Training your dog a release command will really sharpen your dog’s obedience.
Definition: A release command is the command you give your dog when you are finished with the current command.
Example: If you told the dog to sit you would then say “free” to release the dog from sit.
Benefit: The dog learns that they must remain doing their command, such as sit, until you say “free”.
If you don’t have a release command then the dog will typically decide when they are done. This doesn’t always coincide with when you want them to be done ie. A guest comes over and you tell your dog to sit. The dog sits for 5 seconds and then gets up before you want them to.
Silent Stay: By using a release command, the dog assumes they must stay until told otherwise. Some trainers don’t even train the Stay command because it is not necessary.
We still train the Stay command as we find it helps with training.
Why Use “Free” Instead of “Ok”?
Most people say “Ok” to release their dog. We used to use the Ok command as well. We don’t anymore because a person says it way too often in everyday conversation. Not many things in life are Free anymore so you don’t hear that word too often.
Alternatives: Some people like to use “release”, “break”, “all done” or you could choose another or make up a word. Just pick something you don’t say frequently.
It is nice when the dog assumes they were told to do something as opposed to thinking they were released before they were.
Example: Our dog Delta knows her “bed” command meaning she is supposed to go to her bed and stay there until we say “free”. Sometimes she will go to her bed and look as if she wants to be off her bed. My wife will look at me and say “did you tell her to go to her bed?” I will say no and then we say “Delta free” and she is excited and gets off her bed to come see you. It is funny to see the dog’s thought process: “Was I told to go to my bed this time, or did I go there on my own? Can’t remember. I will stay here until I am released”.
Training a Release Command
For things like sit, down, come, and stay we use food to begin training this. To release the dog you will say “free” and toss a piece of kibble on the ground away from them to which the dog will typically get up to go for it.
In the beginning the dog is just getting up because they see food hitting the ground.
You want to wean the dog off using food or seeing something go to the ground to think they are released. For this you will use Core Rule: A to B Rule where you will say “free” and motion like you are going to throw a piece of kibble on the ground away from the dog. The dog may get up to go see. You will then drop the kibble on the ground for the dog. You always say “free” first and begin using less and less of a hand gesture to release the dog.