We can communicate with our dogs using signals; it can be with our gestures, voice, body, or a word. However, we can also use mechanical devices such as clickers and whistles. It can be confusing what to use when training our dogs.
Some people think that dog clickers and whistles are used for the same tasks, but they’re not. They are actually used for different purposes.
Let us discuss these two devices in detail, so you can decide what is better for you and your dog.
Dog whistles are often misunderstood by some. They believe dogs naturally understand that they should come back when they hear the whistle.
The dog whistle is also known as the silent whistle and Galton’s whistle. Francis Galton was the inventor of this device in 1876. It emits a sound that cannot be heard by the human ear but can be heard clearly by dogs and other animals.
Dogs are able to hear in the ultrasonic range. The dog whistle produces sound ranging from 23,000 Hertz to 54,000 Hertz. Humans can detect sounds from 64 to 23,000 Hertz.
How It Works
You will definitely need a little training if you desire to use whistles because your dog won’t just come rushing back at you when you blow the whistle.
Familiarize yourself with your whistle
If your dog whistle comes with an instruction booklet – read it. There are different whistles available in the market. You might have one that comes with a locking nut which you can loosen to adjust the pitch. When you have a whistle where the pitch can be adjusted, you can watch your dog’s reaction as you change the pitch and see what pitch is most effective for your dog. When you have identified the best pitch, you can then lock the nut.
If you wish to train various commands to your dog, you have to invest in different sounds. Think of verbal commands – they are different from one another. This is what you should do when using a whistle, so as not to confuse your dog. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Practice short pips and long blasts, then pay attention to the falling and rising sounds of the whistle. Then you can assign a specific pattern of sound to a particular command.
Here are examples of commands and their corresponding sound patterns:
|Sit||One long blast|
|Come||3 to 4 repeated blasts|
|Direction Changes||One ling thrill noise|
Introducing the whistle to your dog
If you have trained your dog using verbal commands prior to introducing the whistle, it will be easier adding the new device to the mix. What you have to do is let the whistle sound precede the command repeatedly, until your dog learns to associate the whistle sound to the verbal command. Of course, you have to do one command at a time. When your dog learns the whistle signal, you can choose to fade the verbal signal if you wish.
You have to make the whistle sound a conditioned reinforcer. When you blow the whistle, and your dog does what you need them to do, give them a treat. Repeat this process several times until your dog realizes the association.
Why the dog whistle works
- A dog whistle lacks emotion, which means is it’s consistent. We all know that consistency is very crucial in dog training.
- Anyone can use the dog whistle. If there are plenty of you in the household, your dog keeps hearing different voices throughout the day. It doesn’t matter who is blowing the whistle; it will sound just the same.
- The sound of the dog whistle can be heard by your dog from afar, where your voice cannot be heard anymore. You don’t want to be that person at the park yelling at their pooch to come back. Using a dog whistle can be a sophisticated, sharp way of communication with your dog outdoors.
- When used correctly, your dog will love the sound of the whistle, as exciting as when they hear a bag of treats being opened.
With a dog whistle, you can:
- Have a 100% recall.
- Ensure the safety of your dog outdoors.
- Make your dog learn to stop and stay at a distance.
- Have an easy to follow and simple dog training system that can be applied to all your dogs.
Advantages of Dog Whistle Training
Did you know that whistles can be heard from more than 200 yards away? This device became popular on farms first. They are used by shepherds in commanding their herding dogs from a distance. The human voice cannot be heard from great distances, so if your dog is too far away from you, they can’t hear you when you call them.
A dog whistle can be especially useful when you are training a working dog or if you have a large property where you train them. It is also helpful in the event your dog gets loose or takes a joy run. You can capture their attention by blowing the whistle.
The dog whistle has a high pitch that it can cut through any kind of noise. The frequency of the whistle is clearly heard by your dog, and it is not a typical sound that they hear at home or outside. That is why the sound of the dog whistle immediately stands out and can capture their attention quickly.
The sound of the whistle breaks them away from any form of distraction, as well. As a result, they will put their focus on you.
For dog training to be successful, consistency is the key. Using the same hand gesture or verbal command is just not enough. There will be instances wherein verbal commands can have different tones because the way we say words can be affected by our emotions. It will eventually confuse your dog.
The dog whistle will sound the same, no matter what you are feeling or how hard you blow into them. They will produce the same old tone when you are happy, mad, impatient, or sad. The consistency will eliminate the confusion and will let your dog know what you need them to do every time.
When you have other family members that share responsibilities when it comes to caring for the dog, whistle training will ensure that your dog will respond to the command, no matter who is giving it. Staying consistent is no problem as long as everyone responsible for the dog use the same training techniques and whistle commands.
A New and Fresh Start in Dog Training
Some dog owners tend to let their training techniques slide over time. Yes, puppies are cute, and it’s easy to give in and let things slip sometimes. However, inconsistent training and maintenance will allow your dog to learn some undesirable habits. Your dog will start ignoring commands when they know there is no ramification.
Dog whistle training can let you start over the training with a clean slate. The whistle’s tone is entirely different than the human voice, that’s why your dog can pick up training signals and cues without any issue. You won’t have to fret about the effects of the old verbal signals with a whistle.
How to Find a Suitable Dog Whistle
Dog whistles come in all sorts of sizes, shapes, and frequencies. It is important that you choose the right whistle for you.
Usually, a whistle that is high in quality is made from metal. Plastic and wood varieties exist too. You want to get a dog whistle that is sturdy and tough. You are going to use that tool in your home, and every time you are out with your dog. There are going to be times when you will drop it. Make sure it can withstand some wear and tear. Get a whistle that is also easy to maintain and clean.
This refers to the pitch that is produced by the whistle. It actually doesn’t matter what frequency you choose. However, you need to stick with one frequency once you pick one. If you have to replace your whistle, get a new one with the exact frequency because your dog might not respond to the new one.
Did you know that you don’t have to get a “silent” whistle? It is not mandatory that you get a super high-pitched whistle. It is actually recommended that you get one that you can still hear. By doing this, you can ensure that your commands are consistent because you are able to hear the whistle’s sound.
The clicker produces a clicking sound, hence the name. It is lightweight and small. It usually replaces the verbal marker “yes” and is used for positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is when your dog is rewarded when they do what you need them to do with something that they like, such as toys and treats.
Clickers produce a neutral and sharp sound that doesn’t draw out an emotional response. They are easy to use. However, keep in mind that you will still need to practice.
Using the Clicker
First, you have to practice timing with the clicker. You can do it while you are watching TV by clicking whenever you see a certain actor or every time a particular word is said. After getting the hang of it, you can practice it with your dog.
For instance, click whenever your pooch looks at you, then follow the click with a reward that they might like, such as a treat. Remember that you have to click at the exact moment your pooch looks at you, then immediately follow it with a treat.
Repeat the exercise several times a day. Your dog will then associate the clicking sound with the reward.
Shaping and Capturing Your Dog’s Behavior with a Clicker
Capturing your dog’s behavior is informing your dog that they’ve done something that was good, naturally. For instance, if you click and reward your dog whenever you notice them in the act of sitting, they will realize that you like it when they sit. As a result, they will do it more often if you click and reward more.
Shaping your dog is clicking and rewarding them for small or minor movements than sum up to a bigger goal. First, you have to think about what your main goal is, such as trying to get your dog to stay.
How to Clicker Train Your Dog
You don’t have to be intimidated by clicker training. It can be easy once you get the hang of it.
Here is a step-by-step guide that will help you master the clicker training.
- Help your dog understand the command.
If your dog is not yet familiar with a verbal command such as “sit,” you can start by getting their attention with a treat or sound. Then show them the treat and hold it just above their reach. Wait for your dog to settle down, then say the word “sit” then you can start moving towards them.
- Just as you see your dog in the process of sitting, click your clicker and immediately give the treat.
- Get your dog to stand and repeat the exercise.
Do’s and Don’ts of Using the Clicker
- Be observant. Watch out for clues that your dog understands the command and starts to follow through. The best timing to click is to do it a split second before they complete the task. This will make your dog understand what behavior they did that is favorable.
- Keep the session fun and the mood of the training light.
- Limit each session only up to 15 minutes.
- After your dog had a reasonable amount of exercise, you can begin the practice session.
- You can expect your dog to experience training reversion from time to time. Do not worry, it’s a normal part of the learning process of a dog because new behaviors are being committed to their memory.
- Use small treats. Pea-sized treats will work great just as long as your dog likes them. Large treats will make your dog full in no time.
- Use the internet. There are loads of information out there about clicker training. Read articles or watch videos.
- Scold your dog if they make a mistake. Do not make their training session stressful. Believe me, they want to make it right too.
- Compare your dog’s progress to other dogs. You have to be patient and realize that dogs have different paces when it comes to learning.
- Keep the training session going even though one of you is frustrated or angry by the process.
- Repeat a command if your dog does not follow through and trying to lead them with a treat. This will send the wrong message that their compliance is only optional.
- Teach her multiple commands at one time.
- Scold or punish your dog after hearing the clicker. It will establish a negative association.
Advantages of Clicker Training
- Your dog will be working in a highly rewarding ambiance, which will embolden them to explore and try new things.
- Clicker training is a reward-based training, and the sessions can last longer than other training methods.
- Your dog will learn quickly because of the perfect timing of every click. You have to practice timing first, so it will be perfect every time.
- You can use the clicker training method in any environment – while you are sitting down, standing up, or moving around the house.
- The clicker sound is consistent. It will eliminate unintended misinterpretations that verbal commands can have.
- There will be no delays in the reward when it comes to clicker training. Your dog will receive the reward immediately after performing a desirable behavior. They will realize immediately that what they did was correct and it will absolutely reinforce their favorable behavior. It is an effective tool of motivation for dogs.
- If there is more than one person in the family responsible for the training of the dog, there will be no problem using the clicker because it emits the same sound every time. Consistency is still there no matter who is holding and using the clicker, so your dog won’t be confused at all.
Where Clickers and Whistles Differ
Clickers and whistles both create signals for dogs, and that is their only similarity. Their purpose is different from each other.
- The clicker is used as an event marker
- The whistle is used as a cue.
An event marker will tell the dog that they just did something the handler liked. It also encourages your dog to repeat that certain marked behavior because it is a reward predictor, as well.
A cue will tell your dog that they are expected to provide a response. They give the proper response because they have been trained to do so.
You cannot interchange whistles and clickers in dog training because each has a different function and purpose. That is why you cannot really tell which is better. It will all depend on your style of training and what is comfortable for you.