What is a release command? It’s a command you give your dog when you want him to be done with whatever you’re having him do. Is he holding a stay for you and its okay for him to move around now? You give a command. It’s usually “okay,” but do you realize how often you say okay? We say it all the time in daily conversation, which can be confusing for a dog.
My release command is Break for all things, except food. Break has become a very exciting word, and she already slurps down her food fast enough, I don’t need her to be more excited about it. So I made a new command for food, Take It.
Sometimes I’ll set food down to test her. I’ll say words like “Banana,” that start with a B, or “Train” that start with a T, to throw her off, and to make her use her brain and earn her food. Well a random word I used in this test was “Raffle Ticket” and she dove into her food! “No!” I exclaimed in surprise. She’d gotten really good at this, why would she think that that was a release? “Raffle Ticket,” I try again. She goes for it again!
That’s when I realize, this was my fault, not hers. Ticket sounds just like Take It! So she thought I was giving her the command to eat.
This is why common words like “okay” are so bad. Let’s picture this scenario. You’re on the couch, eating some pizza, talking on the phone with a friend. They ask you how you’re doing, you say “okay,” and suddenly your dog grabs a slice of pizza straight off of your plate as you yell in surprise! What was he thinking? Where did that come from? Well, he was begging nicely, and you gave him his release command, so he took that pizza!
I see this a lot, but in different scenarios, and half the time you don’t even realize what the problem was. It was a fluke, you think, he just suddenly thought the pizza was his, when really, you were basically shoving it into his mouth!
When choosing a release command, make sure it’s not something you would not use very often in normal conversation. You, your dog, and your pizza, will appreciate it in the long run.