Game Fair was a full swing summer event by our old house and I heard lots of whistling for dogs, but not too many that would make sense to the dog hearing them . Here are some tips to help you teach your dog to respond to a whistle.
Whistle training is really easy and doesn't take too much time. In it's simplest form, all you do is blow your whistle right before giving the verbal command that your dog all ready understands. I like the two-tone whistles for training because the end with the ball inside is louder and the sound will carry over longer distances. The opposite end (without the ball) is great for close work and so loud that your dog will be blasted with sound and doesn't annoy other people in the general vicinity. The following tips should help you get your dog working quickly to the whistle. I would practice these commands alone so you get the hang of them before using them with your dog.
COME. Bring the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth just behind your front teeth, then blow into the whistle. Your tongue will flutter. (I think it sounds like quail flushing.) Now flutter your tongue as you blow into the whistle. It should make a trilling sound. A long trilling sound is best for your COME command.
SIT. There is no whistle sound for HEEL, the dog should always be close enough to hear our voice for the HEEL command. After HEEL, blow one sharp authoritative blast immediately before telling your dog to SIT. If the dog doesn't sit immediately, assist him into the position, but do not blow the whistle again. Initially all the SIT work will be up close. By the time the dogs are ready to be away from us, the SIT command will be well established. One sharp authoritative blast will be the SIT signal.
RELEASE. This is the verbal command to allow the dog to leave a STAY command. Later this command will precede the FETCH command and may even take place of FETCH meaning it is okay to go after the dummy or bird. It is useful in the field when the dog should be quartering and they are lazy or hanging around their dog friends. Start with the SIT whistle, then give a new direction with your arm as you blow your whistle for GO. Begin by blowing two rapid notes into the whistle, tweet-tweet, immediately before saying GO at the target (food and treats work well for this exercise.) Two rapid notes, tweet-tweet will be the release signal.
Once your dog is reliably responding to the whistle, vary your commands. Sometimes just use the whistle, sometimes just voice, sometimes just hand signals. Keep practicing the various "languages" you have taught your dog so he will respond reliably to all of them. Don't stop training with the whistle once your dog has the concept. Like people, they can forget quickly. Keep using the whistle, your voice and hand signals so your dog has a great working knowledge of all commands in all languages.
When your dog is handling well with the whistle, don't get a big head over it. Only use your whistle when you need to, otherwise you may start to nag your dog and annoy everyone around you. (Over use of the whistle also brands you as an amateur.) Learn to use your whistle only when necessary.
If you ever get lost in the woods, use your whistle to help people locate you. The whistle will be more effective than the three shot SOS from your shotgun. Morse Code for SOS is: short-short-short, long-long-long, short-short-short. SOS on the whistle indefinitely. If it really gets bad, put the whistle in your mouth and your breath will make enough noise that a trained Search and Rescue dog may locate you.
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