6. Goto Bed & Settle Down

Exercise 6.1 The Release Cue

Choosing a Release Cue


A Release Cue is something that often gets overlooked but it is very important since it marks the end of a behaviour (e.g. sit, down, stay, heel).  It gives the dog a clear cue to know that he can break position.  


Using a release cue will give you much more reliable behaviours.  Your dog won’t just randomly get out of his sit and walk around and this makes training much easier.


Choosing the Right Release Cue

Give a little thought to the release cue word you pick.  There are a couple of things to consider…


If you have more than one dog you might want to use your release cue prefixed by the dog’s name so you can release one dog but hold the other in position.


If you think you might go on to do more advanced training once you’ve established your basic obedience foundation then do think about having two flavours of release cue:


  • A short cue word like ‘Okay’, ‘Free’, ‘Done’ as a positional release which means to the dog you can break position but you are still working with me
  • An additional ‘all done’, ‘off you go’, ‘go play’ type of cue meaning you are free to go wherever you want, training is done for now.


I use ‘Okay’ as a positional release but this isn’t really the best word to be honest  as it can be hard for your dog to differentiate because this is a word we often use in our daily lives.


Instead, you can use something you normally don’t say much like “free” or “done” or “break” to avoid confusion. 


Stay with the same cue once you have chosen it. Everyone in your family has to use the same cue for the release command (or any other command, for that matter).


The Importance of the Release Cue

From now on try and make every behaviour you ask for have a beginning and an end.  E.g. Use your verbal cue “sit” to get your dog to sit and before he decides to get up and wander off make it your job to let him know he can move now by using your release cue.


Many dog trainers never even teach the command “stay” because every command should have a built-in stay which is only to be broken by the release cue, e.g. Sit means sit and down means down until the release cue is given.


I still train “stay” although I have always trained with a release command. Stay will work as an amplifier for the current command that you are giving your dog for situations where you really don’t want him/her to get up.


Try to use your release cue for every occasion – ask you dog to sit and look at you before:

• He is allowed to greet people or dogs

• He can run off-lead

• He jumps out of the car

• He starts to eat

• He goes through the door 


Incorporate this into your day-to-day routine and this will give you much more control and your dog will be much more predictable!