Always remember to release your dog!

by Emily Larlham

I see this happen so many times to so many dogs.  A person will ask a dog to sit, give the dog a treat, and then walk away or start chatting with someone.  Then the dog sits there looking as though he is thinking  “Now what am I supposed to do?”.  The dog sits for a while, and then gets up looking confused.

One of the most important keys to successful training is being consistent.  I believe if you teach your dog behaviors that have a duration like sit, down, and stand, you should always release the dog afterward.  In other words, give the dog a signal that he can get up after it is complete.  This is because it can be very confusing to a dog if SOMETIMES “Sit” means stay sitting until released and other times the handler wanders away and the dog can get up whenever he feels like it.

I personally don’t use the cue “Stay” for any maintained behaviors because I believe you can train a dog that “Sit” means stay sitting until a release cue is given.   You can release your dog from a maintained behavior by saying a cue to get up like “Free”, telling the dog that you are ready to move forward on a walk by saying a cue like “Let’s go”, or by telling the dog to do another behavior like “Down” or “Come”.   I do believe dogs can learn a complex cue like “Stay”, meaning continue doing the behavior you are doing, but it is a much more complex idea for a dog to learn than simply teaching a dog from the start that “Sit” means keep sitting until the release cue is given.

Here is a video tutorial on how to teach your dog release cues:

25 Dog and Puppy Training Tips:binderlayingopen11-247x300
For each month of the year, I will release 2 training tips that will be accessible for free at  If you simply cannot wait for the information to be published online, you can buy the collection of all 25 training tips in an ebook format here: 25 Dog and Puppy Training Tips

This is a list of all the tips included in the ebook, and that will be eventually available online:

  1. Teaching a dog previously kept outside to be calm inside the house
  2. The problem with ignoring unwanted behaviors
  3. Fading a lure
  4. Adding a verbal cue or changing a cue
  5. Dogs and babies
  6. Socializing tips- Our world can be a scary place!
  7. What to do if your puppy bites you OUTSIDE of a training session
  8. Changing your thinking from “I don’t like” to “I need to work on”
  9. What to use as reinforcement
  10. Treat deliveries
  11. Teaching your puppy appropriate greetings on leash
  12. Teaching “All done” for training sessions and dinnertime manners
  13. Variety is the spice of life… and training!
  14. Teaching your puppy to walk off leash
  15. Don’t let your dog free feed
  16. Don’t only work on one behavior at a time
  17. Separation training tips
  18. Monkey see, monkey do- Take advantage of social facilitation
  19. Always remember to release your dog!
  20. The importance of handling
  21. Chewing
  22. Teaching “Drop” and “Get it”
  23. What to do if your puppy sits and refuses to budge on a walk
  24. Generalizing
  25. Training your dog to do absolutely… NOTHING!

Happy Training!