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Dog Whistle Buyer's Guide by Steve Snell

A whistle-trained dog is easier to handle at a distance, in heavy cover, and when the wind is high. Whistle commands also keep from alerting game like verbal commands.

Basic Features of the Dog Training Whistles

We sell the 3 major brands of whistles --
  • Acme,
  • Roy Gonia (SportDOG) and
  • Fox 40.

    All three brands are high-quality products and come in many different styles and designs.

    • Most of the whistles we sell are made of high density plastic. We also have a few styles in metal.

    • These whistles are all well-made, high-end products. These whistles are not only the standard in dog training but they are also used around the world by professional and amateur referees for all major sporting events.

    • Whistles With a Pea -- Many of the dog whistles we sell have a "pea." The pea is the cork ball inside the whistle. Having a pea allows you to "trill" the whistle and make different combinations of sounds.

    • A Pealess whistle is designed for extreme cold weather. The pea in a whistle can freeze from the saliva that gets on it at sub zero temperatures. Pealess whistles also tend to be better at making quick blasts of sound.

    • Mega Horns -- Several of the Roy Gonia whistles come in a "Mega" version. These whistles have a small megaphone built around them to increase the volume and distance that your dog can hear them. What the mega does is push the sound away from the handler and out toward the dog. These are very loud whistles but they are easier on your ears because of the design.

    • Protect your hearing: All of the whistles that we sell are loud and any long term exposure to loud sounds can damage your hearing. That said, most folks don't use a whistle enough to do any major damage. We do recommend that you be careful how you use your dog training whistles.

    What a Dog Whistle Will NOT Do

    The whistles we sell are for training dogs. They are used to issue commands and get your dog's attention.

  • There is no whistle that will prevent or stop a dog from barking. A whistle may distract the dog from barking for a short period of time but the result in most cases will be temporary. "Annoying" a dog with a whistle is more likely to give a dog something to bark about than to make him stop. An electronic stimulation bark collar is the only effective method for controlling unwanted barking in our opinion.

  • We get many requests from walkers and joggers looking to keep dogs away with a whistle. We are not aware of any whistle that will repel a dog or make him leave an area.

  • We are not aware of a whistle that will stop a dog from fighting. As with any loud noise, a whistle might provide a temporary distraction, but it depends on the dog's level of aggression.

  • We also get requests from folks trying to work with deaf dogs and older dogs that have some hearing loss. Finding the right whistle depends on the extent of the hearing loss and what range of the dog's hearing is gone (high, low, or midrange). For deaf dogs we recommend a vibration collar for getting their attention and teaching commands with hand signals.

    Silent Whistles

    "Silent" Whistles work just like any other whistles -- you blow through them and they make a noise. It is called a "silent whistle" because it operates on a frequency above that of the average person's hearing. You will hear something, but not much. A few people can hear the actual tone, but most folks just hear the sound of the air going through the whistle.

    The idea behind this type of whistle is that it will not disturb anyone standing right there with you. Dog's hearing goes further into the ultrasonic range than people's so they can hear these whistles. In other words, it is very LOUD to dogs but very QUIET to people. The whistles are tunable so that you can tune it to a frequency that gets the most response from your dog.

    The Acme Silent Dog Whistle produces ultra high frequencies in the range of 5800 Hz to 12,400 Hz. You can read more about it and even hear a sample here. The silent whistle has the longest range of the whistles we carry.

  • Some dogs do not respond to the frequency range of the silent whistles.
  • If you want to minimize the disturbance to others, go with the silent whistle. Some people will hear it, but most will not.

    SportDOG Roy Gonia Whistles and MEGA Whistles

    Roy Gonia whistles have been the standard in Retriever Training for the last 30 years. We recommend the Roy Gonia Commander (red) Whistle for use with young pups and for short distance training as it is lower pitched and not as loud as the other whistles. The Orange and Black Special and the Roy Gonia Clear have a higher pitch and are louder.

    The Roy Gonia Mega Whistles have a plastic megaphone that is attached to the regular Gonia whistle. What the mega does is push the sound away from the handler and out toward the dog. These are very loud whistles but they are easier on your ears because of the design.

    Fox 40 Whistles for Dog Training

    The Fox 40 Classic Whistle is designed to be heard above all kinds of noise including breaking waves and thundering gale-force winds. The Fox 40 Classic's chambers are designed to self-clear when submerged in water. The Fox 40 Classic is a pealess design and has no moving parts to freeze or jam. It is an easy to blow, super loud whistle.

    The Fox 40 Mini is compact with a smaller mouthpiece. The Mini has the same pealess design and ultra-shrill tone of the Fox 40 Classic whistle.

    Acme Thunderer and Oblong Whistles

    Acme Whistles have been made in England since the late 1800's. They are the oldest whistle company in the world. Acme has pioneered the majority of whistle manufacturing techniques used today.

    The Acme Thunderer is our number one pointing dog whistle. I grew up using the plastic 558 and 559 as my main training whistles. The Acme Thunderer Metal Whistles are also staples in the bird dog world.

    Acme Oblong Whistles are a favorite of close working retriever trainers and flushing dog owners. These whistles are very easy on the handler's ears and are popular in situations when you don't need extreme volume.

    How to Train With a Whistle

    A pretty common misunderstanding by the general public is that dogs will automatically respond to a whistle with no training. A dog that knows his verbal commands will usually pick up whistle signals very quickly.

    If your dog will not obey your verbal commands there is no reason to think he will obey whistle commands.

    Without training these whistles are like any other noise to your dog. A whistle command is a cue just like a verbal command. Whistle training is achieved by overlaying the whistle command once the verbal command is mastered.

    The first thing you need to do is pick out a standard set of whistle commands. While you can train pretty much any command with a whistle, the normal ones are a recall or "here" command, "sit," and a "change direction" or turn command. The main whistle command in retriever work is the "Sit" whistle which is normally one quick blast. The here or recall whistle can be three or four quick blasts in rapid succession. I use a long trill for a turn whistle. My field dogs are trained to look at me after the turn command is given so I can give a hand signal for the correct direction if needed.

    Just like verbal commands, it really does not matter which whistle commands you use, but you must be consistent in your commands. Training with a whistle is just like regular vocal commands, but after the dog learns the command you add the whistle command after the verbal command.

    Let's start with the Sit whistle (one quick blast.) You need a dog that has mastered both "heel" and "sit" verbal commands. Start your dog out on a leash in the heel position. As you walk along give the verbal command "Sit" and then immediately blow the whistle. Your dog will sit. Give him verbal praise. Repeat this over and over: verbal command followed with the whistle command. After you have done a certain amount of this, start to drop the verbal command. Only give the verbal command every other time. Once you can see the dog understanding just the whistle command, you can stop giving the verbal.

    The same idea applies to all other commands. You will need to have different whistle combinations for every command so that the dog understands which one you want him to do.

    We always teach commands on a long line or check cord so we have physical control over the dog and can make him do what he needs to complete the command. I don't recommend that most folks teach more than two or three whistle commands. Keep them simple and make sure your dog understand the command before you add the next one.

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