blustery winds are muffling your voice when he's hunting in heavy cover. In this case, a silent whistle comes handy so Rex's potent ears can readily pick up the tone even from a distance. Don't expect him though to respond to it right away; he first requires some training.
How to Use a Dog Whistle
Understand the Sound
When you blow a silent whistle for the very first time, you may expect it to not make a sound. Don't panic if it does; most likely you didn't purchase the wrong type of whistle. In reality, the term silent whistle turns out to be a bit of a misnomer. While a silent whistle is meant to operate at frequencies between 16 and 22 kilohertz, you may still be able to hear something for the simple fact that a human's ears can detect sounds up to about 20 kilohertz.
Adjust the Pitch
Take a look at your silent whistle. Some models boast a locking nut that can be loosened allowing you to adjust the screw so you can gauge the pitch. Now, blow through your whistle and watch your dog carefully as you evaluate his reaction towards different pitches. Choose the pitch that seems to grab your dog's attention the most from a distance. Look for an orienting response such as Rex's ears pricking up or his head turning your way. Once you have gotten a satisfactory response, you can then use the locking nut to keep the screw in place.
Pick the Tones
Just like verbal commands have different sounds, you want your whistle's blasts and pips to be as unique as possible so Rex doesn't have a hard time distinguishing them. Try experimenting with long blasts, short pips and rising and falling sounds. While you're pretty much free to use any sound you like for your commands, consider that professional whistle training often relies on some universal commands. For instance, one long blast is used for sit, three or four repeated blasts are used for recalls and one long trill noise is used for changes in direction, according to Kelly Olson, a breeder and trainer of gun dogs.
Introduce the Whistle
If your companion consistently responds to verbal commands or hand signals, then it's time to throw the whistle into the mix. The best way to accomplish this is by allowing the sound of the whistle to precede the familiar verbal command or hand signal. Repetition after repetition, Rex will soon learn that the new sound predicts the well-known verbal command or hand signal, therefore, he'll soon be on his way to responding to the whistle sound alone.
Practice the Whistle
Practice makes perfect when it comes to whistle training your dog and Rex really needs some encouragement especially during the initial stages of learning. For instance, if you're training a recall, blow on the whistle first and then call your dog using his familiar command. Once he reaches you, make sure you give him oodles and oodles of praise. Do this about four to five times a day, and within a week, you should have Rex enthusiastically running to you at the blast of a whistle.
Use the Whistle
Now that your dog is trained to respond to the sound of a whistle, you can put it to good use. No more yelling at the top of your lungs, to distract Rex so he stops working on his excavation project by your vegetable patch. If you're planning to impress family and friends, show them how smart Rex is by having him readily sit and come running to you at a toot of a whistle. If on the other hand you're taking your pal hunting with you, you can finally stop startling those wild animals and risking giving them a heart attack with your constant shouting.
By Adrienne Farricelli
About the Author
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.