Welcome to PetForums

Join thousands of other pet owners and pet lovers on the UK's most popular and friendly pet community and discussion forum.

Sign Up

How to train a whistle recall

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by JoanneF, Oct 26, 2020.


  1. JoanneF

    JoanneF PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2016
    Messages:
    9,665
    Likes Received:
    20,924
    This came up in another thread, so to avoid taking that one off topic, I'll put this here.

    To train a whistle, first you have to teach the dog that it is an awesome thing, then by default coming back to you is an awesome thing. So first, charge the whistle (I recommend an acme whistle, easy to replace with the same tone if it gets lost). Simultaneously - that's important - pip the whistle and feed a piece of roast chicken or frankfurter sausage. Do that five times in succession. Repeat that five times in the day (so 5 x 5). Now your dog knows whistle = sausage.

    Do that over several days. Then take the whistle to another room. When you whistle, your dog should be running for his reward. If not go back to the previous step - which is always what you do if a training response fails. Practice in the house for a couple of days and then take it to the garden. Once he is solid in the garden, use it in a low distraction environment outside.

    There are, in my view, three main reasons why a dog doesn't do as you ask. The first is he doesn't understand - so your work in the house to train to this point eliminates that one. The second is that you are fighting a deeply rooted breed trait - there is a reason why we don't use terriers to herd sheep. It can be trained but it's a lot harder. It's the third one that's potentially an issue and that is that the reward or motivation to do what you ask is not as high as the reward or motivation to keep doing as he is doing. So if he is having a ball, chasing squirrels or playing with other dogs, a piece of sausage may not trump that. So, don't set him up to fail by whistling when you think he us unlikely to come back - practice, practice, practice in low distraction situations until he doesn't even think about it. Very gradually try a whistle with a distraction in the distance and eventually, decreasing the distance, you can build up to recalling being solid no matter what.

    And during training, if you think there is a risk he may not recall, use a long line (only ever attached to a harness, never a collar to prevent neck injury) so he cannot fail.

    After a few weeks you can fade the reward. Sometimes sausage, sometimes normal food, sometimes an ear rub. By mixing it up, you will keep his interest - the ”what will it be” factor. Its apparently the same reason why people play slot machines.
     
    LittleMow, Torin., Sarah H and 2 others like this.
  2. tabelmabel

    tabelmabel PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2013
    Messages:
    6,113
    Likes Received:
    11,387
    This is great @JoanneF. I would also highly recommend Pippa mattinson's book 'Total Recall'


    This book takes the reader right through training a recall from nothing to . . .Total Recall.

    It is extremely systematic and contains checklists of every conceivable environment in which you need to proof your training.


    And includes scenarios where you should NOT blow the whistle. Very important or you risk a poisoned cue.


    This book is very easily available online. Not expensive and worth its weight in gold. It is a programme which you follow right through.


    When any recall fails, it is usually due to insufficient proofing at some stage of the process and this book explains all that so very clearly.

    If you read this, and your recall isnt perfect at the end - at least you will understand why!!
     
  3. LittleMow

    LittleMow PetForums Member

    Joined:
    May 2, 2019
    Messages:
    332
    Likes Received:
    904
    Thanks for this, my mum is starting the process of whistle training one of her spaniels. I'm going to see her tomorrow so will pass on the advice. I think she hasn't been using a high enough reward tbh. Bonnie is very food motivated and will work for kibble but I think with recall a higher reward is in order.

    Think I'll get her the Pippa book for Christmas, then I can borrow it after :D. The spaniels are 5 now and recall has been an on again off again issue. They are both really good on the beach, but Bonnie is on lead in woodland and open fields as she was gone for 2 hours once and was found exhausted.
     
    tabelmabel likes this.
  4. O2.0

    O2.0 PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    May 23, 2018
    Messages:
    7,291
    Likes Received:
    21,995
    @Butmom you may find this thread helpful :)
     
  5. tabelmabel

    tabelmabel PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2013
    Messages:
    6,113
    Likes Received:
    11,387


    Hmmmmmm . . . .who does that remind me of i wonder :rolleyes:


    Though Tilly has never been missing 2hrs thank goodness.
     
    JoanneF and LittleMow like this.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice