Release means “exercise over.” This is used when we want to release our dog from a structured exercise.
You need to have a specific word for Release so your dog knows the exercise is over. This should be a word not commonly used in your every day vocabulary. Many people use “Ok,” or “Good Dog!” But the problem with that, is that every time you say those words, you then release your dog.
For example, if Ok is your release word:
You’re at the park, and our dog is on a polite automatic sit next to you while you talk to a friend you’ve run across. And you say, “Ok, that would be great! We’ll come over tonight!” and she says, “That will be fun, just bring an appetizer.” To which you reply, “Ok! Great! Ok, well we’ll see you then!” before you look at your dog and say, “Ok, let’s go.” You dog will have released 4 times, and you didn’t get to finish that conversation because you can’t figure out why he’s bounding around, smelling things, pulling on the leash, etc, instead of remaining in his automatic sit.
Using Good Dog can be even worse because you should be praising them every time they do something right. If every time you praise them, you also release them, they’re going to be really confused and you’re going to be really frustrated!
So pick a word or phrase you don’t use often. I have three dogs, with three different release words: Release, Free Dog, and That’ll do! I know people who have used Monster, Spaghetti, Parole, etc.
The release is FUN! It means they get to be a dog again for a second! Do they get to pull you around on the leash if your on a walk? No. But do they get a little freedom from the heal position and rapt attention? Yes.
When releasing them from an exercise, it should be exciting, and they should be happy about it! You need to be excited! Wahoo! Exercise over! You did GREAT! PLAAAAY!
You will use your release word to release your dog from a Stay. So, you have worked your Stay, you have returned to the Heal Position by your dog, and you’re ready to end the exercise. You don’t want to release your dog immediately upon returning, because then they learn that your returning to them is permission to release. Wait a second, three seconds, five seconds, two seconds — mix it up each time so they never know what to anticipate. When you’re ready, “RELEASE!” your dog! Remember, on Stays, you will NEVER release them until you have completely returned to the Heal Position! (see Wait. vs. Stay entry)