Why are dog whistles the ideal dog recall tool?

Whistles are used in many different ways in different dog training situations from sheepdog trials to police dog handling to gundog training.  But they are also used by a great many pet owners as recall tools.

Why are whistles so suited to this purpose?

  1. A whistle produces a loud sound that can carry across long distances. This makes dog whistles ideal for recalls because our dogs can drift quite a distance from us, especially if they are upwind on a windy day!  In these situations, your dog is much more likely to be able to hear a whistle than your voice.
  1. A whistle produces a sound that dogs seem to be naturally interested in, which is good for training. We always recommend that you pair a dog whistle with a reward that the dog really enjoys.  This may be a food reward, a toy or something else that the dog loves, such as going for a walk or a ride in the car.  By pairing the whistle with the reinforcement, the dog will know that as soon as he hears it, the reward will be waiting and he will come running back.  The fact that dogs are interested in the sound makes this process easier because they will naturally return to you the first few times they hear the sound, which is your opportunity to reinforce the return behaviour.  It’s a good foundation to build upon.
  1. The whistle can’t convey any emotion. If you are annoyed with the dog for running further away than you would like or because he has ignored your voice calls, then he won’t be able to tell from your whistle that you are annoyed with him.  This means that he is more likely to return to you unaware that you are angry. 

By contrast, if he could tell that you are annoyed with him by the sound of your voice, he may well linger longer before coming back, anxious that he will be punished.  Which, incidentally, you should NEVER do.  Telling off a dog that finally comes back to you after running off is the best way to get him to stay away longer next time. 

  1. A whistle sounds unlike anything else the dog will hear in his day to day life. Therefore, as soon as he hears it, there will be no mistaking it or room for doubt. 

We use our voices all day long and may say many words similar to the dog’s name or vocal recall cue throughout the course of the day, so a dog is much more likely to pick out a whistle than your voice where there is any background noise.

Our ACME dog whistles are one of our best-selling items and we currently have them available in our recall training packs.  These packs include everything you need to teach a food motivated dog to come when whistled, including three packs of 100% meat training treats and a training card with instructions on how to train a whistle recall.