Logan Whistle reviews and advice from handlers

 

Logan Whistles are now used extensively by some of the very best dog handlers in the UK and across the world and it was to a few of these that we turned for some insight into how these whistles can be used to best effect.  This is what they said.

JULIE HILL

Julie is a well known competitor and judge at sheepdog trials. Besides being 2014 Scottish National Champion she is renown for becoming the first and, currently only, woman to win the prestigious Supreme International Championship. She has also won the International Brace Championship. Over the years, she has developed The Natural Way for training sheepdogs set out in her book & DVD which you can find for sale on our web-site.  Julie tested six whistles from the Logan Whistles range out on the Scottish hills with her dogs, each of which has its own style of working. We were interested to know how she found working with them and any tips she could pass to someone trying to choose a whistle. 

I have been asked to give my input on the Logan whistles. They have a good choice of whistles for everyone's taste.

Logan A1 is light in the mouth and very easy to use.  An ideal whistle for those first learning to use a whistle.

Logan 304 - this stainless steel whistle gave me a great diversity of tone from flat to higher.

It is an ideal weight in the mouth, fits well and easy to use.

Logan Delta is made from a type of hard plastic (it’s a new modern polymer called Delrin which can be machined as opposed to the cheaper injection moulded plastics on the market) which enables easy grip with the teeth, while being light and comfy in the mouth.  This is a very good all round whistle that will suit many people.

Logan Supreme – solid brass on hole.  This is a good solid whistle. It has a very sharp sound with plenty of range in volume.

Logan Turbo – brass two hole. This would be slightly more difficult if it is the first whistle you've used, but definately does what it says once you learn the technique.

To view our complete range of Logan Sheepdog Whistles CLICK HERE.

Once my dogs are solid on voice commands I introduce them to whistle tones.  Working close at hand I feel it is important to use quiet tones and so the A1 and Delta are ideal to use.

A dog can hear the pitch and tones of a whistle much easier than the voice especially if there is any interference like wind. The voice is ideal close at hand but the energy required to communicate with your dog at a distance would require much more energy and lung capacity to reach the distance required, so I definitely favour the use of the whistle if you want to communicate in a quiet but effective manner.

The responses from dogs differs greatly depending on how sensitive to sound they are so the A1, Delta and Logan 304 are ideal for very responsive dogs, where the Supreme and the Turbo come in to there own with a less responsive dog.  Reaching a great distance in bad conditions will also become easier to communicate with your dog with these two whistles.

As you become more experienced in getting the best out of the whistle the more you can have a conversation with tones and levels.  When teaching your dog to respond correctly to the whistle it is best to keep tones simple to start with and gradually add on more complexity.  My dogs work on the method of soft and short for a small flank. Extend and draw out the whistle command to lengthen the movement of the flank.  I give a sharp tone for a steady command and a longer deeper tone for the stop command.  My dogs are also taught a walk up, an out command and a look back command.

Every type of dog will respond differently to how you use the whistle. For a dog I want to sharpen his movements I blow sharper tones to keep the dog alert.  At the opposite end of the scale of a dog who has a fiery disposition I blow very quiet calm tones.  If used correctly the whistle has so much scope for communicating with your dog.

It's amazing how responsive and receptive a dog can be to a whistle blown appropriately.  How you teach your dog to respond to the whistle, which is the same as teaching voice and body language at the early stages of training will form his response and behaviour.

Working two dogs as a team creates a greater need for use of a whistle for fluency and accuracy.  Each of my dogs has its own set of whistle commands and tones to create the desired response.

We all create slightly different tones and so I usually advise handlers to start working close at hand.  Giving the whistle command followed by the correct body language to create the movement needed.  You are basically teaching him your tones to respond too.  Just as you would have the differences in accent in voice, it takes time to adjust to the new sounds.

Working on the hills with such changeable weather it’s important that I can get enough range out of a whistle.  It needs to allow for calm tones to promote a quietness with the stock to the higher sharper range when a sheep is trying to escape when you need an instant response from your dog.

I often keep a metal and a plastic whistle with me to use as needed.  The plastic whistle works well for very wet weather where the metal whistle gives me sharper tones in certain windy conditions.  When choosing a whistle I would advise trying a few different types as what suits one doesn't suit another.  Like training dogs it takes time and patience to get the most out of the whistle.

SUSANNE LEJUEZ

Based in The Netherlands, Suzanne has become recognised as a highly successful dog trainer and trial competitor.  Most recently she was the best female handler, coming 9th, at the World Trial in 2014 and was 2014 Reserve National Champion with Eryri Jaff, in the double gather final. For 5 years she worked as a contract shepherd in Ireland and Scotland and gained a lot of experience in trialling and most importantly in every day work with sheep and dogs which she thoroughly enjoys sharing to help people gain more insight in their own handling and training technique.

When is the best time to train a dog on whistle commands?

I start my young dogs on whistles fairly early, once the basic manners are on them, and they are stopping and moving on, and in the direction I want on body language. I start with the Lie-down and the Walk-on to start with.

Once they start getting more solid on their flank commands I introduce those I would start on one side the first day, and see how easy or hard the dog finds it. And if that goes well, I’d introduce the other flank command shortly after that. This might be as quick as the next day.

Do dogs vary in their ability to work on whistles? 

I find the most important thing when starting a dog on whistles, is not the age or level the dog is at, but if the handler is capable to use the whistle consistently. If the handler can’t use a whistle consistently, getting the same tones out of it, this is going to confuse a dog.   When choosing your whistle commands, make it easy on both you and the dog, and make sure the tones differ enough so it doesn’t confuse the dog.

Does the style and nature of the dog affect the style of commands you use? And when you work two dogs together are they on different commands and how do you stop that being confusing for you and the dogs?

If the dog is fairly sharp or maybe even hot, I choose a set of commands that is slower and less sharp. In general I prefer the one of two sets, but I used to have three or four sets of whistles. This was handy when using two or more dogs at the same time. I teach them to ignore the whistles of the other dog at the start to just work one dog and leave the other one lying down, or even on a lead or tied at the fence. After I’ve done that a few times, I leave the one dog lying down while working the other, switching around between dogs. If the dogs do not fight each other for work, and are compatible to work together, after that it easy enough. It’s important that a sensitive dog doesn’t get depressed when working side by side with another dog, and that a strong or hot dog doesn’t get hyped up when asked to restrain himself while working alongside another dog. In work I prefer dogs to have different sets of whistle, but when breaking a dog, or dogs, you never know which ones are going to end up working well together, so you might end up with the most compatible two on the same set. But since moving to the Netherlands I don’t have the need for working dogs together too much anymore, and then I decided to simplify things, for I was struggling to remember what dog was on what set, if I had been on holidays for a couple of weeks ;-) so now I just use the two sets most of the time.

How many commands do you use with one dog?  

I suppose the most basic and essential commands are the standard commands that you would also use in your voice commands.

Lie-down,  Walk-on,  Come-bye,  Away,  and maybe the That’ll-do.

Although I didn’t teach any dog the That’ll Do on whistle until at a trial in Ireland that was a 1000 meter outrun on a slope, and I nearly lost my bitch at the let-out pen. After panicking, thinking I had to walk the whole course, I decided I needed a whistle for it, because the voice could just not carry that distance, thankfully she got to her sheep, but I got the whistle sorted shortly after that trial anyway.

Once you get better at whistling, and once a dog gets more advanced in his training, you start to get more deviations in the whistle, and you introduce the Look-Back. You get a steady, stand, short or long flanks, wide or tighter, speed up, maybe even a “horse them on” whistle when you need a dog to know that he has your blessing to maybe nip a nose, or just push on strong.

What do you need from a sheepdog whistle?

I started off like many others with a cheap plastic whistle to learn how to get the tones out of the whistle, I practiced for days and weeks on end. Once you get better at it, you start to look for a whistle that suits your demand. When the first A1 came out, and I bought it at a trial in Ireland at the time, it made my life a lot easier. It was so much easier to get consistent tones out of the A1 than the whistles I had used before. The Supreme was even better, giving more range, distance and clarity. These days I look for a whistle that is consistent and pure in its tones, both close by and farther off, and it needs to be able to travel a great distance without starting to distort. In Holland we trial a lot on big open and very flat fields, this seems to decrease the hearing ability, especially on very windy days. I have found the Logan 304 a really brilliant whistle for me. It is soft and clear close by, and can reach a great distance in bad weather, without distorting.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of buying a good whistle?

Try out a few, especially when you have the basic whistling skill. Look around what others use, and ask what made them choose that particular one. Some people love a whistle but the next person might find that whistle too sharp, not precise enough or difficult. And keep in mind that sometimes your whistling skills or demands change, leaving you wanting another or “better” whistle. 

JAMES P MCGEE

James McGee and his family live in Creggan, Ballybofey, County Donegal.  As a young teenager James was inspired by watching BBC’s "One Man and His Dog” and then the International Sheepdog Trial at Seaforde in 2002. Amazed by what he saw in the ability of the dogs and handlers, James thought "I can do this", bought himself a proper sheepdog whistle and as they say "the rest is history". James was World Champion in 2011 with Becca, was sixth overall at the World Trials in Tain in 2014 with his then 17 month old dog Glencregg Silver, the dog which then went on to help him secure the ISDS Supreme Championship title in 2014.

When is the best time to train a dog on whistle commands?

When I start off with young dogs. I introduce the Stop Whistle right away, along with the walk- on and Call- off Whistle. It is easy at this early stage when commanding the Dog to Stop, Walk-on or Call-off on voice, to just add the Whistle command at this time. Starting young dogs six months plus.

Do dogs vary in their ability to work on whistles?

All Dogs are like people. Every Dog is like a person, they are individual. Personally, temperament, moods, and attitude are all factors.  Because of all these factors each Dog has a very different capability for picking up the Whistles. I have had some Dogs that pick up commands really quickly. Maybe after four training sessions, they would be fairly competent with commands. I have also had other dogs and it can take weeks of training until they finally pick it up.

How many commands do you use with one dog?

Left  -  Right  -  Walk-on -  Stop  -  Call – off  -  Look Back  

I would deem these six basic commands to be the absolute minimum required for a good work / trial dog.  For me, I think the more simplistic you make the commands, both Whistle and Vocal the easier it is for dog to comprehend and understand. Also less likelihood of the Dog mixing up commands and making mistakes.

With the exception of the Call-Off and Look Back whistle, the other four commands can be broken down into three commands.  Slow, Medium and Fast.  This is done by the tone and volume of the Whistle.  This takes a little time and patience to get this fine tuning. And this is with a good Dog. 

What do you need from a sheepdog whistle?

Comfort in the mouth, Ease of use, reliability and performance. 

What whistle do you use and why?

I have always used the A1 aluminium 

What advice would you give to someone thinking of buying a good whistle?

Hand on Heart. I would have to say that Logan’s Whistles are as good as I have seen. Good Quality Whistle and reasonably priced.

“Does what it says on the Tin “   (Pardon the pun )

 

Sheep Dog Whistle FAQ - Advice to customers

We've summarized some the questions we've been asked by customers and the answers we've given – you may find they help answer some of the questions you have about our whistles and products. If they don't just email Joanne at enquiries@thebordercollie.co.uk

Which sheepdog whistle?

"I am new to this whistle idea. I have a small flock of sheep and a new collie pup. Obviously the way to go is with a whistle, but you have such a large range of them – are any of them easier for a beginner to start on?"

Joanne McHardy of Logan Whistles: Any one of our whistles is suitable for a beginner. It depends on the type of material you might prefer to use and whether you'd prefer a more solid whistle (such as the Logan 304 stainless steel or one of our brass whistles), or the lightweight A1 or A1 Black range. They are all used by the top handlers and by novices alike. I've taught a lot of people to blow our whistles and some start with the Turbo as it's a bit unusual, so don't feel that using what might be a more powerful whistle will make it harder to use. Just think about what weight of whistle and material you might prefer.

Can Logan Whistles be used for training working gundogs for field trials and normal field work - spaniels, labs?

Yes, any of our whistles can be used with any breed of dog and can produce a range of clear commands creating a ‘language’ for any activity. They were developed for field work with border collies or other herding dogs, working in all sorts of conditions and for close and distance work (low soft and sharp loud tones) - but the sound quality needed for this type of work makes them equally powerful for other dog training and work - including gundogs and for competition. 

On your Logan Turbo, What difference does having two holes make to the sound?

Our two hole design changes the timbre of the command tones (timbre being the quality of sound that makes voices or musical instruments sound different from each other even when they are singing or playing the same note/pitch at the same volume).  Dogs can seem to hear the commands better with the two hole design when there is a lot of background noise or in very foggy or windy weather, perhaps wind off the sea or on the hills. 

To view our complete range of Logan Sheepdog Whistles CLICK HERE.