Jan. 22nd – The Importance of a Release Word

Written by Stephanie Roberts
January 22, 2024

In our training program, the word “yes” is our release word. A “release” word tells our dog that they have successfully completed the skill and that they are free. For example, when I cue my dog to “sit,” they should “sit” until I release them. If I tell my dog to “down” they should “down” until I release them. The release word tells my dog that they no longer have to “sit” or “down” or “wait,” etc. 

Everyone has seen a person tell their dog to “sit.” The dog “sits” and then after a predetermined time set by the dog, gets up, walks away or lays down. A release word sets your dog up for success because it clearly communicates when they are done. 

One of the reasons that I do not allow corrections to be used in my Level 1 Class is because most people haven’t taken the time to tell their dogs when they don’t have to offer the behavior anymore. So, before you correct your dog for “breaking” their “sit” or “down,” etc., ask yourself, does your dog understand that there is a word that will release them from position or does it seem to him or her that their release is arbitrary.  If you’re not sure if your dogs understand that they’re waiting to be released check out this video on YouTube and watch Gator react differently to his Duration Marker versus his Terminal Marker. When my dogs hear their release word they will move towards me with exuberance. They know they’ve been released. 

About the Author

Stephanie Roberts

CTDI, AACE, CPDT-KA, CPDT-KSA, IAABC-ADT, Certified Canine Fitness and Nutrition Coach. Stephanie has over 16 years of Dog Training. She is certified through both the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers as well as the International Association of Animal Behaviorists as an Accredited Dog Trainer. She is also a certified Trick Instructor through the Do More With Your Dog Program and is working towards certification as a Canine Fitness Instructor and Dog Parkour Instructor. She has studied positive reinforcement techniques as well as, Behavioral Adjustment Techniques.