When starting whistle training you must first decide what type of whistle you need. Whistling yourself will not prove as reliable as an artificial whistle because you may not be able to whistle when it is cold or windy. Also a human whistle is not as loud or as constant as, for example, a plastic whistle. Plus, no matter who takes Fido for his walk, if they have the whistle they can call him back without causing any confusion and so can be confident that he will return.

Do not select a ‘silent’ whistle as you will not be able to hear how hard you are blowing or if Fido can actually hear it, eg. when using it in strong wind, or even if it is blocked and therefore making no sound at all. Imagine scolding Fido for disobeying a whistle command that was never actually given!

I prefer to use an Acme plastic whistle, 211 1/2 pitch( the lower the number on the whistle the higher the pitch, eg. 210 1/2 will be higher ) as it is loud, of an average pitch, won’t rust and is cheap to buy, usually around 4, and so it doesn’t matter if it gets lost.

Whistle Recall
1. At every meal, as you put his food down, give multiple pips on the whistle. (Always use the same number of pips). This is the only time to use the whistle for the next couple of weeks. Fido is learning to associate the sound of the whistle with food.

2. After a couple of weeks, still using the whistle as in step 1, try blowing it when he is mooching around the house. So, give your pips and when he comes to you immediately reward him with a really tasty titbit.

3. After a few days , when you are confident that he will always come to you around the house, try whistling him in the garden, always remembering to reward him with a tasty morsel.

4. When he is recalling well in the garden go to the park, when it is quiet with few distractions. If you are unsure of his reaction you can put him on a long line.

5. Gradually increase the distractions and distance as his reliability improves.

REMEMBER to continue using the whistle at mealtimes during every step to continue reinforcing his behaviour. Only stop when he is really reliable.

Whistle Stop
Fido should already know the command for sit. You can now introduce one long pip on the whistle followed by his usual sit command. As a general rule, when adding a new command always try to place it before a command / cue that Fido
already knows.
For example:
new cue+ old cue= desired response
(whistle) (voice & hand signal) (sit)

To sit Fido must stop, so essentially a ‘whistle stop’ is a ‘whistle sit’.

NB� You can teach Fido to lie down at the sound of the whistle in exactly the same way as the whistle sit/stop. You can of course do this instead of a whistle sit/stop or in addition to a whistle sit/stop by using a different whistle
command.
In general, one long blast is usually best for an emergency command as it combines urgency with a direct command.

Top Training Tips

1.Plan ahead – what exactly do you want Fido to learn?
2.Write down your training plan.
3.Always reward Fido for doing the right thing, or trying to do the right thing.
4.Break the exercise down into small sections, rather than trying to teach the exercise as a whole
5.Make each step clear for Fido. Set him up for success. If he finds it too difficult he will become too stressed, if he becomes too stressed he cannot learn.
6.When training only move forward a step once Fido has understood the current step. If training separate steps simultaneously do not link them until Fido understands them all.
7.You can always go back a step if Fido seems confused.

Pamela Mackinnon
I’ve been training dogs as far back as I can remember, but I first got paid for it when I joined HM Customs & Excise and became a drug detector dog handler. After that I worked as a trainer for the charity Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. My next move was back to Scotland, where I joined the ranks of the self-employed as a dog training and behaviour consultant.

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