How to Use A Dog Whistle for Training

Dog Whistle for Training
Photo Credit: Silberfuchs,

Whistles have been used since the 19th century. Before then, humans whistle at their dogs as a means of communication.

Using a dog whistle in training is not as easy as people think. Choosing the whistle as a training tool should be carefully considered because it will be used throughout the dog’s life.

Just like verbal cues, the use of whistles should be conducted with precision and vigilance so as not to mistakenly enforce unwanted behavior.

The whistle to be used has to maintain a particular pitch and tone that won’t waver with time. The sound should also be distinct enough not to be heard from other people.

Training a dog with the whistle is a tedious task and it works better on puppies that do not have a lot of established habits.

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Training A Dog with a Whistle

Most dog trainers and owners use whistles to train dogs. They can be used alone or in combination with treats and clickers to let a dog know that a command has been conducted successfully.

The sound made by the whistle gets the attention of the dog and won’t make them excited as we were made to believe.

The type used by a dog parent does not really matter. It can be physical or digital, but the frequency should be the same all the time.

Training a dog with the use of a whistle requires time and patience just like other methods of dog training. It is still considered the most successful method of getting the attention of your dog and to get it to carry out a task.

The four basic steps to take in training a dog with a whistle are:

  1. Decide on how to blow the whistle to represent different cues. You could use three blasts to represent “sit” and a long blast to represent “stop”. You can write them down to enable you to get it all together and not muddle it up or forget it sometimes.
  2. Practice the cues you have chosen and adjust some sounds that may be similar. It is best to practice away from the dog so that it does not consider the whistle as one of the familiar sounds in its surroundings.
  3. Transfer the verbal commands to the whistle sounds. Start off with commands that the dog is already familiar with or is already obeying. Use the sound pattern you have chosen for that command and say the command. When the dog obeys, reward it and then repeat the procedure.
  4. If the dog obeys the command often, use the whistle sound and do not say the verbal command unless the dog delays in obeying.

After some time, do not say the cue word anymore, continue to use the whistle sound and reward once the action is completed. Other commands can be transferred in this manner.

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Training A Puppy or An Untrained Dog with The Whistle

If your puppy or dog has not been trained before, the training goes a bit differently. There are no commands to be transferred to the whistle, so they are all learned afresh.

There are different body languages and gestures used to represent each command, but it can be tweaked by you to suit your dog and your personality.


To get your puppy or dog to sit, hold a treat over the dog’s head and keep tilting your hand toward its back slowly.

As the dog follows the treat with its head, its bottom will hit the ground. Immediate this happens, blow the whistle sounds to be associated with the command and reward the dog.

Repeat this multiple times until the dog starts to obey the whistle sound without a treat lure.


Attach a collar and a lead to your dog. Allow it to play and wander off by itself a little. Call the dog and watch it turn to come towards you. Once the turn is made towards your direction, blow the whistle sounds that represent the recall command.

When the dog comes, reward and repeat the procedure again. When the dog is familiar with the sound, stop using the verbal commands and use only the whistle sounds.

VIDEO: How to Train Using a Dog Whistle

This video explains how to use a whistle to train a dog to sit.

Types of Dog Training Whistles

Dog training whistles are special devices that are used in place of or in combination with verbal commands in dog training.

They produce sounds of very high frequencies that sometimes can not be heard by the human ear. These whistles emit sounds of about 23-46 kHz and have a narrow body that makes the pitch to be quite high.

The high frequencies of these whistles are not damaging to the dog’s ears but are rather interesting since it is not a type of sound they encounter often.

The types of dog training whistles are:

Silent or Ultrasonic Whistles

These whistles produce sounds of remarkably high frequencies that are not heard by the human ear. They are designed to have adjustable frequencies within a given range.

This design that allows the frequencies to be adjusted is because different dogs respond optimally to different frequencies. They can hear sounds of specific frequencies and the whistles then needs to be adjusted to fit into their range.

These silent whistles commonly look like a pen and do not make a sound when it is blown. The sound you will hear it the sound of air as it leaves the whistle.

It is a great choice by dog owners since they can communicate with their dogs without disturbing neighbors and people they are living with.

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Pea Whistle

The pea is the small ball found inside some whistles. The pea rattles inside the whistle when you shake it and can be seen if the whistle is transparent or if you peek through the air hole.

The function of the pea is to produce different sounds. These different sound types produced by this type of whistle can be utilized to dog parents and trainers as commands.

Because of the pea, you can trill your whistle and produce different sounds by adjusting the length and strength of the air blown into the whistle. The dog can be trained to respond to different sounds as different commands.

The disadvantage of the pea whistle is that the saliva can freeze the pea in cold weather and prevent the whistle from producing sounds.

Although this type of whistle is perfect for training a dog at home and in the dog park, is is not suitable for hunting or training a dog in a vast area of land.

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Pealess Whistles

Unlike the ultrasonic whistles, the pealess whistles have fewer sound range. As the name implies, the whistle does not have a pea inside it.

This type of whistle is commonly used in cold regions since it is less prone to freezing than the whistles that have peas in them.

Since there are no peas present in them to obstruct airflow, it produces a louder sound that the ones that contain peas. Some pealess whistles are very loud and can be heard as far as 2 miles.

The pitch does not waver since there is no pea to obstruct the sound. So even though you are sad or happy, in a cold environment or in a noisy neighborhood, you can make the exact same sound every time.

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What to Do When You Forget or Lose Your Whistle

Have you reached for the whistle at the spot you usually keep it and cannot find it? Or did you arrive at the park only to find out that that you have forgotten your dog whistle?

If are not looking for your smartphone too, then we are in luck. Luckily, there are some quite useful dog-whistle apps available online.

These dog whistle sites allow you to set the frequency to that of your forgotten or lost whistle and recreate the exact sound.

Some apps even go as far as teaching you new tricks to train your dogs with. I guess its time to turn that frown upside down, isn’t it?

Factors to Consider When Choosing A Dog Training Whistle

Before you start training a dog, you need to get a whistle. They come in assorted sizes, shapes, and frequencies. You need to choose a whistle and stick with it for the rest of your dog’s life. Here are the factors to consider before choosing a whistle for your dog.

The Range of Its Frequency

This simply means the pitch of the whistle. Whistles come in different frequencies and it does not really matter the one you decide to choose. What matters is that you just have to stick with it.

If there is a need to replace the dog whistle, the exact frequency must be bought. If this is not done, the dog might not be responsive to the whistle. It is advisable to memorize the frequency and also write it down for further use.

High Quality and Sturdy Design

Plastic and wood dog whistle should never be bought, metal whistles remain the best options. This is because the whistle to be used for dog training has to be tough.

The whistle is going to be used all the time both at home and in the streets. It is going to carried around all the time and might get dropped a lot of times too.

Therefore, the whistle should be able to withstand the wear and tear that comes with its usage and should be able to last as long as possible. It should also be easy to maintain, clean and carry about.

Great Sound

Although it is believed that dogs can hear sounds of higher frequencies than we do, you still need to get a whistle you can hear and withstand its pitch.

You do not have to use a whistle of a remarkably high frequency or pitch to train your dog. Since you participate in the training too, you should also be comfortable with the sound of the whistle you are using.

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The Benefits of Using Whistle for Dog Training

Using a whistle to train a dog is a tedious task. While some dog parent achieves success early with their puppies, some do not. Most times, the exposure of the dog to other stimuli can muddle up the training.

There are many benefits of using the whistle to train dogs than the verbal cues alone. These benefits make many dog parents choose this method above other methods.

Some of the benefits of using the dog whistle in training are:


The use of whistles to communicate with dogs was popular in farms. Shepherds used whistles to call the attention of their dogs when they are in a distance. The human voice cannot go as far as a whistle can go. If your dog is far away, your voice might not be able to reach as it should or as far as you want it.

Whistles can actually be heard as far as 200 yards. This makes it especially useful especially if the dog lives or is trained in a large area of land and in stormy or noisy weather.

When living in a city or a suburban area, a whistle can be used to get the attention of your dog whenever it decided to run off.

Whistles have a high pitched sound that can pierce through any background noise and is not similar to any type of sound heard by the dog in everyday lives. It is unique and has a frequency that the dog can clearly hear.

When a dog hears its owners whistle, the dog’s attention is captured, all the distractions fade away and its focus returns to the owner. This usually works best in a dog park where are so many dogs to play with and so many dog owners dishing out various verbal commands.


When training a dog, being consistent is key. The tone and the pitch of your voice, the timing and the body language have to be consistent.

Initially, you might have it all under control, but when the dog gets older, it might become harder to get its attention with the same pitch and gestures you used when it was still a puppy.

Whenever you give a command to a dog, the emotions and the tone should be the same else, the dog might get confused.

No matter how you feel, the sound of the whistle you blow is the same. The sound is the same no matter if you are angry, excited, or impatient. This does not get the dog confused so that it knows what to do at any given time.

Also, if verbal commands are used in dog training, they might hear those words in conversations and starts to obey. If no rewards or reinforcements come after they obey, they might think it is an optional command and develop behavioral issues.

Starting Afresh

Some dog owners might give in to emotions and let the dog training sessions stop before the behavior is established. Some dog training sessions might have been put on hold due to the change in schedules of the dog owner.

If only verbal cues were used to train the dog, it might let the habits go and revert to its old ways. If the training needs to be started afresh, the dog whistle remains the best option since the dog would have considered the verbal commands inactive.

When the new training sessions are done with the whistle, it is a whole new set of commands to the dog and it is a great way to start all over again on a clean slate. You do not have to worry about getting the dog to obey old commands, the whistle is quite different.

Different Trainers

Sometimes, the dog can be trained by someone else. A family member or a friend can decide to assist in taking the dog for a walk or to train the dog.

If the dog was trained to respond to only your voice, it will be a tad bit difficult to get the dog’s full attention or cooperation especially in places full of distractions.

If a whistle is used to train a dog, it will be attentive to the commands regardless of who gives it so far it is done with the whistle which sounds the same all the time.

Actions to Avoid While Training A Dog with A Whistle

  1. Never blow a whistle into your dog’s ear. It could be stressful for the dog or even cause pain.
  2. Do not fix a deadline for the dog to transfer from verbal commands to whistle commands. Dogs differ in their abilities to learn and establish behavior. it is, therefore, wrong to use the training time frame of a dog for another dog.
  3. Do not use the whistle as an anti-barking tool. There are other measures used to stop a dog from incessant and unnecessary barking.
  4. Do not start off with training your dog without practicing and mastering the whistle cues. Mixing up the commands and sounds might affect the behavior of your dog and make training more tedious for both of you.
  5. Do not treat a dog for responding to the whistle only. Make sure it is obeying a command. If this is not done, the dog might mistake the whistle as a signal for treat time.
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