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With the arrival recently of Jas we now have three dogs, although only Jas is a Labrador.
We had mixed results with the training of the 2 terriers and I'd be the first to admit that if they had a report card each it would read ' must do better ' !
We would very much like to get it right with Jas, she's lovely pup, her mum is rock solid and we don't want to make too many mistakes this time round. It's been suggested to me by another (experienced) dog owner that we teach recall by using a dog whistle. We have a few misgivings about this idea, we've got the feeling that Jas should recognise our voices and come when we call her name.........Opinions please 馃檪
 

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Those of us who work our dogs use a whistle for two reasons. 1/ The sound carries better at a long distance, and 2/ It is less likely to disturb the birds than a voice. It certainly is not because it is more reliable than voice. But where it does shine is that where a dog has learned to ignore voice commands it gives a second chance, a chance to do a better job of training the second time around. That really is all, it's no magic bullet!

I always train my pups to voice first, simply because I never forget to take my voice with me. ;) I then start adding the whistle in, so voice then whistle. The third stage is to use the whistle first then voice, and finally just whistle.

For a whistle, a cheap plastic Acme whistle is best. They come in a number of different pitches, identified by a number. 210 and 211.5 are the most common. Spaniel people, because their job is normally to work quite close to the handler, usually use a 210, but Retrievers, being wider ranging in their work usually use a 211.5 because the sound carries better at a distance.

If you are going to use a whistle you are going to need a lanyard to hang it around your neck. There is some quite pretty ones around these days, although I prefer a simple rolled leather one. I find it more comfortable round my neck on a hot summers day.

Commands used by retriever people and one short pip as a stop signal and three longer peeps for recall. Some people these days also add a third whistle is as a hunt there command, but I never bother. (Spaniel commands are a bit different with one short pip being used as a turn command when quartering an area of ground.) Most pet people only use one whistle command, and that for recalls.

But the problem with most people's training is that they use the commands far too often and never enforce the command. Because the command is allowed to be ignored it soon just becomes a sound rather than a command. Think this. You are in the kitchen preparing Mr A's dinner and glancing out of the kitchen window you spy your pup digging a hole at the top of the garden. You call out to him to stop and come indoors, but he thinks, "I'm having fun so I'll carry on a bit longer." You think, "Drat the dog, I'm too busy!" so leave it. But what has your pup learned? That your command is only a sound you make with no real meaning! Think about this. Maybe it would have been better not to have given the command, knowing you were too busy to follow it up. Obviously in the event of something really serious you have to try, but in most cases you can first put yourself into a position where you can if need be enforce the command, such as to take hold of his collar and bring him out of the area while at the same time giving his recall command. Remember, commands carry more weight the closer you are to your pup.

There is an old saying in dog training circles, "Get it wrong once is no problem. Get it wrong twice and it starts to get serious. Get it wrong three times and it becomes a learned procedure!" In other words, if you allow the wrong action to a command enough times then your dog will believe this is the action you want! There is absolutely no need to be hard on your dog, it was my generation who invented force free training. All that is needed is to ensure that you get yourself into a position where you can make sure your puppy cant get it wrong, so that you are always able to praise it for complying with your command. :)
 

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Those of us who work our dogs use a whistle for two reasons. 1/ The sound carries better at a long distance, and 2/ It is less likely to disturb the birds than a voice. It certainly is not because it is more reliable than voice. But where it does shine is that where a dog has learned to ignore voice commands it gives a second chance, a chance to do a better job of training the second time around. That really is all, it's no magic bullet!

I always train my pups to voice first, simply because I never forget to take my voice with me. ;) I then start adding the whistle in, so voice then whistle. The third stage is to use the whistle first then voice, and finally just whistle.

For a whistle, a cheap plastic Acme whistle is best. They come in a number of different pitches, identified by a number. 210 and 211.5 are the most common. Spaniel people, because their job is normally to work quite close to the handler, usually use a 210, but Retrievers, being wider ranging in their work usually use a 211.5 because the sound carries better at a distance.

If you are going to use a whistle you are going to need a lanyard to hang it around your neck. There is some quite pretty ones around these days, although I prefer a simple rolled leather one. I find it more comfortable round my neck on a hot summers day.

Commands used by retriever people and one short pip as a stop signal and three longer peeps for recall. Some people these days also add a third whistle is as a hunt there command, but I never bother. (Spaniel commands are a bit different with one short pip being used as a turn command when quartering an area of ground.) Most pet people only use one whistle command, and that for recalls.

But the problem with most people's training is that they use the commands far too often and never enforce the command. Because the command is allowed to be ignored it soon just becomes a sound rather than a command. Think this. You are in the kitchen preparing Mr A's dinner and glancing out of the kitchen window you spy your pup digging a hole at the top of the garden. You call out to him to stop and come indoors, but he thinks, "I'm having fun so I'll carry on a bit longer." You think, "Drat the dog, I'm too busy!" so leave it. But what has your pup learned? That your command is only a sound you make with no real meaning! Think about this. Maybe it would have been better not to have given the command, knowing you were too busy to follow it up. Obviously in the event of something really serious you have to try, but in most cases you can first put yourself into a position where you can if need be enforce the command, such as to take hold of his collar and bring him out of the area while at the same time giving his recall command. Remember, commands carry more weight the closer you are to your pup.

There is an old saying in dog training circles, "Get it wrong once is no problem. Get it wrong twice and it starts to get serious. Get it wrong three times and it becomes a learned procedure!" In other words, if you allow the wrong action to a command enough times then your dog will believe this is the action you want! There is absolutely no need to be hard on your dog, it was my generation who invented force free training. All that is needed is to ensure that you get yourself into a position where you can make sure your puppy cant get it wrong, so that you are always able to praise it for complying with your command. :)
Thank you John for such a useful answer, great to have clarification on this. I love your example about me preparing Mr A's dinner, you are certainly a good judge of human nature 馃榾 We are trying to stay ' in charge ' while at the same time not overdoing the word no with such a young pup, I am learning that with dogs they feel your intention, wether you really mean something or not, it's too easy when busy or distracted to be lazy with the training like you say. After reading your reply we will be seriously considering the use of a whistle 馃憤
 

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Hailey, Yellow Lab
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There's a great book called Total Recall by Pippa Mattinson, perhaps you're familiar with it. She outlines a highly detailed program for training recall
Highly recommended.
 
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