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Whistles beyond the basics

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Assuming that the commands below are the "basic" whistles you need for a stockdog (along with the gradient degrees for each--faster, slower, louder, softer--for fine tuned communication), are there any you need/use beyond these (like a specific "good dog" whistle or a grip whistle--both of which I've heard mentioned before but never knowingly heard)?

 

Both flanks, short and long

Stop

Steady

Look back

That'll do

ETA: walk up (thanks Gloria, that one slipped my mind)

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Assuming that the commands below are the "basic" whistles you need for a stockdog (along with the gradient degrees for each--faster, slower, louder, softer--for fine tuned communication), are there any you need/use beyond these (like a specific "good dog" whistle or a grip whistle--both of which I've heard mentioned before but never knowingly heard)?

 

Both flanks, short and long

Stop

Steady

Look back

That'll do

 

Don't for get the Walk Up, which can be made faster or slower.

 

I'm still working on whistle proficiency, too. My latest discovery is that my brass one makes me salivate! Pretty bad when my "go bye" sounds like, "too-phfffffffffffffft!" :rolleyes: So, I'm sticking to my horn one, for now.

 

I am unaware of any "good dog" whistle: I think it's unnecessary. But whistles besides those you've mentioned may include a whistle to pull a dog in closer, if the dog runs too wide, and one to get out, if a dog needs to cast out further. Any grip command would be used judiciously, since gripping will get one DQd on the trial field.

 

Can't think of much else ... anybody?

Cheers ~

 

Gloria

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Any grip command would be used judiciously, since gripping will get one DQd on the trial field.

:rolleyes: Not on cattle :D

A

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I don't have a grip whistle - but I do have a "do what you need to do to move them" whistle that I rarely ever use (but Nick seems to understand, nonetheless).

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Dear Wouldbe Sheepdoggers,

 

If you are just starting with whistles do get Kent Kuykendahl's CD -available at Border Collies.com. If you develop your own whistles, sans "whistle thinking", you'll have a penny whistle when you need a flute.

 

Donald McCaig

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Thanks everyone. I'm pretty interested in what folks consider the "whistle dictionary"

 

Laura, was your "do what you need to" whistle something standard you learned from someone or something you added to your repertoire? Seems like a useful whistle to have.

 

Dear Wouldbe Sheepdoggers,

 

If you are just starting with whistles do get Kent Kuykendahl's CD -available at Border Collies.com. If you develop your own whistles, sans "whistle thinking", you'll have a penny whistle when you need a flute.

 

Donald McCaig

 

 

Can you elaborate on "whistle thinking?" (I agree, the Kuykendahl CD is great)

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Laura, was your "do what you need to" whistle something standard you learned from someone or something you added to your repertoire? Seems like a useful whistle to have.

 

I feel reasonably sure it was something I picked up from either Robin or Julie P. It is very useful - and not to be confused with an actual grip command/whistle. Nick comes up with some very interesting solutions. :rolleyes:

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I have a "hurry up, step on it, really push to get them going" whistle that is useful. It's a variation of my walk-up whistle sort of, actually I guess it's another whistle plus the walk up strung together. This particular dog will grip on command but I've never put a whistle to it and if she had it on whistle at some point I don't know what the whistle it.

 

ETA: It's a whistle I learned from someone with way more experience than I've got.

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I have a "hurry up, step on it, really push to get them going" whistle that is useful. It's a variation of my walk-up whistle sort of, actually I guess it's another whistle plus the walk up strung together. This particular dog will grip on command but I've never put a whistle to it and if she had it on whistle at some point I don't know what the whistle it.

Same here--my hurry up walk up kind of means do what you've got to do to get them moving. With one of my dogs, using this whistle does carry the risk of a grip, so I have to use it judiciously at trials. I also have a grip command, but it's voice only.

 

J.

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need a don't grip whistle for Ricky on cattle (cue the jaws theme)...

 

It's just two notes, right? Maybe that could be the grip whistle. Prolly too low-pitched to really work, but... :rolleyes:

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Dear Wouldbe Sheepdoggers,

Ms. Pippinsperson asked,

 

Can you elaborate on "whistle thinking?" (I agree, the Kuykendahl CD is great)

 

 

I'm neither the handler Kent is nor the "Whistle thinker". Let me "think" aloud.

 

For better or worse my whistles are what they are. I think in whistles. They have gradually evolved from naive whistles and may - it's hard to see (hear?) this happen be still evolving.

 

I have one set of whistles for all my dogs. Despite the helpful tapes, my attempts to duplicate a new dog's previous whistles will never sound exactly the same to him and on those few occasions when I'm working two or three dogs at once, they (mostly) understand who I'm talking to though the whistles for each are the same.

 

Whistles must be absolutely distinct. It is better to have a high one note "away to me" and a low one note "come by" than lovely three tone whistles whose "hurry up come by" is identical to "walk up". Every now and again, when I'm driving w/o dogs I blow fifty of each of my whistles just to be sure my whistles aren't "wandering".

 

Clarity is more important than volume. John Templeton's Roy whistles were so quiet and precise, judge's came out of the car to stand behind John lest he redirect Roy - inaudibly to anyone in the car - on the outrun.

 

If you want your dog to "Go wide and slow" with a particular whistle, you must practice that whistle and "Go wide and slow". While it is true that shrill excites, dull slows, an intricate whistle which in the first syllable tells the dog which flank and in subsequent syllables how fast and how long he should continue taking that whistle, must be practiced - for your sake as well as the dog's. Unpracticed, unused whistles are unavailable when you need them.

 

For trial purposes, the lookback whistle is unneccesary and may confuse the dog. More commonly in the UK than here, between the Nationals and the International handlers practice the lookback and too often on the Big Day, the dog will take a flank whistle AS THE LOOKBACK and happily lookback when that's the last thing the handler wants. The verbal "lookback" cannot be confused for anything else.

 

For farm/ranch work, the lookback whistle should be HONK - completely unlike your other whistles.

 

I like a simple one note "That'll do" because I can breath it so softly in town the person walking next to me doesn't know I'm whistling and the dogs stay close.

 

Use Kent to design your whistles. Nobody's better or more thoughtful.

 

Donald McCaig

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Donald wrote "For trial purposes, the lookback whistle is unneccesary and may confuse the dog. More commonly in the UK than here, between the Nationals and the International handlers practice the lookback and too often on the Big Day, the dog will take a flank whistle AS THE LOOKBACK and happily lookback when that's the last thing the handler wants. The verbal "lookback" cannot be confused for anything else."

 

I'd have to disagree with this. I went for years without a turnback whistle but once i added it, it became a very useful tool in the toolbox. I use it a lot and my dogs know it, take it more quickly than a voice command, turn back sharper and i just generally find they like it better than the voice command And it sure travels further than my voice does on the big course.

 

The confusion Donald describes above is real and it's why i teach and practice turnbacks when we're not doing many trials. I've changed a couple of things i do in teaching it, which has helped with that anticipatory turnback on a fetch as well. But i don't find it's the actual whistle command that causes it any more than the voice command. JMHO.

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I have a root-dee-toot, root-dee-toot hurry up/go fast/hustle'em whistle that is a three note variation on the two-note root-dee walk-up whistle.

 

This is a different whistle from walk-up faster with the walk-up peep-peeped more quickly.

 

Penny

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Dear Whistlers,

 

Tips for beginners: When you change your whistle the dog may not understand your whistles. If you have dental work done, your dog may not understand your whistles. Ask a friend to video you running your dog and listen to your whistles. You may be surprised at how variable they are and how much more difficult you're making the dog's job.

 

Donald McCaig

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I thought I had nice whistles until I spent a week at a Kent clinic. We spent the whole week refining my sounds and the use of them. I have a single note flank for small movements, a two note flank for bigger, and three notes to 'circle the sheep - go big' flank. Each direction has its own variations, and they do NOT start with similar sounds. I have a slow walk up, and a medium, and a hurry,hurry one. I have a stop (with a tail) and a slow down (without the tail,) and use verbal 'take time' at the start of the drive to remind them about pace. I have a peep that means there. I have a recall / that will do. I throw walk ups in with flanks if my dog wants to go wide and I want it to stay tight. I can skip a there by putting in a walk up during a slow flank, and all my dogs turn on the sheep at that point.

 

I do have a look back that is totally different than any other whistle. I practice in the car still, like Donald, to make sure I still have pure sounds. Mostly, I use variations of the whole flank whistle to mean what I need, and the dogs interpret it quite well. I try and let the sheep teach the dog what I need, and pair it with a whistle that soon they associate with the task. Good luck Robin. You are only limited by your imagination. Just take care to not confuse your dog with too many variations too soon.

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This is great.

 

So, for those who think in whistles, does this mean that you mentally hear the commands as words OR that the whistles themselves just have the command meaning (to use language as an analogy--when you're learning a language, at first you "translate" the words of the new language into the language you know. As you get to know the new language better, you stop this translation and just understand--is whistling like that for you?).

 

Are there many clinics where the clinician focuses on the whistles? This seems like it would be very useful.

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Yup--just like learning a language, after a while, there is no more "translation."

A

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Next time you go to a trial, watch some runs with an eye (and ear!) to just understanding the whistle language. You'll get into the mode of "translating" it pretty quickly and get to hear alot of variations which might give you some ideas. I always get a kick doing this kind of translation when talking with spectators/non dog friends at trials. It's really cool when you think about it as another language.

 

Do choose your whistles carefully. When you think you have a set you like, run them by an experienced open handler & ask them if they hear any possible problems with similar or confusing tones. Easier to fix that kind of stuff sooner rather than later.

 

Lori Cunningham

Milton, PA

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Do choose your whistles carefully. When you think you have a set you like, run them by an experienced open handler & ask them if they hear any possible problems with similar or confusing tones. Easier to fix that kind of stuff sooner rather than later.

 

Lori Cunningham

Milton, PA

 

This is great advice. I mistakenly taught an away whistle and stop whistle that had the same first note and then went for a lesson with an experienced open handler and he picked up on it right away. It was easy at that point to change one of the whistles since neither the dogs nor I were solid on them yet.

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As you get to know the new language better, you stop this translation and just understand--is whistling like that for you?).

 

Yes, it's just like that.

 

Are there many clinics where the clinician focuses on the whistles? This seems like it would be very useful.

 

Kent is the one who really did this in his clinics. So much so that he often seemed to be doing the reverse of what you'd expect -- not just teaching the dog what specific whistles meant, but working on understanding what whistles the dog derived meanings from -- how the dog understood them -- and adjusting the whistles to that. Almost like a conversation or negotiation between him and the dog to develop their common whistle language. Very cool to observe, almost eerie.

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My problem is I use my fingers and at a trial I get nervous and then I sound kinda funny.

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