Why Your Child Can Hear a Dog Whistle

The reason a child can hear a dog whistle while most adults can’t is that small children tend to have superior hearing when compared to that of adults.

They can hear sound frequencies as high as 20,000 Hz, which is the approximate frequency of many dog whistles.

You probably know that most humans aren’t capable of hearing a dog whistle. This is why many people consider them acceptable. When you blow these whistles to get your dog’s attention, you won’t be disturbing your neighbors.

However, the truth is that there are some humans who are capable of hearing certain dog whistles. Children can fall into this category.


Children Have Better Hearing Than Adults

A lot of the time, small children will have better hearing than adults. Their ears are capable of detecting a wider range of frequencies.

The frequency of sound vibrations per second determines the pitch of the sound. Pitch is measured in the unit of Hertz, or Hz, which is a term for cycles per second.

The lower the pitch, the smaller the number of vibrations per second. The higher the pitch, the higher the number of vibrations or cycles, as is the case with a dog whistle.

Small children can hear sounds at very low and very high frequencies that adult ears usually can’t detect. They can hear sounds with frequencies as low as 20 Hz, such as the sound of a very large pipe organ. They can also hear very high-frequency sounds, such as dog whistles that operate at about 20,000 Hz.

Generally, as hearing declines with age, people will lose the ability to hear high-pitched noises, such as dog whistles, first. In fact, there are high frequency sounds that teenagers can hear and adults can’t.


The Science of Sound

Sound is composed of pressure waves. These waves alternate between compressing and stretching the air through which they are traveling. They do this at a certain rate, which we have already described as the frequency.

The way your brain perceives the pitch of the sound relies on how many compressions within the sound wave hit your eardrum every second. Even though children can hear high-frequency sounds that adults cannot, they still don’t have the same sensitivity to these sounds that dogs do. Dogs can detect high-frequency sounds that even children cannot.


Dogs Can Hear High Frequency Noises Too

Children are not the only ones who have better hearing of high-frequency sounds than adults. Dog whistles are effective specifically because your dog’s ears will pick up higher frequencies than your own.

Dog whistles are actually designed so that humans cannot hear them, but dogs can. This is because of the specific construction of the whistle, as well as your dog’s hearing capabilities.

People can generally detect sounds that are up to around 23,000 Hz at most. This is why children may be able to detect a dog whistle in some cases. However, dogs can hear sounds with frequencies up to 45,000 Hz. The pitch of a dog whistle is very high, which is why a child can hear it, but the majority of humans can’t.


The Special Design of a Dog Whistle

Dog whistles are designed so that humans aren’t able to hear them. This is likely because if you could hear them, they would be very annoying to you and other people in the area.

A dog whistle is also known as a Galton’s whistle, or a silent whistle (even though it is not actually silent, as your dog can hear it loud and clear!). The sounds that it creates are within the ultrasonic range, meaning that the pitch is so high that humans aren’t capable of hearing it.

The construction of the typical whistle is somewhat simple. When you blow into it, the air  escapes through a small opening. The noise is created by the movements of the air as it  goes through the tube.

The shorter the tube, the higher the pitch of the sound will be. This is why dog whistles are typically very short.


Dog Whistles in the Training Process

Whistles are a popular training tool because they are fairly effective with dogs. The whistle will sound the same no matter who is using it. Because consistency is very important in dog training, this makes them a powerful tool.

The whistle will make the exactly the same noise every time, unlike spoken commands. This is why training your dog to make a certain response to the sound of the whistle will not come with a margin of error that is similar to that of a spoken command.

Very often, people use a dog whistle in conjunction with some other tactic, such as a clicker or treats. These tactics are often used together to communicate to a dog that a task has been completed correctly.

Typically, the sound of the whistle will get the dog’s attention, but it will not cause an excessive reaction like some people may fear, as it is what they have seen in cartoons or other media.

It can take time to successfully train your dog using a whistle, but if you are able to accomplish this, a whistle can be one of the most successful means that you can use to communicate with your dog when you want him or her to perform a certain task.

There are also other ways in which a dog whistle can be useful. If you enter your dog into a canine sporting event or competition, you will often see that dog whistles are used to communicate with the dogs in the competition. They tell them when to stop and when to go, as well as communicating other instructions to the dogs. These whistles are also used with hunting dogs, in order to make them follow commands effectively.


Be Mindful of Your Dog

Just because you can’t hear the sound of a dog whistle doesn’t mean that you can blow it as loud as you want at any time or place. The sound of the dog whistle can actually end up being uncomfortable and even painful for your dog, whether or not you can hear it.

If your dog is right next to you and you blow the whistle too hard, it can actually hurt him or her. You should watch how your dog reacts to the whistle and test it out by blowing it at certain intensities at different distances, so that you know how loud to blow it in order for your dog to hear it without being hurt.

If you blow the whistle too loudly, it can end up being counterproductive. It can cause your dog pain and be ineffective in training him or her. The loud whistle sound may also gain unwanted attention from other dogs in the area.

However, this is not to say that a whistle is necessarily dangerous for your dog. You just need to think of the whistle as you would think of any other whistle. When you blow a normal whistle around another person, they will likely hear it. However, you will want to be mindful not to blow it too loudly or too close to them. You can apply that same principle with dog whistles.

If you have any doubts, it is a good idea to learn how to use a dog whistle properly from a professional trainer. The trainer can give you valuable advice on how to use it safely and how to use it in a way that will be most effective in training your dog.

It’s also good to keep in mind that a dog whistle isn’t necessarily going to be effective for any one particular dog. Every dog is different. Some will respond very well to training tactics that employ a whistle, but some simply won’t.

If your dog doesn’t respond to your use of the whistle, you can try another training method that will work better.

So What Should We Know About Dog Whistles?

It is very important to understand a little bit about sound and frequencies before you use a dog whistle. It helps to keep in mind that children are more capable of hearing these noises than adults are.

This is because it helps you keep in mind that just because you aren’t able to hear a noise doesn’t mean you aren’t producing one that could potentially be very loud for someone else, such as your dog.

When you use a dog whistle, you could be utilizing a very effective training tool for your dog. However, you also need to keep in mind that it is important to make sure that your dog is not being harmed during training sessions. For that matter, you should make sure that the whistle isn’t hurting the ears of your children either.

This is why it’s a good idea to test the whistle out quietly first, so that you can make sure that its sounds aren’t harming anyone.


Writer: Nilani Thiyagarajah

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