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Whats in a "Release" word?

Updated on July 16, 2014
Photo by Eve
Photo by Eve

About the Release word

While working with different types of animals from dogs, seals, meerkats, and sea turtles lots of tools we use for training are interchangeable. One of the common training commands is the release word.

A release word is used to let the animal know that you are done with the training or work session. Some times even just giving the animal a break while in a dog class. In between direction while you listen or instruct your pooch can relax for a few minutes. For seals I worked with, a wave of the hand and a verbal "all done" is used when we are out of fish so the animal knows that they are free to hang around but the session is over and no more fish will be fed out. When working with dogs common release words used are "ok", "all done", and "free". Once hearing that word the dogs are free to stop the current behavior, play, take a break, and even join you for doggie play. Working with therapy dogs this tool can be very useful letting the dog know that work time is over.


  1. Animal
  2. Treats/rewards
  3. Pouch
  4. Leash (dogs)
  5. Collar/harness

Follow these tips

Here we go!

1) Choose a release word. Make it a simple short word. Ex. Ok, done, finish, etc. It can be what ever word you want to use ,just make sure you are consistent.

2) Have the animal in front of you.

-For the exotic animals or wild animals living in human care what we do is have a training session. Once the session is over, give the release word and discontinue to give them the reward. After a moment you can get up and leave. They will start to associate the release word with the end of session. Yes, at first they may still "beg" for more, but at this time no more edible rewards should be given.

-With an animal that you are able to use physical contact after the release word is given, sit for a moment. At this time you can talk to the animal, scratch, stroke, etc. This way they can get rewarded for hanging around if they chose, but the session is over so they can go if they like. This is a great bonding session between trainer and animal.

For a dog it is easiest if you use a leash to help them learn this behavior

3) In your leash hand hold at least five pea size treats for the session and your free hand have the treat that you will be rewarding the dog with

4) Ask the dog to sit. Bridge. Then use your release word, taking a small step back. More than likely when the dog sees you move he will get up and move too. Once he pops up from the sit, bridge again and treat.

5) Repeat behavior during your normal training sessions. Keep in mind your sessions should be no longer than 10-15 minutes, a few times a day.

-A session should sound like this:

"Sky sit"-"good girl"-treat-"down"-"good girl"-treat-"ok"-"good girl" treat (take a break and repeat training)

6) As the sessions go on you can lengthen the time the animal is at a sit before releasing. Make sure not to rush too quickly, and if he does start having a little trouble make sure you give him a behavior he knows so he can get rewarded and refrain from being frustrated. Then take a step back on your progress and continue a little more slowly.

7) Start using the release word after all your training sessions. He will start associating your release with break time. You will notice that you no longer have to take the step back and as soon as you say the word he will stop doing the previous behavior

Do you use a Release word during your training or working?

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Helpful tips

-If the dog stays in the sit, gently tug the leash so he moves from his stationary position. Bridge and reward

-Make sure that when he comes over to you, you make a big deal about it. For some dogs the sillier the better

-Don't fret, the harder part of this behavior is you getting into the habit of using a release word :)

-I have heard of trainers not teaching the behavior stay. The theory is the dog should "stay" until the release word is given, so something else to think about.

-If you are working with a small dog sometimes it is more helpful to use a wood spoon with peanut butter as the reward. They can get a lick for each reward and dogs that love peanut butter enjoy this very much!

Thanks for reading and be sure to check back for my latest hubs!

© 2014 Evelia Veronica Rivera


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    • Ariel-Cal profile image

      Evelia Veronica Rivera 3 years ago from Bridgeport, CT

      Thank you so much Cheevers!

    • profile image

      Cheevers 3 years ago

      im impressed with your lessons

    • Ariel-Cal profile image

      Evelia Veronica Rivera 4 years ago from Bridgeport, CT

      Thanks Frank!

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton

      another very useful hub Ariel-Cal :)