Whistle Training: Getting Your Dog to Come Every Time

Object of this exercise is to train your dog to respond to a whistle – and to stop what he is doing and return immediately to the person blowing the whistle. But this exercise is not a substitute for the verbal recall; your dog should be trained to respond to both the whistle and the command come.

After you have trained a reliable verbal recall you can begin with the whistle training. Advantages: The whistle carries further than your voice, and the dog will respond to the whistle no matter who is blowing it.

Instructions:

  • Take your dog to a room with no distractions. Have some special treats in your pocket and the whistle around your neck.
  • When the dog is paying no attention to you, blow the whistle – one short blast- and wait until the dog comes over to you to investigate.
  • As soon as he does, praise and give him a very special treat. Repeat the same sequence as soon as he is no longer paying any attention to you.
  • The dog will learn to come to you when he hears the whistle because he is rewarded for doing so every time. No need for talking during the exercise, but you can certainly praise him. No coaxing or begging for the dog to come.
  • Repeat this exercise until your dog makes the connection between the whistle and the reward. This will be apparent to you by the eager response to the whistle blast. Practice 5 times on the first session and 3 times per session thereafter. Only practice this exercise every second day or 3 days during the week.
  • Only reward with something of extremely high value to the dog, something he would never get otherwise. You have to make it worth his while to stop and come running no matter what he is doing. Blow the whistle to give him a bone for chewing.

 

Watch for:

  • If your dog is particularly sensitive to sounds, blow the whistle quietly. The sound of the whistle should be the only stimulus that attracts the dog to you. Do not give any other commands or signals to try and attract the dog to come to you as that would defeat the object of this exercise.
  • The dog must be rewarded every single time he comes after the whistle blast.
  • The next progression is for you and your dog to practice in a confined area. Blow the whistle and praise / reward your dog for coming to you.
  • Practice this only three times per session and in three different locations. It’s important to change location as dogs don’t generalize very well.

 

Final Progression

Continue practicing this exercise in a confined area.  By now you will be able to tell whether or not your dog is reliable returning when you blow the whistle. The value of this exercise is that it gives you a means of having your dog return from a distance should you need him to return fast.

Only you can decide whether or not your dog is dependable enough to be trusted off leash under such circumstances. I only use this recall once a week to keep it in check.  I reward the dog lavishly for stopping, turning and running back to me no matter what the distraction may be.

For even more training and behavior tips, visit The Pee Press!

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