Banshee the Chinook – Photo by Riley
Whistle training is really easy and doesn’t take too much time. In
its simplest form, all you do is blow your whistle right before giving
the verbal command that your dog already 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
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. Keep blowing 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.