Whistle Recall Training

Teaching your dog to respond to a whistle has several advantages over relying on your voice alone.

Dogs do not respond automatically but need to be “tuned in”. The earlier you start the better, but it can be introduced at any age. Guide Dogs for the Blind introduce whistle feeding from six weeks of age!

How to “tune in” your dog.

You need to practise this at each meal for at least a week to form the whistle/food association.

You can then build up to using the whistle to call the dog to you in the house. Have another family member hold the dog, show the dog a nice food treat and walk away from the dog a short way. Use the same whistle signal as at feed time, the helper releases the dog, you reward the dog when he/she returns to you. As the dog gets the idea, ask for a sit on their return and take the collar before giving the treat (this ensures they don’t return, grab treat and shoot off again!). You can now go out of sight and call the dog, to make the exercise harder, and build up to practising in the garden to build up the distraction level.

When the dog is responding reliably, don’t give a food treat every time. This will keep the dog guessing, it’s like gambling – you never know when it will pay off, so is always worth trying. When the dog is reliable in the garden you are ready to practise out on walks.

Some do’s and don’ts

Never tell your dog off for a slow return, however annoyed you may be. If you shout or smack your dog on their return he will simply learn to avoid you.

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