Why Dog Whistles Have Different Frequencies

You can adjust the frequency on a dog whistle. This is important because your dog may only hear and respond to a certain frequency.

Even a hard-of-hearing dog may respond to a whistle if you get the frequency right. The sound will travel a long way, so you can command your dog from a good distance.

Dog whistles come in different frequencies, and it’s often confusing knowing what to get and why. I’ll help you through the confusion and explain why whistles have different frequencies and why some dogs respond to them, and some don’t.

The majority of dog whistles are in the frequency range of 23 kilohertz (23,000Hz) to 54 kilohertz (54,000 Hz). The silent whistle emits a sound only dogs and cats hear because it’s in the ultrasonic range. This is out of range of human hearing.

A major benefit of a silent whistle is it doesn’t annoy or aggravate anybody. Be wary though. Your dog can hear a whistle very clearly, and misuse could damage their ears and hearing.


High Frequency, loud Sounds Aggravate Dogs

Dogs can become irritated at the sound of the upper frequencies at high volume. Humans won’t hear the sound. That’s why they are used in training dogs. No one will get aggravated at the noise because no one can hear it.

However, we need to be responsible and always be mindful of the power of a silent whistle for both frequency and volume. This is why some people use high frequency whistles to deter dogs and distract them from misbehavior momentarily. Other people use ultrasonic bark stoppers on their own dogs or those of their neighbors.


You Can Change the Frequency of Most Dog Whistles

Most silent whistles are adjustable because of the different hearing capability of dogs. Higher frequencies are heard by smaller dogs and not necessarily large dogs. You will need to adjust the frequency to suit your particular dog.

To find the right frequency you can use one of the following two tests.

  1. The wake up test: Start when your dog is asleep on the low frequency. Blow gently and see if they wake up. Incrementally adjust the frequency until you find the one that wakes them up.
  2. The awake test: Blow gently and adjust the frequency on your whistle until you get a definite turn in your direction with ears perked up.

Once you have your dog whistle’s frequency tuned in, they will be able to hear that at very long distances.


Dog Whistles are Used for Various Commands and Tasks

Combined with clickers and treats, dog whistles are very effective. The frequency normally grabs your dog’s attention to get them to concentrate on a specific task. They are an effective communication tool if you learn how to use a silent whistle correctly.

Hunting dogs can hear higher frequencies than many other animals, so using a silent whistle to train and command them in the field is very useful and effective.


Dog Whistles Can be Used to Control Barking

Some people use whistles to control barking, especially nuisance dogs. The high frequency sound disrupts their habit momentarily. The idea behind this is when the dog barks, you give the whistle a blow.

This may make the dog bark more initially, but over time they will associate the annoying noise of the whistle with their barking and decrease or stop altogether.

One major problem with using a high frequency whistle in this way is there will be many other dogs in the area who hear it, and it may make them bark as well. You will cause more problems than you’ll solve.


Hearing Ability Can Vary Between Dogs

Just like humans, dogs have different hearing abilities. This can come down to age, breed, or condition of the ears. If you are going to embark on training your dog with a whistle, you need to find the frequency they can hear and respond to.

Some whistles have the ability to adjust the frequency for this purpose. You will find that blowing a silent whistle gets no response from certain dogs because they don’t hear it. Having a whistle you can adjust stops you from having to buy different whistles until you find one that works.

Some breeds just hear better than others, and it pays to know this before you start training with a whistle, or using a whistle for any reason with your dog.

The dogs with the best hearing are:

  • Labrador Retriever: These dogs are bred for retrieving downed birds for hunters. They can detect the smallest sound in the bushes and hear many other prey before they take flight.
  • German Shepherd: Very erect, pointed ears and the ability to detect sound from a long way off. Their hearing ability is one of the many reasons they are used for security and law enforcement all around the world.
  • Poodle: This very popular breed of dog is able to hear extremely well and disregard any noise it thinks irrelevant. It will learn all of the voices in the family and watch over them.
  • Cocker Spaniel: These wonderful companions were once a hunting dog. They had the ability to detect the quietest sound from their environment.
  • Lhasa Apso:This beautiful looking breed originally came from Tibet where it could hear avalanches beginning and the early rumbles of earthquakes. It will be the first member of the family to hear someone coming up the stairs or a car on the drive.
  • Boston Terrier: This breed will hear the smallest of sounds in a noisy environment and hone in on it.
  • Chihuahua: This little dog hears everything going on in the house, even when asleep.
  • Miniature Pinscher: Very acute hearing and is often the first responder in the house to every noise.
  • Schnauzer: Another smaller breed with acute hearing to alert its family of approaching people.
  • French Bulldog: This little powerhouse will alert you to sounds long before you could ever hear them.

These are all very popular breeds, so it pays to know the power of your dog’s hearing ability before you embark on using a whistle. The frequency and power you use may be way too much for some dogs, and others may not hear a thing.

Some people may expect exotic dogs to have the best hearing, but all the ones on this list are popular family breeds, common all around the world. As these dogs get older, their hearing may vary.


Hard of Hearing Dogs May Still be Able to Hear a Whistle

The beauty of various frequencies of a dog whistle is that a hard of hearing dog may be able to hear certain frequencies. Adjust the frequency using one of the tests above and see if your dog responds. This will make being out of the property way less stressful.

You will have the confidence your dog will hear and respond to your whistle and command. Train your hard of hearing dog well before using the whistle outside of the security of your yard.

You will need to test the distance your dog can hear the whistle also. The last thing you want is for your dog to be out of range of the whistle.

Reward your hard of hearing dog well when they respond to the whistle because you just don’t know when it will get them out of trouble and back to you.


Research and Get The Best Quality Whistle That You Can

If you decide to buy a silent whistle, make sure you do your research. There’s a lot of value reading about other dog owners experiences with certain brands and designs. Consider these points when purchasing a whistle:

  • Buy a whistle that is solid and won’t break when you drop it.
  • A quality whistle shouldn’t change frequency when you blow it. It should only change when you physically change it yourself.
  • The whistle should emit a sound that travels well.
  • Buy a common brand that you can replace if you lose or break it. Your dog may get confused if the tone or frequency changes with a new whistle. Or, you could buy a few of the same to ensure a consistent supply.
  • Get a bright color so you can see it in dim light or if you drop it in long grass.
  • Get a whistle with a lanyard.
  • It would also be preferable to be washable. You wouldn’t want to use a whistle too many times without washing it. If you drop it,you’ll need to give it a good clean.

Dog whistles are a very easy and practical method of training your dog. They vary in frequency to suit all dogs and may even assist with training a hard-of-hearing dog. They are unobtrusive to people around you and don’t take too long for you to master.

They are cheap,readily available, and you can teach yourself how to use one or seek the help of a professional trainer.


Writer: Craig Taylor

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