Can Dog Whistles Be Heard Through Walls? (do they work)

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You might have a problem with your neighbor’s dog and wonder if getting a dog whistle can stop the barking.

The issue is that high frequencies do not permeate walls easily. Most ultrasonic devices on the market use tiny Piezo transducers that range 50 feet in the open air but do nothing if the dog is on the other side of a wall. In general, ultrasound cannot pass through solid surfaces.

While dogs have an acute sense of hearing, even they struggle to pick up frequencies muffled by thick walls, making whistles less effective if the dog isn’t within direct range.

dog whistles through walls and barking dog_

Do Dog Whistles Actually Work?

The small silent whistles you probably mean by “dog whistles” usually don’t work for repelling the dog or stopping bad behavior if the dog is untrained. They come in various frequencies, and because they are intended for training rather than dog repelling, the frequencies may not work.

On the other hand, it’s an excellent way to converse with your dog from afar. They are usually used for recall, halt, and hunt instructions. Make sure you buy the ones you can hear, not the ones so high in pitch that only a dog can hear them. I use an Acme 210.5 for spaniels.

The success of dog whistles depends largely on the consistency of training and the individual dog’s temperament. Just like humans, dogs react differently to stimuli.

The whistle has the advantage of being a distinct cue that cuts through any background noise. The whistle cannot be confused with anything else from the dog’s perspective. It’s not your voice but rather a distinct sound, so it may be good when training a dog for a recall.

Remember, for a dog, the whistle becomes an extension of your commands, making the clarity of the sound critical. If used inconsistently, it might lead to confusion and mixed responses

Also, the whistle is a little louder than we can yell, which is helpful if you’re on a breezy beach or in a large field. However, dog whistles are not optimal because they tend to be aversive.

Can You Use a Dog Whistle to Stop Barking?

The fundamental issue is that dog whistles are designed to attract the dog’s attention and not to quit barking. A whistle may cause the dog to stop barking for a moment out of surprise, but I have never seen a dog discouraged from barking in the backyard by a dog whistle. 

In fact, a dog whistle actually worsens the situation. You may be fortunate enough to have your neighbor’s dog cease barking, but this is not a usual reaction.

In answer to the whistle, a dog will do whatever he has been trained to do. You could, for example, educate a dog to come to you when you whistle, lie down when you whistle, or anything. To the dog, it has no intrinsic “stop barking” meaning. If it’s your own dog that’s barking, here’s what you can do.

Reinforcing behavior using a whistle requires patience and repetition. It’s not an overnight solution but can be an effective training tool when used correctly.

Some dogs may find it irritating or weird to hear. In some circumstances, they may dislike the sounds. However, if it’s a new, unfamiliar sound and the dog isn’t sure what to make of it, he may bark even louder just because it’s out of the ordinary.

To manage and stop a dog’s barking, follow our guide here.

How Far Can a Dog Whistle Be Heard?

Depending on the type of whistle, your dog can hear the whistle’s tone from up to 400 yards away. Distance may vary based on the type of whistle, the direction you blow into, and if there are any obstacles along the way.

Any obstructions between you and the dog will cause the whistle not to be heard by the dog on the other side.

Can Humans Hear Dog Whistles?

Dog whistles are so high-pitched that only dogs can hear them. Most dog whistles have a frequency range of 23 to 54 kHz, which is over the range of human hearing, while some are tunable down into the audible range. 

In general, dog whistles operate beyond most people’s hearing range, although there are always exceptions because some people have more acute hearing than others. 

It’s fascinating to note that certain whistles are deliberately designed to be audible to both humans and dogs. This dual-audibility ensures that trainers can gauge the whistle’s intensity and adjust accordingly.

man with earphones in the ear listening to music on IEM

Children and young adults may still be able to hear them. A dog whistle is simply a low hissing sound to human ears. Remember that even if you cannot perceive the sound, the sound pressure can cause ear damage.

It’s known as hypersensitive hearing. When you’re younger, you’re more likely to be able to hear them because the range decreases with age. Curiously, some adults who’ve been exposed to specific sound patterns or musical training might retain a heightened sensitivity to these frequencies, but it’s rare.

Do Dog Whistles Scare Dogs?

Dogs can easily hear whistles. While many of them are louder than your voice, they may not scare most untrained dogs. Some dog whistles are effective at scaring dogs (and cats), whereas others are not. 

There are particular dog-repellant whistles or gadgets with a painful frequency for dogs and cats to hear. A whistle may deter a dog from attacking, but most are ineffective at stopping an attack once it begins. The dog will simply ignore it. 

And remember that if you use such a device, you are endangering every dog and cat in the vicinity. When misused, they can induce hearing loss, which renders them ineffective. In addition, dogs may begin to dislike you personally if they witness you using such a repellent because they learn that you cause them pain.


Can rats hear dog whistles?

The idea behind ultrasonic repellents is to provide a sound that is irritating to rodents but at a frequency that is not audible to humans. Even if a sound is produced that mice can hear but humans cannot, there is very little evidence that these devices repel rats.

Do dog whistles work on cats?

According to one study, ultrasonic deterrents are a cost-effective and compassionate way to decrease unwanted cat intrusions. Ultrasonic deterrents do not prevent all incursions but lessen the frequency and duration.

If you’re concerned that a dog whistle would upset your cats, keep in mind that if your cats are inside and the dogs are outside, and you only use the whistle at a good intensity, they should be fine.

Should you use dog silencers?

While talking to your barking neighbor’s dog is the best option, you might assume a dog silencer will work. The issue is that these machines are incapable of controlling dogs. It’s the same as standing outside when a dog barks and yelling at them. It most likely does not cause harm, but it is also ineffectual.

  • Alex

    Alex, a passionate animal lover, has experience in training and understanding animal behavior. As a proud pet parent to two dogs and three cats, he founded to share insights from animal experts and expand his knowledge of the animal kingdom.