Thompson Working Dogs: Marching to the Tone of a Different Whistle
My name is Colton Thompson. I own and operate Thompson Working Dogs here in the states. From the infancy of my time as a handler and gundog trainer, I have had an ACME whistle. The UK methods of training resonated with me early on. The common sense and straight forward approach just made sense to me. Most importantly the dogs. As I poured my time into researching the methodology, I started gathering every piece of training equipment the winners were using. I noticed one commonality. An ACME whistle. “If it is good enough for them...” was my mentality. An ACME 211.5 was bought and it was history ever since.
Photo Credit: Element Six Media
Fast forward to today, I fancy the 211.5 whistle, along with the 212 Pro Trialler. I use the 211.5 for up-close training exercises. With its mellow tone and ability to produce sound at a low volume, it is a staple in my puppy training and started gundog work. As I work to longer distances, I switch to the 212 to maintain meaningfulness in my commands. The 212 is a great whistle for field trials and hunt tests here in the states. It carries well over distances. It slashes through dense cover and splashing water.
There is a small group of us in America that use AMCE whistles in field trials and hunt tests. The majority usually prefer very loud, deafening, megaphone style whistles. I have been approached and told that a dog cannot hear my style of whistle at great distances. I usually smile and carry on. I don’t normally vocalise my disagreement. After all, it is hard to reason with some who cannot hear what you are saying (light humor). As handlers, we underestimate a dog’s ability too often. I train my dogs to respond to the lowest volume of whistle tone. I do this because as distance increases the dog tends to become looser. I increase the volume as the distance increases. Training this way maintains the meaningfulness of my whistle commands from near to far. We set ourselves up for success when we train this way.
Thompson Working Dogs uses ACME whistles for their unfailing reliability, steady tone, and refined taste. I enjoy the subtle tone the whistles pronounce. On the hunt, the sound is not over-powering to the other sportsmen and their pursuits. In juxtaposition, it is a resilient sound that carries well through the timber. It rolls delicately over terraced terrain. Much like a well-crafted over/under shotgun, an ACME whistle is a compliment to any hunt.
Photo Credit: Austin Boyd
The whistle is the translator between our language as man and their language as canine. It is a common ground. It does not over inflect. It pronounces the word the same way, every time. It is my belief that it is the most consistent and effective way to communicate with gundogs afield. If I had to pick the most essential of training tools, the whistle would be at the top of my list. Most preferential, an ACME whistle.