Teach Your Dog to Stay (Until You Release Him)

Release Cues: The What, Why and How

In episode three of Training Bites, Hannah from Free Spirit Dogs teaches us how to train a release cue.

To hear the full interview on iTunes CLICK HERE To listen on Spotify CLICK HERE.

What is a release cue?

  • A word used consistently to tell the dog that their job staying in a stationary position (sit/stay, down/stay, stand/stay) is over
  • Tells them they can move after they have been staying
  • Common words include “Okay”, “Break”, and “Free”
  • Make sure to be consistent and that everyone in the family understands the word


Why should you use a release cue?

  • Clarity and consistency for the dog
  • Puts the responsibility on the dog to stay (empowers the dog with trust and training) – no micromanaging!
  • Enables you practical uses of your stationary behaviour (you can use your sit/stay to keep your dog in a position while you do something else once you have trained this)


How to train it:

You will need treats, your marker word (“Yes”) or a clicker.

*A marker word is always followed by a treat in training. Use this word to mark behaviours as they happen. For example, when you say “Sit”, as the bum hits the ground you say “Yes”

  1.   Have treats in your hand
  2.   Say “SIT” – only once! And wait.
  3.   As the bum hit the ground, say “YES”
  4.   Reward the dog – sometimes 1 treat, sometimes 2, sometimes more… switch it up to keep the dog from anticipating
  5.   Say “Okay” to release from the sit
  6.   When the dog gets up, say “Yes”
  7.   Reward with one treat
  8.   Repeat up to three times in a training session to start, but not more than that. We want to keep the dog wanting more at the end of the session so the next time you go to train they will be super eager!


Gradually, with each training session you can extend the amount of time your dog remains in the stationary position and the distance you get from them (how many steps you take).

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