Here I am, putting Wawa Mobile’s Dog Whistle app to the test. I was tapped for the job because the boss knows I have three dogs.
According to Wawa, I can use Dog Whistle to train my dogs to do as I command and even condition them Pavlovian-like not to bark when someone comes to my front door. The app emits a high-pitched tone, just beyond the hearing of humans but within the hearing range of your average canine, which finds high-pitch tones alarming, if not painful.
My dogs, Ellie, Henry and Kona, are well behaved and don’t need to be trained to do much beyond getting me chips, salsa and beer during each quarter of Sunday football.
Dog Whistle has two basic settings: One is to emit a tone when I press a big fat orange button and when the dogs’ barking exceeds a pre-set loudness threshold. When I pressed the whistle button on Wawa, at its highest frequency (20,000 kMhz) not one of my three dogs bothered to pick up its head from the kitchen floor and look in my direction.
I decide to wave my iPhone in Ellie’s face, while pressing the whistle button, and she tries to lick my iPhone to see what it tastes like. Henry comes running over because he thinks I’m about to pat Ellie and he wants in on the hand outs. Meanwhile, Kona ignores all of us. She’ll get up when it’s dinner time.
Because none of the dogs will bark unless someone comes to the door (and I hope when a burglar breaks in when no one is home), I decide to bark at the iPhone to see how well it reacts to noise. The meter registers even when the threshold is set at its highest 90db — about the same loudness as a hair dryer. I could peg the electronic needle with a moderately soft speaking voice. I found that if I whistled softly, the app would whistle back. Meanwhile the three dogs yawned and looked at each other with that “Isn’t that human a complete dweeb?” look and wagged their tails in agreement.
I have no way to measure the frequency range of the iPhone’s speaker, but Apple says it’s 20Hz to 20,000Hz. Nevermind, the number by itself means little, but the phone’s speaker is far lower than that because I could hear the tone at what the app says was a 20,000 kHz frequency. Because of my age and sex (women hear better than men), I might be able to hear up to 14,000 kHz on a good day. Meanwhile, dogs will pay attention to tones somewhere between 16,000kHz to 22,000kHz.
In short, Dog Whistle doesn’t do anything near what its developer claims. In fact, it’s probably the most useless app I’ve come across in the App Store, ahead of some apps I positively loathe. Your dogs will only laugh at you for being so stupid to have wasted money if you buy this app.