Training With Dog Whistles

Discussion in 'General Dog Training' started by tx_cowgirl, Sep 20, 2011.

  1. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    So for those of you who saw my post about my new Weimaraner, Gypsy, you know I am wanting to train her to follow a blood trail for hunting purposes, and to find deer antler sheds(for management purposes; tells you the health of the deer on your property, the approximate population on your property, the size of the deer on your property, etc).
    This means that, eventually, she may be working at a pretty good distance from me. For this reason I'm thinking about getting a dog whistle so I can control her at longer distances.
    My questions are...
    Sheepdog whistle so I can teach more commands through the whistle?
    Gundog whistle?

    What commands might I want to have with the whistle?
    -Come, obviously
    -Freeze (?)
    -Stay--do I need to teach a stay command with the whistle?

    These are the ones that are coming to mind....gundog whistles are all long/short blasts, so I can't teach as many commands with the whistle. But do I really need that many? As far as I know, sheepdog whistles can be a little complicated to learn how to use. But I could teach many more commands--but again, how many do I really need?

    Which brings to mind another issue...
    The majority of the time, the shed hunting and the blood trailing will be on the same land, so I'm thinking I need to have two commands. Any ideas?
    "Track" for blood trailing and something else for sheds???? Or....?? I don't know, I'm just drawing a blank here.

    Anyone have any input in this area?
    Thanks in advance! :)

  2. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Also, what verbal cues could I use for finding sheds and for blood trailing(2 different cues)? I've been trying to figure something out, and this is what I've come up with:
    I don't know...I'm trying to think of something simple that makes sense and is easy to remember. Once she is trained, often she might just go with someone else in my family so I may or may not be there, so I want the cues to make sense and be easy to remember.

    Thinking about that now, maybe a gun dog whistle is the better way to go, so the whole family doesn't have to learn to use a sheepdog whistle....
  3. fly30 Experienced Member

    I don't know what orders you need for blood trailing but I can give you a few clues about the sheepdog whistle. I have an A1 and it's not that difficult to learn. Once you found out how to make a sound with it (there is a way to put your lips and tongue on it), you can whistle anything, any song, which means any sound. So there is no limit on the number of orders you may have. Find your sounds and there you go.
    First of all, your dog should master the order perfectly with the voice, then you can introduce the whistle which you should also master well.
    Just an idea but you may want to teach your dogs directions. We use them for herding.
    Regarding the type of whistle, I heard plastic ones where useless. I'm happy with my A1 but a Montana is ok as well. Have a single hole whistle, that's ample enough.

    Here is a link to dog whistles :
  4. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Thanks so much Fly! I was beginning to think I was on my own on this topic. ^^
    I'm not sure how or when I would use directions, because in with both blood trailing and shed hunting she should be using her nose to figure out where she should be going, and not relying on me. But this is a whole new type of training to me so I'm not sure. Can anybody think of any situations where I might need directions?
    And would it be easy for different people to duplicate a sound?
    And let's say for instance I'm teaching her to come to the I treat it like a whole new command--same technique to teach her to come to a word, whistle, step back and lure, reward? Or do I whistle, then verbal "Come!" and reward, and eventually the whistle becomes a precursor for the verbal cue and it develops the same meaning?

    This is just an entirely new concept for me. I feel like the kid watching a parent doing something interesting..."What does that do? How does that work? What did you just do? Are you done yet?" Lol. :LOL:
  5. fly30 Experienced Member

    The whistle is also a new concept to me. However, I taught her to come with a sound I invented. For the recall, the dog picks it up quickly. They tend to come back naturally when you whistle. I'm going to start directions and down with a whistle as Fly now knows them. Usually, I teach my dog voice AND body commands. Most of the time, she looks more than she listens so I'll use my body gestures to let her guess what my whisteling means.

    If your dog does not know gestures, then start using the word THEN whisle. He will associate quickly the order. Good luck and let me know how it goes, I'll let you know as well how we progress.
  6. fly30 Experienced Member

  7. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    I typically teach both verbal cues as well as hand signals, so Gypsy will learn this too but so far we haven't gone through much.
    Thanks so much for the advice and the video!! Now off to look for whistles and decide which to get...
  8. Bosun Well-Known Member

    I have a friend with a Drathaar that blood trails wounded animals. He tells me its important to have a ritual for the dog. He follows the ritual everytime. Leah (the dog) is placed in a down/stay. He goes and chats with the hunters, or does a quick scout. While Leah is in her postion, her harness (used only for tracking) is laid on the ground beside her. The way some dogs know a leash is for a walk, Leah knows her harness is for tracking. He returns to her, realease the "down" and asks for a stand. He harnesses her and leashes her. The harness comes up between her back legs and hooks to a leash from there (less catching on limbs and such). He brings her to the first spot of blood, focuses her on it and says "find it"

    He does this when he hunts stuff (and knows where is it, for practice) and practices with a variety of smells. Chicken soup, or supplies from the butcher.

    The dogs I had who tracked, did so off leash. It was just in them, not something I trained. I like my friends method. It's more controlled. Safer for the dog too. Here we track a lot of wounded bears, I don't want my dog to have to make decisions about controlling a wounded bear, and me be 200 yards behind.

    Shed hunting, is also something I'm interested in. Now, one of the big differences, for me is, that I would do shed hunting off leash. I also believe that there is two different types of scent dogs. Air and ground. Tracking wounded animals is ground work, shed hunting is air. There is no trail for the dog to follow. I have no idea how to train, other than find it games, but would start with a different collar. It makes the dog aware of a different thing going on.

    I use hand signals a lot. I don't have a very big voice and we are in the woods often. There's brooks and trees blowing that muffle my voice. I stand like Jesus on a cross for 'come'. He can see it from afar (not that he usually goes far) and responds to it nicely. I will use a whistle, on occasion as a "look at me" marker. The sharp noise makes him look. Then I use the hand signals. Arm out straight for each direction. At 9 months he's still getting rewarded like crazy and I believe I will continue to reward for recalls.

    I would think a strong recall and an attention getter would serve you well. While the dog is 'tracking' I'm not sure it needs your input for direction. If you knew where they were, you'd just go pick them up! lol...

    Here's a neat story for you. One day, my other half and I were out for a drive/picture taking excursion. We were watching two bucks in a field. The larger one, shook his head and both sheds popped off, I went and retrieved them... awesome moment to see. Neil takes incredible pictures, he got the before and the after but not the shed in the air!
  9. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    We are definitely working looots on recall. ^^
    Blood trailing will definitely be an on-leash activity, as I can't really use a whistle to get her to stop or come back as that would be noise that could scare the animal we are tracking, and if she were to be tracking a hog or something and found it only wounded, she could get very seriously injured. Shed hunting though, I would like to eventually be an off-leash activity, when she's advanced enough in her training for it.
    So for commands that need to be taught with the whistle...
    Look at me
    What else?

    I am going to buy a tracking harness for her, and a blaze orange safety vest so she can be seen easily by other hunters. I had been thinking the harness/vest would be her "cue" that we are going hunting, and that separate verbal cues would be her sign for what she is tracking (blood or sheds). But would this not be clear enough? Should I incorporate something else into the routine to differentiate the two types of tracking? Or get a different harness or collar or something?
    Drathaar---is that the same as the German Wirehaired/Shorthaired Pointers? I have never heard this term, but when I searched it on Google it came up with pictures of GWP/GSP dogs.

    Thank you for your response!! It has been very helpful.
  10. Bosun Well-Known Member

    The drathaar's look a lot like the dogs you looked at. You could easily mistake them.

    Hubby was hunting hogs in Maine this past spring, he was impressed with the tracking dogs the guides had. A hog would worry me much more than a bear!

    I, personally, would save the tracking cue for the harness only. I can't imagine anything else you would use that harness for, so the cue would stay "pure" for lack of a better word. I put a hunter orange on Bosun when we walk now, and have done so with other dogs in the past. So I would worry about the vest being confusing. That said, if the only time the vest would be used is for tracking, go for it!

    I think you have whistle commands down, the only other one I might be tempted to use would be something like "bring it" .

    Have tonnes of fun! Sounds like you're starting on the right foot. I will be looking forward to your posts on how you're making out/progress.It will be great for you to go first and point out all the pitfalls and shortcuts ;)

    When we got Bosun, I wanted a 365 companion and visual deterrent. I said it would be a bonus if he could track or find. He's growing at such a pace that I haven't trained much toward the tracking. I really don't want him getting hurt (joint wise) and next fall there will be a new batch of hunters needing help. This year, I go and track myself with/for them.
  11. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    The vest is definitely a must for safety purposes, in case another hunter were to see her and mistake her for another animal. (Which would be stupid, but...can't give people too much credit, lol.) The only time we would need to use it would be for tracking though.

    I'm a bit confused now. The tracking harness shouldn't be used for both blood trailing and sheds, with only the blood trailing cue used for the harness? I guess what I was trying to ask is if the harness was used for blood trailing and for finding sheds, would two separate cues be enough to differentiate it, or would be be confusing for her? Both are tracking, but tracking two different things...

    I'm really looking forward to all this. ^^ I still have to order her harness, once I get it I'll get started. Thanks again!
  12. Bosun Well-Known Member

    The particular harness I've seen hooks to a leash from between the back legs of your dog. So... having theat dangling (if not hooked to a leash) would be troublsome, I think. Where you are planning to do the sheds off leash, I would use a regular collar.

    Clear as mud?
  13. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Thanks for being so patient with me; I know I have a million questions. ^^ I don't know anyone with experience in this area and not many people here on DTA have experience with this either.

    I definitely want a leash that hooks on top, not underneath. The brush is incredibly thick where we hunt. I've been looking at the BlackDog Tracking Harness. It's not incredibly expensive and it looks like it's designed well, and one of the few I've found that I like.
  14. Bosun Well-Known Member

    Now, I've not personally used a harness (other than when one of my Bouv's used to pull me on a scooter.. that was fun!) however, the brush here is thick too. I believer the idea behind the underneath hook is so that it catches less. The dog clears a path with it's nose/body/feet and the leash is safe in the wake. Hooking on top, leaves it vulnerable to the brush and twigs and such.

    You could always make a temporary one out of scrap material and try it both ways and see. I just know that trying to walk a dog with a leash from the collar is a pain because of the hook ups in the branches... I think from under it would actually be less cumbersome.

    Please let me know which ever you try. I am really interested in your progress on this venture.
  15. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Hmm, good things to think about. I'll have to do some looking locally to see what I can find so I can try both.
    I will definitely post about our progress! I'm wanting to start with the shed hunting first, because it seems much easier than blood trailing and it will be better for me (I think) to learn about tracking with the shed hunting so I can correct my mistakes with the blood trailing. The problem is, sheds are hard to get your hands on! They're expensive if you're buying them, and even though I have a ton of hunting friends, not everyone has sheds they want to part with. Ugh. So I'm trying to collect some slowly, so I can get started teaching Gypsy to find sheds. It's the middle of hunting season here, so we can't go stomping around looking for sheds running all the wildlife off.
  16. Bosun Well-Known Member

    You sound like me... try the thing thats "for fun" then build on that.

    We are in hunting season now as well. Couple of places you may want to try for both blood and antlers. The butcher shop. Where ever the hunters take their animals to be butchered, they can give you blood (freezes well for when your ready to start laying down lines to follow) and some hunters disregard the hide/head/antlers attached. Another place to look, depending how how hardy your stomach is; check with your local DNR (natural resources/Lands and Forrest, not sure what you call it there) and ask about where they dispose of road kills. Here they have a dump pit and often I notcie antlers still attached. Good luck.

    Another thing about sheds; here we find them in December/January. What the shed hunters do (without dogs) is this... wait until the snow has a melt. So the layers would go something like this: dirt/dead fauna+small bushes/snow/snow/sheds/snow. When the snow melts the antler appear to sit on top of it all. Of course we need snowshoes to be in the woods at that time of year, so I'm not sure how well Bosun will be able to do this anyway... but... That's all I know about that process...
  17. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Thanks for all the tips! I have thought about going to the butcher for blood, but not antlers. I will have to check with some of them. Hadn't ever thought of the local road kill disposal. I'll have to get a contact list going for butchers and road kill disposal and make some calls! Thanks!
    Hunting season goes from October-January here, so maybe late January we can look. My original plan was for Gypsy to be far enough in her training that I could start letting her get her feet wet early next year to give her some experience shed hunting, but I had no idea sheds were going to be so hard to get. We rarely ever get snow here, if it does snow it's hardly any at all so usually finding sheds is just a matter of luck. All the more reason to have a shed dog! :D
    Bosun likes this.
  18. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    Dumb dog. I bought a dog whistle. He won't use it.

    mewzard and fly30 like this.
  19. Bosun Well-Known Member

    Morning!!! We were out and found a shed about two weeks ago... it was from last year, so not fresh. However, a great place to continue looking for this years's drops.

    We went on a wounded deer track. Complete darkness, new woods to Bosun, no leash. He did great! I more wanted him to be in on the process. Little booger, found more blood than we did! 3+ hours later and 1200 yards, the blood was few and far between. From height and blood patterns and the fact that Bos could find a single drop of blood, we believe the deer was shot in the brisket and lives.

    Now, about that whistle!!! lol. Build it like building his name. It's gotta mean something first! Like any new "word" Start from the basics! Introduce the behaviour, "name it later" with which ever whistle (long/short/2- short...)

    Good luck! Should be a blast...
  20. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    STILL unfortunately haven't started Gypsy's training. :mad:
    Hunting season has proven unsuccessful this year. Nothing in the freezer, which also means I have collected no blood. I keep trying to buy sheds on Ebay, but people buying them for crafts keep jacking up the bids waaay higher than I want to pay. $100+. No thanks.
    Which brings up another point...I hate auctions. Just let me buy the stupid thing and be done with it. Ugh. :cautious:
    I haven't had a chance to find out who to contact for roadkill and the like... I do have some other hunter friends that are supposed to be getting me some sheds. Deer season has two weeks left; we're going one more time. And we can shoot wild pigs all year round; they are heavily overpopulated. So, I still have lots of chances for blood but sheds....we'll just have to see.
    I did just order a book on shed dog training, perhaps reading it will kill time until I have sheds.


    Congrats on Bosun's work!! Sounds like you both had fun. :D
    Bosun likes this.

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