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Are Dog Whistles Harmful to Dogs? Facts & FAQ

Written by: Jessica Kim

Last Updated on April 12, 2024 by Dogster Team

Are Dog Whistles Harmful to Dogs? Facts & FAQ

There are various ways to train dogs and helpful tools that make communication with dogs easier. One common training tool that people use is dog whistles. Some dog owners may be concerned that dog whistles are harmful to dogs because they emit a high-pitched frequency. However, dog whistles are safe training tools as long as you use them properly.

So, before you use a dog whistle, make sure you know the basics and the most effective way to use them. We’ll go over the essential information to help you to use dog whistles properly.

divider-pawAre Dog Whistles Harmful to Dogs?

Generally, dog whistles aren’t harmful to dogs. When you use them properly, they don’t hurt your dog’s ears or cause any pain. You can view them like regular whistles. When you blow a whistle, the loud sound doesn’t hurt your ears if you’re a safe distance away. However, if someone blows a whistle right next to your ear, it can be painful and damage the ear.

Dogs also won’t feel pain when they hear the dog whistle. However, it should never be blown right next to their ears or with too much force.

man training his pet with a dog whistle
Image Credit: Miriam Doerr Martin Frommherz, Shutterstock

How Do Dog Whistles Work?

Dog whistles emit high-pitch frequencies that aren’t detectable by human ears. As dogs have more sensitive and powerful hearing, they can hear a wider range of frequencies than humans. Other animals with strong hearing, like cats, can hear dog whistles.

The average adult can hear frequencies between 15-17 kilohertz (kHz). Dogs can hear up to 45 kHz, and cats can hear even higher pitches at 64 kHz. Dog whistles typically emit frequencies between 23-54 kHz. So, when you blow a dog whistle, you’ll usually just hear a hiss, while a dog will hear a high-pitched sound.

How Dog Whistles Are Used to Train Dogs

The most common ways people use dog whistles is to regain a dog’s attention or establish positive reinforcement. Similar to clicker training, dog whistle training often starts with attaching a reward to the sound of the whistle. Each time a dog does something correctly, the trainer will blow the whistle and follow it with a reward, like a treat or praise.

As the dog starts associating the whistle with a reward, the whistle becomes a positive reinforcement that helps dogs understand when they’re displaying the correct behavior. When a dog gets used to dog whistles, it may be able to learn commands and tricks more quickly.

Since dog whistles carry farther than other training tools, like clickers, they’re often used for active herding and hunting dogs. Once a dog is trained to be responsive to a dog whistle, trainers can move forward to more advanced training and start associating different whistle patterns with commands. For example, a trainer can blow a short sound when they want a dog to sit and a longer sound if they want a dog to return if they’re a long distance away.

german shepherd dog resting his head on his owner doing training
Image Credit: Natalliaskn, Shutterstock

divider-pawConclusion

Dog whistles can be a helpful and harmless tool used to train dogs. Many dogs will react to them when they are first blown, but they can become desensitized if a reward isn’t attached to the sound. So, if you’re interested in training a dog with a dog whistle, make sure to securely establish a positive meaning to the whistle. This will help your dog understand and have the incentive to pay attention whenever you blow the whistle.


Featured Image Credit: GUNDAM_Ai, Shutterstock

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