A dog whistle can theoretically stop a dog from barking, but it won’t work on every dog. In fact, for some dogs, it will increase their barking. To increase the chances of it working, you need to blow the whistle every time the dog barks. The dog may eventually learn that barking causes the noise.
No matter what breed of dog you have, it’s likely that they have barked excessively at one point or another. Some dogs are more prone to barking than others. Nervous or anxious dogs, for example, are more likely to bark at seemingly nothing compared to other dogs.
It can be frustrating when your dog is excessively barking. The good news is that there are many ways to discourage barking. One method dog owners use to stop their dog from barking is a dog whistle. When paired with proper training, whistles can work wonders.
Purposes of a Dog Whistle
Dog whistles are often shown in a very comedic manner in popular movies or cartoons, showing dogs going insane at the whistle. However, in real life, dog whistles are less severe. They emit a high-frequency whistle that human ears are unable to hear. Dogs, however, can hear it loud and clear.
The whistle works just like a standard whistle, except it is specifically designed for dogs. Imagine someone blowing a traditional whistle very close to your ear: dog whistles will have a similar effect on your dog. The whistle is annoying to dogs, but it doesn’t hurt their ears. This makes it a useful tool for training.
The primary purpose of dog whistles is training. If paired with something like a clicker, the dog whistle can serve as the signal that your dog is doing something wrong. The clicker, meanwhile, paired with a treat, is affirming.
Another purpose of a dog whistle is to get your dog’s attention. This may be the purpose you are more familiar with. Dogs get distracted when running around outside, especially when off-leash. They may also be having too much fun playing to realize you are calling them.
A whistle will get their attention and snap them out of the trance they are in. This is an opportunity for you to then practice recall. The whistle is just one part of it, but could be very helpful for getting your dog’s attention when they are focused on something else.
Dog whistles can also be beneficial when hunting. Your dog may be on the wrong track or heading the wrong way. A whistle can signify to your dog that there are new directions, and they will look to you for instruction. You can then point your dog in the right direction.
Problems With Dog Whistles
The biggest issue with dog whistles is that they have a far range. This means that if there are any other dogs in the vicinity besides yours, they might react. If you’re training with your dog in a park, for example, people living close by might be confused why their dogs are suddenly reacting.
A dog hearing a whistle with no signifier or any training will just make them react in discomfort. This means the neighborhood dogs might bark or whine in response. Their owners won’t understand what’s triggering this reaction.
Other animals can also hear dog whistles, so if you have other animals in your home (such as a cat), dog whistles may not be the best idea.
Additionally, you may find that a dog whistle will yield negative results if your dog often reacts aggressively. Remember, dog whistles can be a great training tool, but not all dogs respond positively.
Can a Dog Whistle Stop Excessive Barking?
A dog whistle alone is not likely to stop a dog from barking. As with any training method, you need to work with your dog and make sure they know what each sound means. If you simply whistle with no training, your dog will probably be confused as to why you are whistling. They will feel the discomfort and not know why.
So how can you teach your dog that the whistle means they need to stop barking? Just like any other training method, you need to make the association between barking and the whistle.
When your dog barks, you should give them the “Quiet” command and blow the whistle. As soon as your dog stops barking, give them a treat. You should do this consistently over a long period. Do not give your dog a treat if it continued to bark.
There will come a point when your dog is silent at the “Quiet” command, without the need for the whistle.
Positive reinforcement is a crucial part of whistle training!
Do not forget to give your dog a treat when they respond the way you want them to. The best results will come from consistent and reliable training. If you only do it once in a while, it will not be as effective in the long term.
If your dog barks at specific triggers, you can use the dog whistle to avert their attention from what they are barking at.
This is a manner of distraction. If your dog always barks at particular objects on a walk, you can give a soft whistle to signify that they should avert their attention.
While this dog whistle redirection method may work, it is likely that long-term whistle training will work much better. Using positive reinforcement will make the training much more effective.
Other Ways to Stop a Dog from Barking
If a dog whistle is not effective in curbing your dog’s barking (again, it won’t work on every dog), you still have other options.
You can use positive reinforcement without the whistle. By rewarding your dog every time they stop barking at your “Quiet” cue, you will likely get similar results as with the dog whistle. It will just take a bit longer.
Find and Eliminate the Trigger
If your dog is barking at something specific, identify what they are barking at and take away the trigger.
If you have an excessive barker on your hands, it could also be a sign of boredom. Make sure your dog is getting sufficient exercise and has enough mental stimulation during the day.
If your dog is a territorial barker, you can block their view of the window. If they can’t see cars going by, they are less likely to bark at the cars.
Do Not Shout
The most important part of training your dog not to bark is to not shout at them. If you respond by yelling at them to be quiet, your dog is likely going to continue barking. They aren’t doing so out of disobedience. Some dogs think you’re joining in on the “barking fun” when you shout at them.
Positive Reinforcement + Dog Whistle = Success
When paired with proper training, dog whistles can be useful in curbing your dog’s barking. However, it’s important to use positive reinforcement alongside it. This means rewarding your dog every time they do something correct or follow a command. Eventually, you should be able to just give a command and have your dog respond.
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