4 min read


Can Dogs Hear Whistles?



4 min read


Can Dogs Hear Whistles?


Have you ever purchased a dog whistle in the hopes of training your pup with it? Have you ever found yourself frustrated because you could not hear the noise it was making? Did you find yourself wondering if the whistle was working at all? 

The truth is that your dog can hear the whistle, but the curious thing is how their ears are able to pick up the sound of it while our human ears are unable to. Beyond that, because the sound is so high pitched, does it hurt their ears when they hear it? 


Signs Your Dog Hears the Whistle

When you bring a dog whistle into your home, it is usually because you intend to use it to train your dog for certain things. When you are using it, you will be able to tell if your dog is reacting to it by looking out for a few different signs. 

One of the top signs to keep an eye open for is if they start tilting their head. When they tilt their head, that is usually a good indicator that they are interested in either something they are seeing or in this case, hearing. They have heard the whistle and this is them acknowledging that they can hear it. 

To add on to this sign, they will usually raise their ears, which seems pretty obvious considering they are trying to hear the noise much more clearly. Your dog will become more alert when they hear this whistle. Humans are unable to hear the dog whistle, except for the soft blowing noise when you use it. So, we must rely on our other senses so that we are able to notice when our dogs are reacting to it. Dogs are able to hear normal whistles, just like us and will react similarly.

Body Language

Some signs that your dog can hear the whistle include:

  • Alert
  • Head Tilting
  • Raise Ears
  • Stiff Tail

Other Signs

Other signs to watch for are:

  • Stopping What They Are Doing
  • Looking At You For Guidance
  • Exhibiting A Trained Behavior

The History Between Whistles and Canines


In 1876, the dog whistle was first created. However, when it first came into existence it was not known as just a dog whistle. Its first name was the "Galton Whistle." This came from a gentleman by the name of Francis Galton. He was attempting to understand and study higher frequencies of sound. 

He created the whistle which is still used today. When he first created it, he wanted to test it on various animals to be able to record how different species would react to different frequencies. As many reports indicate, he would take the whistle to the zoo and stick it into the different exhibits to see how the animals would react. When it came to dogs though, he would simply walk down the street and blow it every so often to watch how different dogs reacted. 

From his notes, he was able to see that smaller dogs reacted more to the higher frequencies than the larger dogs did. Since 1876, the whistle has gone through many design changes in order to better study the higher frequencies of sound. Studies are continued to be made, but this is where the dog whistle originated and in today's world, the "Galton Whistle," is just known as the dog whistle.

The Science of Dogs and Whistles


Humans and dogs are alike in a lot of ways, which may be surprising to some. They have the ability to see, hear, touch, taste and smell things much like we do. Some of these senses may be less useful to them than they are useful for us, but vice-versa, some of their senses may be better than ours. 

When it comes to hearing things, dogs easily have us beat. The frequency of sound is known as Hz. A human can hear a frequency range of 20 to 20,000 Hz while dogs are able to hear from 40 to 60,000 Hz! This is scientific proof that dogs have much better listening abilities than we ever will.

Training Your Dog With a Whistle


Dog whistles have been used to train our canine friends for many years now. It has become an integral part of many trainers' lessons. With any type of training though, there is always a good and a bad way to go about the process. When it comes to using a dog whistle to train your pup, you must be careful with it because some dogs are known to react adversely to the whistle if it becomes overused or is not used enough. The whistle must be used responsibly and never just to entertain yourself by making your dog freak out. 

Say that you are interested in getting your pup to come inside whenever the whistle is blown. This is actually a super-simple first lesson to teach them because if you are using the whistle for the first time, they will hear it and more often than not, they are going to want to find the source of the noise. 

Once they trace it back to you, you will want to give your four-legged pal a nice petting and a good treat. After some repetition, they will quickly realize that the whistle means it is time to go inside. You should usually only have to blow the whistle once to get them to listen to your command. 

Another way to train your pup is to take them into an empty room that has no desirable distractions for your furry friend. Bring some treats with you and the whistle and get ready to hang out for a while. What you can do is train your dog to follow different commands with the whistle. It is the same concept as training them to come indoors, but this time you can have them come to you and then you can use hand signals to have them sit, stay or even roll over. The whistle can be a powerful training tool, as long as you use it correctly. 

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Safely Using a Dog Whistle:

  1. Do not overuse the whistle, otherwise, the dog may react adversely to it and may act out whenever it is used.
  2. Be sure that only those responsible are allowed to use the whistle. If someone uses it just to watch the dog react, the dog can become confused and unlearn commands.

Written by a Keeshond lover Molly Martin

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 03/27/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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