The Basics – Release Command

Many clients ask why we don’t teach the dog to stay during obedience training. The simple answer is that when you give a command and your dog complies, he should remain in the commanded position until you tell him to do something else. If you don’t want him to do anything else, how can you tell your dog they can stop performing the task? This is where the release command is implemented.


What is a good release command?

This is a choice you must make to suit your dog. There are a few things to consider however.

  1.  You don’t want to use a word regularly used during conversation.Things like “OK” or “ALL DONE” may be used frequently in public settings. The last thing you need is for the cafe waiter to ask if you would like another coffee, you say “OK” or for the person taking your plates to ask if you are “all done” and your dog to jump up and decide it is play time. This can confuse the dog and leads your dog to be reprimanded for breaking, which of course would be unfair.
  2. You need to be able to say the word in an excited voice as it brings about the end of an exercise and the beginning of play. It should be fun and encouraging to your dog.
  3. One-syllable words with a long sounding vowel are best. Avoid things like “all done”, “no more” and “end of session” etc. Short and simple is the key. Something like, “FREE”, “PLAY”, “WEEEE”, “YAY”, “HOORAY” (yes, it has two syllables, but it is short) are good choices. You can use one of these, or you can choose your own.

How do we incorporate the release command into training?

The release command is added to the end of a training sequence. It goes a little something like this.

“Sit” > dog sits  > Mark (yes!) > “Free” > step backwards encouraging your dog to follow > reward.

The time that you keep your dog in the commanded position is up to you but when your dog is learning the release command it is a good idea to keep it short and sweet to ensure success. As your dog begins to learn that they need to wait for the command you can increase the time before releasing your dog.

It is also a good idea to work on distance as well as time. Put your dog in a sit, take a slow step back from the dog, pause, then move back to your dog and release. You can then increase distance as your dog becomes comfortable.

*Please note – when you are increasing the distance, shorten the time a little, do not increase distance and time together as this will likely result in a break from the commanded position which we don’t want.

If you would like to watch a few examples of using the release command, visit our Facebook page and look through our videos. Here are a couple for you to start.

Bath Time release command

Fetch release command

Tricks release command


Now that you have a basic understanding of the release command it is time to practice. If you get stuck, feel free to contact us.

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