Have you ever heard of a deer whistle before? If you don't live in deer country, you probably haven't. A deer whistle is a device you can put on your car that makes noise. The noise is supposed to discourage deer from running in front of your car.
This seems like a super useful tool, but whether they work or not is debated. However, if they did work, wouldn’t it be great if they worked for dogs too? It could prevent a lot of deaths and injuries to dogs if it did. But again, do they even work? It’s hard to say. What humans do know is dogs have very sensitive hearing.
Signs Your Dog Hears Something You Do Not
If your dog really doesn't like a noise they are hearing, they'll react negatively. A few signs you might notice include your dog raising their ears and becoming very alert. This means your dog is tuning in to the sound and trying to possibly figure out where/what it is.
Your dog might also start growling, whimpering, or whining. This lets you know your dog might be uncomfortable with the sound - and may even be in pain. Your dog also might take to pacing if they are stuck inside and they want to investigate the sound.
Some other things you might notice include your pup trying to hide or even shake. If your dog really, really doesn’t like a sound, they might try to run away from it as well. So, if they were afraid of a deer whistle, for example, you would want to make sure your dog couldn’t hurt themselves or run away whenever you drive near them.
History of Dogs and Deer Whistles
Maybe you live in a heavily wooded area, or you love hunting. Either way, you're probably likely to come across someone who swears by their deer whistle. Though the evidence that deer whistles actually do anything to deter deer is a bit hazy, we keep making them and buying them.
As far as your pooch and deer whistles, dogs have probably been around deer whistles as long as deer whistles have been on cars. There have been studies done that suggest that other animals might be able to hear deer whistles, but whether the whistles actually deter deer or other animals from coming near a car does not seem to be promising. (Anecdotally, the sound of a dog barking has actually been shown to prevent deer from coming near a road, but we haven't found any "barking" whistles yet).
There are plenty of forums online that you can look at that talk about whether a deer whistle bothers dogs or not. However, since we can’t ask a dog how they feel about it, we’re left to interpret how they feel about them by watching their behavior around the whistles and looking at it from a scientific perspective.
Science Behind Dogs and Deer Whistles
Scientifically speaking, dogs can hear between 67-45,000 Hz whereas humans can hear between 64-23,000 Hz. Deer can supposedly hear frequencies of at least 30,000 Hz. Deer’s ears are also designed to catch sound waves, and so are dogs’ ears. So, it’s not surprising that they can both hear extremely well.
Deer whistles make noise in a variety of ranges, so it’s important to get one that deer can hear in order for it to be effective. As far as if a dog can actually hear the whistles, they probably can. Most online forums where dog owners commented about deer whistles and dogs said that they really didn’t bother the dogs riding along in the car. This might have something to do with all of the other noises going on around them at the same time.
If your plan was to put a deer whistle on your car in hopes of deterring deer, as well as dogs and other animals, the effectiveness of these tools is still up for debate. There was a study done in Georgia where they tested how effective the whistles were on deer, and the results really weren’t promising.
In fact, according to deeranddeerhunting.com, “sounds of deer whistles were no more effective than no sound at all.” In some cases, the noise even attracted animals to the cars rather than deterring them.
Training Your Dog to Hear Deer Whistles
So, the bad news is, deer whistles probably won’t be effective on a dog, and you can’t really train your dog to hear anything. They either hear it, or they don’t. However, there are whistles that are effective when it comes to dog training.
Some sources point out that whistles can be very effective training tools because they make your voice and range louder. They also have the added advantage of being responded to more often. This is because a dog might respond to one person’s voice more than another person’s, but when it comes to a whistle, your pup won’t know who is blowing it and will respond whether it’s you or someone else. If this is something you are interested in, you might want to speak with a professional dog trainer.
So, can dogs hear deer whistles? Because there isn’t any research on dogs and deer whistles, it’s hard to say for sure. However, they can probably hear the whistles that fall within their hearing range - but we still can’t be 100% sure until more research is done.
By Katie Anderson
Published: 06/15/2018, edited: 04/06/2020