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Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Mick Pallett, Jan 10, 2021.
I have 11 month old ESS and I want to train her to the Whistle any tips please
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.
Pippa mattinson's book "Total Recall" will take you through whistle training step by step.
Acme whistles are excellent and 210 is recommended for spaniels.
Both the book and whistles easily available online. Get 2 or 3 whistles with the same tone in case you lose one.
It can also be handy to use 2 or 3 if you have helpers as you can whistle the dog to come from one point to another if you stand apart.
i use a acme whistle for mine, works brilliantly especially if you follow the advice above, i wold recommend this being one of your big training priorities.
But also in my opinion don't just use the whistle make sure still use the voice recall... just in case... so for example if doing a 10 rep recall session maybe have number 5 and 6 has voice command so its not fully reliant on the whistle
choose your environment carefully don't set the dog up to fail... dont go out and try the whistle if there is to much going on like other dogs running around etc... build it up slowly and give extra praise if successful in a tough environment
Thank you all so much great help !!!
Good advice above. 210.5 is best for spaniels.... have a look at books like The Pet Gundog or Force Free Gundog Training.