Training your gundog effectively involves making many decisions, one of which is whether to use a whistle or your voice. This topic was the focus of a recent episode of our podcast, “Found It, Fetched It,” featuring LWDG expert Claire Denyer. Below, we delve into key insights from our conversation, but be sure to listen to the full episode for an in-depth discussion!

Podcast Edition:

Whistle vs. Voice: The Basics

The Role of the Whistle

Many gundog trainers consider the whistle an essential tool, especially for handling dogs at a distance. The whistle is particularly useful for commands like stop or hunt, which need to be delivered clearly and precisely across long distances. The sharp, distinct sound of a whistle can cut through environmental noise, making it easier for the dog to hear and respond.

However, it’s important not to become overly reliant on the whistle. As Claire pointed out, “If you lose your whistle, your voice becomes crucial.” In situations where you might forget your whistle or it malfunctions, having trained your dog to respond to your voice ensures continuity in your communication and control.

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The Power of Your Voice

Your voice is a powerful and versatile tool in dog training. It conveys tone, emotion, and urgency, which can guide your dog effectively even without a whistle. Dogs are incredibly perceptive to body language and vocal cues, often relying more on these than the whistle itself. The nuances in your voice can communicate praise, correction, or urgency in ways that a whistle cannot.

Claire emphasised, “Your voice carries the nuances that the whistle lacks.” This means that while a whistle can signal specific commands, your voice can provide context and emotion, helping your dog understand not just what you want them to do, but also how you feel about their behaviour.

Practical Applications and Real-World Scenarios

In everyday situations, your voice and body language are often sufficient. For instance, on a typical walk, you might use your voice for commands and keep the whistle for specific training exercises or handling at a distance. Claire shared, “On a normal walk, I use my voice for commands and keep the whistle for distance work.”

This approach allows you to maintain clear and consistent communication with your dog without becoming dependent on the whistle. It also helps your dog become attuned to your voice and body language, which are essential aspects of effective training.

Challenges and Solutions

Relying Solely on a Whistle

If you rely solely on a whistle, you might find it impractical to use it around the house or in close proximity. Blowing a whistle indoors or in your backyard can be disruptive and unnecessary. Additionally, there might be situations where you forget your whistle or it malfunctions, leaving you without a means to communicate with your dog effectively.

Relying Solely on Your Voice

On the other hand, relying solely on your voice might not be effective in windy conditions or noisy environments where sound doesn’t carry well. In such cases, a whistle can cut through the noise and reach your dog more reliably.

The Balanced Approach

The solution lies in using both tools appropriately depending on the situation. Balance is key. Train your dog to respond to both voice and whistle commands, ensuring that you can maintain control and communication in various scenarios. Claire noted, “Use both tools appropriately depending on the situation. Balance is key.”

The Importance of Engagement and Relationship

The essence of training lies in the relationship you build with your dog. Your voice, body language, and engagement create a deeper bond. Whistles are tools, but your relationship with your dog is the foundation of effective training.

Claire stressed the importance of engagement, saying, “The real essence of training lies in the relationship you build with your dog.” Your dog looks to you for guidance, and the stronger your bond, the more responsive and attentive your dog will be.

Tips for Effective Training

  1. Avoid Over-Reliance on Tools: Your dog should respond to your relationship and commands, not just to tools like whistles or treats. The goal is to have your dog working for you because of the bond and trust you share, not just for the rewards or commands.
  2. Use Your Voice and Body Language: Dogs are highly attuned to these cues, which convey your emotions and intentions more richly than a whistle. Your body language and tone of voice can provide context and clarity that enhance your dog’s understanding and response.
  3. Build Engagement: Engage with your dog through clear communication, body language, and consistent commands. Building engagement means making sure your dog is focused on you and interested in what you’re asking them to do.
  4. Balance Rewards: Mix verbal praise, physical touch, and treats to keep your dog motivated and engaged. This approach ensures that your dog values different forms of rewards and remains enthusiastic about training.


Claire’s insights emphasise the importance of not just using the right tools, but also fostering a strong, trusting bond with your gundog.

For a deeper dive into this topic, including practical examples and personal anecdotes, I encourage you to listen to our full podcast episode. Your journey to becoming a more effective and empathetic dog trainer can start with this informative and engaging discussion.

Listen to the full episode on “Found It, Fetched It” and join our community conversation on Instagram and Facebook. Your feedback and experiences are invaluable to us! Together, we can help you and your dog achieve your training goals while building a lasting bond based on trust and mutual respect.

What’s Your Gundog Goddess Style?

Who’s ready for some extra fun? Discover your unique approach to training with our “Which Gundog Goddess Are You?” quiz. You don’t want to miss this one

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