Training the Whistle Recall

Coming when called is probably the most important behavior you can teach your dog. It's about security, freedom, and can even be life-saving!


Recalling a young puppy is often quite easy as they often lack the confidence to wander far away. It is important to take advantage of this period in building the recall command and associating it with very positive experiences.


You must have the ability to recall your dog, no matter what the situation or other temptations. The best way to achieve this is by ensuring that returning to you is a rewarding and highly pleasurable experience available to them.  Select very high value food rewards for this behaviour, something that your dog really loves - chicken, cheese or Joe's personal favourite - slices of hot dog sausage! 


Remember: never punish your dog for returning to you regardless of what they were doing before (or how angry it made you!).


A dog whistle is a great way to train recall.  If you spend time and effort conditioning the dog to react immediately, you will have a fast and reliable recall.  A whistle carries further than the human voice and is also constant and without emotion.


Here is a link to the type of whistle needed:


If you want a reliable whistle recall, be prepared to spend time making sure that each level is "hard-wired" into your dog's brain. Do not rush the process and make sure that you have 100% success before moving on to the next level.


Firstly, decide on how many blasts of the whistle you will use and then always use that signal. 


Have a look at the video below which demonstrates the initial stage of associating the whistle with the reward.

Follow this procedure for the first couple of weeks of training, don't be tempted to do too much to soon, you absolutely want to hardwire the sound of the whistle into your dogs brain.


Week three and beyond, practice in the house and garden, when your dog is reliably speeding to find you wherever you are in the house and garden you are ready to take the whistle out with you.


When blowing the whistle outside, remember that you want to hard-wire speed and an immediate response, don't use it if you think that the level of distraction / difficulty is too great at that time. When you use the whistle, always make sure that you use the highest value rewards.  Use the best food and games that are used only for whistle recall.


Use a training line (long lightweight non retractable line 20ft - 50ft) to make sure you have control when practicing longer distance recalls.

When your dog happily zooms back to you add in an automatic sit to park him when he gets to you.  Don't be afraid to really show how pleased you are.  Make a huge fuss and be really excited.  It doesn't matter if passers by think that you're mad - one day a good recall may save your dogs life.