When Sparky keeps you and your neighbors up all night with nonstop barking, consider using a high-pitched whistle as a training aid to teach him to keep quiet. Used alone, such devices aren't very useful for stopping incessant barking, but they may help if used in conjunction with positive training methods.
High-Frequency Whistles and Usage
While the average person can hear sounds up to about 23 kHz in frequency, our canine companions hear sounds up to 46 kHz, according to Louisiana State University research. High-frequency dog whistles have the ability to emit a sound between 23 and 46 kHz that you can't hear but your pooch can. Use these whistles to startle your pup during his barking spree and distract him from whatever is causing his barking or other unwanted behavior. You can adjust some dog whistles to different pitches, high or low. The sound of these whistles, when you blow on them, is unpleasant for your pooch; he should stop barking upon hearing the sound. Use dog whistles sparingly so your pup doesn't become accustomed to the sound and disregard it.
Is Aversion Effective?
Manual dog whistles are among a variety of devices that emit a high-frequency whistle to stop a pooch from barking; used alone, though, they aren't a very effective form of aversion training; they can increase the problem in some cases. For example, using such devices around dogs suffering from separation anxiety or who bark out of fear will only increase their level of psychological distress, according to the Larimer Humane Society. Positive reinforcement training methods are typically preferable over aversion training to deter a behavior.
High-pitched whistles can be included in your pup's training regimen, but not as the primary barking deterrent. Instead, incorporate them into his training as a way to distract him and stop his barking so you can teach him the "Quiet" command. For example, if Sparky starts barking, say "quiet" once and blow the whistle to stop him. Once he's quiet, give him a treat to reward his silence. When he starts to respond solely to the "Quiet" command, you won't have to use the whistle anymore to distract or silence him. Remember that high-pitched whistles are training aids, not complete solutions to your pup's barking behavior.
Automatic High-Pitched Whistles
In addition to manual high-pitched whistles, retail pet supply outlets sell automated devices that emit a high-pitched whistle to startle and stop a pup when he begins to bark. These types of battery-operated training aids come in several forms, either mounted on your pooch's collar or as free-standing devices you can place in your home or yard. Some are voice activated and whistle automatically when your pup barks, while others are manually activated by a remote control you can trigger to distract him from whatever stimulus might be provoking his chatter. Check the specifications for any automatic, high-frequency or "ultrasonic" device you plan to purchase; free-standing device sensors have a limited range, typically between 25 and 50 feet.
Redirecting Behavior Without Whistles
Give your pooch a way to channel the energy he uses barking into a more pleasurable activity for both you and him. Engage his attention with chew toys, games and plenty of exercise. Train him to be quiet on command by rewarding him with treats and praise during the times that he's silent and ignoring the times that he's not. Don't accidentally reinforce his barking by yelling at him while he's being loud; some dogs view negative attention as something desirable.
High-frequency or "silent" dog whistles will startle your pooch during his barking spree without disturbing your neighbors and significant other. Keep in mind, though, that other pets like cats, hamsters and ferrets can hear high-frequency sounds, too. If you have more than one pooch, one dog's barking that sets off the high-pitched whistle can make life unpleasant for his quiet housemate. Such devices might be useful only for a one-pet household.
- Cesar's Way: How to Prevent Dog Barking
- Louisiana State University: How Well Do Dogs and Other Animals Hear?
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Barking
- Larimer Humane Society: Help! My Dog Won't Stop Barking!
- The Green Head: PetSafe Ultrasonic Birdhouse Stops Barking Dogs
- The Humane Society of the United States: Dog Collars
Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.