Have You Whistle-Trained Your Dog to Recall/Come?

New dog Holly is nine months old and has been with us for nine weeks tomorrow.

Training has gone well in almost every way except coming when called, especially in our large and busy dog park. She lives in a fairly urban area, so it's important that she doesn't bolt away.

Have you trained your dog to come on a (not silent) whistle command? Any tips for this training? Is it realistic to think she'll respond even with a lot of distractions, including other dogs? Obviously, training will start without the presence of the other dogs.

Secondly, will a separate (silent) whistle be effective in stopping barking?

Added a picture of Holly following a bath. She wrestled with another dog in the mud at the dog park.IMG_0313.jpeg
 
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I used to have a dog that was fairly conditioned to respond to a whistle.

He also knew to stop doing something if I snapped my fingers. Not sure how he learned that one though...I'll just chalk that up to him being smart.

But I basically copied Pavlov and shook a bag of treats when I whistled or called him in some manner. Then lots of praise when he came. I would then consistently give him fewer treats. Again, he was a pretty smart dude, and it didn't take long for him to make the connection.

Oh!! You owe us pics of the new pup!! Pics or it didn't happen! 😉

Hope this helps.
 
I’m a professional dog trainer, happy to help. I take a lot of continuing education and stay up on the latest developments. Recall is one of my specialties!

The idea with a whistle or verbal cue is that the dog learns what it means through associations. If the dog comes to you on its own, give it treats, rubs, happy interaction every time. That will make it want to come to you more often. Then any time you know the dog is 100% headed to you, start adding the cue. Say/whistle it *after* they are already on their way to you. Repeat, repeat, be consistent. Always the same whistle or word.

Over repetitions the dog will associate the cue with (a) moving toward you and (b) getting rewarded. That’s how they learn what the cue means. It shouldn’t take long for them to understand that when you make the cue sound, they will come.

Barking is totally different, and I’ll have to talk about that in a different post later tonight. Short version: give the dog something interesting to do to occupy them, so they don’t feel the need to bark.
 
We've always trained our dogs with common hand/body commands & positioning (for agility.) We also use the corresponding verbal command so that either can be used, such as calling the dog from another room where they can't see us, or if they're facing/walking away.

We currently whistle just to get our 16.5 year-old's attention. He's hard of hearing but responds to our whistle.
 
Barking is totally different, and I’ll have to talk about that in a different post later tonight. Short version: give the dog something interesting to do to occupy them, so they don’t feel the need to bark.
Please do, because sometimes I feel that dogs don't find anything more interesting to do than to bark: at the doorbell, at the postman, at cars driving by, at leaves falling from the trees, etc.
 
I’m a professional dog trainer, happy to help. I take a lot of continuing education and stay up on the latest developments. Recall is one of my specialties!

The idea with a whistle or verbal cue is that the dog learns what it means through associations. If the dog comes to you on its own, give it treats, rubs, happy interaction every time. That will make it want to come to you more often. Then any time you know the dog is 100% headed to you, start adding the cue. Say/whistle it *after* they are already on their way to you. Repeat, repeat, be consistent. Always the same whistle or word.

Over repetitions the dog will associate the cue with (a) moving toward you and (b) getting rewarded. That’s how they learn what the cue means. It shouldn’t take long for them to understand that when you make the cue sound, they will come.

I've trained thousands of dogs. I agree with all of this, and I'll add that no audible command (verbal, whistle, etc.) is used until the behavior is first learned with no audible command, no command is ever given off-leash until it is 100% solid on-leash, and no advanced commands are trained until the basics are bomb-proof.

The barking advice I'd need to hear more details about, but what you posted could be part of a useful training regimen. My philosophy is that any behavior that a dog initiates on their own occurs because they believe that they have the option of choosing a behavior. I train dogs to understand that I am their leader, and therefore when they find themselves tempted to make a choice, they look to me first for guidance. Decision making is stressful for a dog. A dog that knows its job is a happy dog.

Please do, because sometimes I feel that dogs don't find anything more interesting to do than to bark: at the doorbell, at the postman, at cars driving by, at leaves falling from the trees, etc.

This is a perfect example of expected behavior from an untrained dog. It's true that they may be bored, but a trained dog that is given a task has no chance to become bored.
 
When you buy a new phone or computer, it comes pre-loaded with apps and programs that you may not want. It’s set up to automatically open the default app for any event. Dogs come pre-loaded with barking, jumping, begging, and biting. It’s also like the old adage that when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. It’s up to us humans to install the apps we actually want, or in the other story, put a wider variety of tools in the toolbox.

When dogs “misbehave” it is always because they didn’t know they had any other options. Or maybe you did try to teach them, but the new option just didn’t seem valuable enough to the dog, or not like the first tool they’d want to reach for. It’s 100% on us to give them more options, practice those options so consistently that they become automatic for the dog, and {this is important} make those options *valuable to the dog* (via rewards given consistently).

When one of our drumming skills is sloppy, we fix that by regular practice, and we are rewarded by feeling good in our craft, but especially by compliments on our performance. We need that payoff, and the dog needs a treat, or a game of tug, or whatever that dog finds most rewarding.

Dogs really don’t learn negatives well. We often think they learned “no” or “eh-eh” or whatever as a sign to stop it, but in the cases where it worked, what actually happened was they learned it was valuable to do something else instead. So eg if you say NO and the dog stops and sits and looks at you, and you give them some pets and praise, they didn’t learn “don’t do that bad thing”, they learned “sit and smile, and dad will give you some loving”. The bad behavior may even have been a bid to get your attention, to get to the next good part.

Skip the “no” and “quit it!” bit, and go directly to asking them for a good behavior that you like. A nice paw shake or something. The more regularly you do that, the more likely the dog will offer you that good behavior first, instead of going to the unwanted behavior.

A lot of dogs bark because they’re bored! Most of them weren’t bred to sit quietly in a house, they were bred to hunt ducks or rats etc. You’ve got to give them jobs to do. I like scentwork, rally, and other sports you can practice indoors or out. You can also give them a “frozen Kong”, where you stuff a rubber chew toy with peanut butter, pumpkin, cottage cheese, and freeze it. Let the dog figure it out.

Life in a house can be stressful too, especially when you don’t know how to handle the stress. So there’s a whole range of de-stressing programs to try out, which I’m happy to point you to. It’s all about helping the dog learn that they really don’t need to overreact to the things that set them off now.
 
I've trained thousands of dogs. I agree with all of this, and I'll add that no audible command (verbal, whistle, etc.) is used until the behavior is first learned with no audible command, no command is ever given off-leash until it is 100% solid on-leash, and no advanced commands are trained until the basics are bomb-proof.

The barking advice I'd need to hear more details about, but what you posted could be part of a useful training regimen. My philosophy is that any behavior that a dog initiates on their own occurs because they believe that they have the option of choosing a behavior. I train dogs to understand that I am their leader, and therefore when they find themselves tempted to make a choice, they look to me first for guidance. Decision making is stressful for a dog. A dog that knows its job is a happy dog.



This is a perfect example of expected behavior from an untrained dog. It's true that they may be bored, but a trained dog that is given a task has no chance to become bored.IMG_1014.jpeg
You're barking up the wrong tree.. !
 
New dog Holly is nine months old and has been with us for nine weeks tomorrow.

Training has gone well in almost every way except coming when called, especially in our large and busy dog park. She lives in a fairly urban area, so it's important that she doesn't bolt away.

Have you trained your dog to come on a (not silent) whistle command? Any tips for this training? Is it realistic to think she'll respond even with a lot of distractions, including other dogs? Obviously, training will start without the presence of the other dogs.

Secondly, will a separate (silent) whistle be effective in stopping barking?

Added a picture of Holly following a bath. She wrestled with another dog in the mud at the dog park.
Holly is cute. It's early days , She will find her place with you and when you build trust she will do what you want .. Be Patient and Tolerant.
 
When you buy a new phone or computer, it comes pre-loaded with apps and programs that you may not want. It’s set up to automatically open the default app for any event. Dogs come pre-loaded with barking, jumping, begging, and biting. It’s also like the old adage that when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. It’s up to us humans to install the apps we actually want...

Oy. I'd have to write a book to comment on this entire post. Let's just say (if you'll pardon the expression) there's more than one way to skin a cat.
 
And the old-timers here thought DogBreath was just a cute nickname.
IMG_1448.jpeg
He also enjoys off lead Powerlifting.. This dog could put you in hospital in 20 seconds flat . I trust him and he trusts me. No need for Man over Beast Mentality. That assumes the dog lacks intelligence.
 
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Holly is cute. It's early days , She will find her place with you and when you build trust she will do what you want .. Be Patient and Tolerant.

I like to have a dog off-leash trained with about 20 commands by the age of 16 weeks. Patience, trust, and tolerance are no substitute for a good education.
 
Oy. I'd have to write a book to comment on this entire post. Let's just say (if you'll pardon the expression) there's more than one way to skin a cat.
The science of animal behavior and learning has changed a LOT in the last 20 years, especially the last decade. Or rather, the science hasn’t changed much since Skinner, but dog trainers refused that and chose to follow German military dog training practices for several decades. A lot of old timers were indoctrinated to believe in the military method and they were told that was “the science”, and they get mad when trainers today talk about modern learning theory.
 
The science of animal behavior and learning has changed a LOT in the last 20 years, especially the last decade. Or rather, the science hasn’t changed much since Skinner, but dog trainers refused that and chose to follow German military dog training practices for several decades. A lot of old timers were indoctrinated to believe in the military method and they were told that was “the science”, and they get mad when trainers today talk about modern learning theory.
Really, they get mad? Sounds like the ones you've talked with have issues with their emotions. I just like to educate people and help them to have good relationships with their dogs. As far as things changing, the proof is in the pudding. Here is a very happy 12-week puppy that I eventually trained to be a partner to someone who was paralized from the chest down and used a wheelchair. Note that the video was posted 17 years ago. I doubt dogs have changed much since then.

 
No need for Man over Beast Mentality. That assumes the dog lacks intelligence.
That's an interesting philosophy. When I see an impeccably trained dog that understands the nature of the relationship between herself and her owner, I assume a great deal of intelligence. I also know how happy and fulfilled that dog is. An unreliably trained dog may also be very happy, but unfortunately in the world we live in that's almost never a safe dog. If you want a dog that does what she wants when she wants rather than follow your leadership explicitly, realize the danger you are putting that dog in.
 
Anyway... getting back to the original questions.

"Training has gone well in almost every way except coming when called, especially in our large and busy dog park."

As I started saying, never give a command off-leash until a dog is 100% solid on-leash. If you give her a command off-leash and she doesn't obey, you are actively undoing all of her previous training. You are showing her that she doesn't have to be obedient, and in fact she'll be rewarded for not being obedient.

"She lives in a fairly urban area, so it's important that she doesn't bolt away."

Exactly this. Spend some time in a veterinary office if you want to see the sad results of unreliably trained or untrained dogs.

"Have you trained your dog to come on a (not silent) whistle command?"

Why would you want to do this? Do you plan on carrying a whistle with you everywhere you go for the rest of the dog's life? Do you plan to give voice commands for every other desired behavior but only use a whistle for recall?

"Any tips for this training?"

Sure. It would be exactly the same as any other training, except you'd be using a whistle instead of a verbal command.

"Is it realistic to think she'll respond even with a lot of distractions, including other dogs?"

Absolutely, but it sounds like you're already putting her in the situation that she isn't trained for, which, again, actively undoes whatever training you may have started.

"Secondly, will a separate (silent) whistle be effective in stopping barking?"

So now you're carrying two whistles with you. Why? Short answer, you can train a dog to repond properly to any prompt that they are able to recognize: whistle, voice, hand signal, tapping your foot, facial expression, snapping your fingers, etc. But why overcomplicate things?

Whistles aren't magical devices. They make a consistent sound. That's it. If you want your dog to respond to you, decide what behaviors you'd like, then assign appropriate voice commands to each behavior, then teach her the behaviors while being consistent with the voice prompts. Reward her for desired behavior, and correct her for undesired behavior.

Do all of this on leash until she understands without the slightest doubt that her proper response to your commands (voice, whistle, whatever) will earn her a reward (food, toy, affection, or the word that she has learned to associate with those things), and her incorrect response will earn her a correction (or the word that she has learned to associate with a correction).

This is the extremely simplified explanation of dog training. There is much more to it, which is why you can read volumes of writing or spend weeks or months with a good trainer.
 
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