If you have an English or Welsh springer spaniel that you want to train for use as a gundog, you will want to teach them whistle commands. Even if your springer is only going to be a pet, you may still wish to teach them to respond to the whistle. So what are springer spaniel whistle commands?
The 3 basic whistle commands used for springer spaniels are sitting at a distance (1 short, sharp whistle blast), coming to you (3 whistle blasts), and turning (2 whistle blasts and a pointing arm). Consistency in training and adequate reward is essential.
Although understanding the basics of whistle commands for your dog is easy, it takes quite a bit of patient training to get your spaniel to respond promptly and correctly to your commands. A key element in your training is consistency. Let’s look at whistle commands and how to train them.
What Are The Springer Spaniel Whistle Commands?
If you are training your springer spaniel as a pet, and will not be taking them hunting, then you could get away with any pattern of whistles for a specific command, as long as you keep it consistent. If you keep changing what the whistles mean, you will confuse your dog, and they will probably give up trying to please you.
However, it makes sense to use the standard whistle commands if you are taking your springer spaniel hunting. These are often combined with hand signals too.
In order of importance, these standard commands are stopping or sitting at a distance, calling the dog to you, and redirecting the dog in another direction.
The standard whistle blasts and hand signals, and verbal commands used for these desired actions are as follows:
|Action Desired||Whistle Command||Hand Signal (used with whistle command)||Verbal command|
|Sitting at a distance||1 short, sharp blast||Hand raised and open||“Sit”|
|Calling to you||3 blasts||Arms stretched to sides||“Come” or “Here”|
|Redirecting to another direction/Turning||2 blasts||Arm pointing to the new direction|
What Sort Of Whistle Should I Use For My Springer Spaniel?
If you hunt late in the season in northern climates, we recommend using a plastic whistle rather than a metal one, as you do not wish to leave the skin of your lips on frozen metal. Choose a whistle without a pea, as peas can freeze in cold conditions once coated in spit or swell in humid weather. Ideally, you should always hunt with a backup whistle.
As to whether you should use a 210.5 whistle for a spaniel instead of a 211.5 for Labradors and retrievers, there is no difference in the frequencies the various dog breeds hear. You should choose the whistle you prefer. It will work.
Grip the whistle between your teeth so you can issue verbal commands between whistles (while training).
Remember to time when you use the whistle in the field. A whistle cuts through a lot of noise that yelling commands won’t, but splashing water still masks the sound. Try blowing the whistle when your dog is jumping up out of the water so they will hear it.
How To Train Springer Spaniels To Obey Whistle Commands
Before you begin training springer spaniels to obey whistle commands, you should have already done obedience training with them and gotten them used to obey verbal commands. Doing so lays the foundation for training the whistle commands. Let’s see how you teach your springer spaniel to obey the commands.
Training The “Stop” Or “Sit” Whistle Command In Spaniels
This command, the most important of all the springer spaniel whistle commands, has 2 names because when you start training your dog, you should get them to sit when they hear it. Later you can progress to having them stop sharply without sitting.
You should begin training this command while your puppy is still young. Get your springer puppy used to responding to the command so that it is automatic rather than something they must think about.
Stopping during hunting is not a desirable action for springer spaniels, and they are likely to ignore you if you do not make them see the response as desirable.
A crucial part of making the stop command desirable for your dog is rewarding them for the action. While they are learning, be sure to provide treats and praise, as you would for any desired behavior. Do not ignore them doing the right thing! You don’t want your spaniel to give up trying to please you.
Put your dog on a leash, blow a single short, sharp whistle, and say, “Sit.” When your dog sits, praise them and (initially) give them a treat. Repeat this process until your springer spaniel comes to associate the single whistle with the desired action and sits upon hearing the whistle blast.
Don’t blow long blasts on the whistle, as this can result in sloppy, long stops.
Combine the whistle training with hand signals to train your dog to respond to the hand signals. Remember that dogs see sitting at a distance as different than sitting next to you, so you will have to train your springer spaniel to respond in both situations.
If your spaniel moves off the mark it should have stopped on, go to it and move it back to the spot it should be on. Be consistent in doing so.
Training The “Come” Whistle Command In Spaniels
To train your dog to come to you, put them on a long check cord, and get them to sit. Blow 3 blasts on the whistle, and pull them toward you on the check cord.
When they come to you, praise them and give them a treat. Later, just provide praise. Keep being consistent with the 3 whistle blasts meaning “Come,” and your dog will quickly learn to obey.
Training The “Redirect” Whistle Command In Spaniels
To train your springer to change direction, put them on a long check cord, and let them walk. Blow 2 blasts on the whistle, and use the check cord to redirect them with one arm while you indicate the desired direction with the other. Praise your springer for doing the right thing, and remember to be consistent.
The watchword for training a springer spaniel to obey whistle commands is to be consistent. Always use the same whistle command for the same desired action. Also, make sure to make the activity rewarding for your dog. Start training your springer early, and you will have a well-trained and responsive gundog.