Using release commands properly - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-22-2017, 03:24 AM Thread Starter
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Using release commands properly

I am still struggling with the proper implementation of release commands in training. I use verbal markers such as Yes, Good, Nope, and No. Yes is the release and reward marker. Good is the non-release marker as in keep doing what you're doing and rewards are variable. Sometimes will throw in a Good Boy and just use it as praise. Nope is a neutral marker (technically neg punishment marker) as in you didn't do it right, offer me a different behavior. No is my verbal correction marker.

That said, I use break as my release command. The issue I am grappling with is how strict, does my adherence to the break command (non-reward) have to be. For example, in practicing his stays, should I release him from every stay with BREAK? If he is done with his stay and I want him to come to me, should I use the release command BREAK before saying COME? It would seem more efficient to just say COME or whatever other commands I wanted him to perform after the stay. So basically, every command after stay would override the stay command. Or is there a good reason to always use BREAK to release the stay command before giving him another command?

The way I have been using Break also is usually used n training when I want him to break from one command and jump into the next command with a high state of arousal and speed. But I see this becoming a problem when I want to use BREAK as a release but for him to be simply "at ease" and not in a high state of arousal. Can dogs differentiate the context of the BREAK release? Obviously, I wouldn't want my dog to have the heightened stay of arousal of breaking a stay then releasing himself into a high state of arousal in a place like a coffee shop or store. Should I have another separate release for him to be released from his command, and relax but be potentially ready for another command?
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-22-2017, 04:03 AM
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We just follow on STAY with whatever command we want him to do next... so if I want him to come to me then its COME, or to move from a down stay to a sit, then I say SIT or if we are moving again I say LETS GO. If we are finished with that section of work and there is no other command coming next I say FREE so that he know he is no longer in a STAY and free to do what he wants until I give him my next command. FREE is usually following by a bit of playing tug to release any energy and a LEAVE IT to take the tug away and followed by HEEL to then go into our next sequence of training.
I also use FREE at the end of a HEEL so that he knows he no longer has to do a focused heel, he is free to sniff and wander for a minute. I have never used FREE in a coffee shop... I can see that having a disastrous effect, lol. He is always in a down or a sit in a coffee shop, but never a STAY.
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-22-2017, 05:43 AM Thread Starter
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KaiserAus,

I was thinking about what command to use if I want my dog in a stay, then release, to get something (or maybe GET IT would be the better command) or do to an obstacle e.g. agility. I think I may need three release commands: Yes for release and reward mark, break for release into something that doesn't necessarily have a command, but is related to some type of behavior that is implied, and a Free, which would be you are free to do what you want within reason (Go sniff, go play with another dog, go run around).
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-22-2017, 09:01 AM
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This is a good question and I like the responses, but here is my two cents. I bet what we say doesn't matter as much as our body language. The dog probably sees our more casual movements and figures, "OK, we're done with the strict stuff".
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-22-2017, 10:47 AM
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This *is* a very good and subtle question. My first thought is that your release command seems to be serving dual purposes: as a bridge, so to say, to the next command and as a signal that the first command has ended. That might be confusing to some dogs --- but perhaps not. My (admittedly novice) preference would be to simply go to the next command (e.g., 'stay,' followed by 'come;' aka chaining) and save the release to mark/signal that the dog is free (or released) from the first command and/or that the training session is over. YMMV.

My second thought is to make sure that whatever you use as a release command is a unique word that's not part of everyday language. I'm still grappling with a mistake I made years ago in that regard. The release command that I used ('Okay') is one that virtually everyone uses in everyday speech, including me. I cannot tell you how many opportunistic dogs have seized on the fact that someone in the universe said 'okay' while they were under another, patently objectionable command, like 'Stay' or 'Place.'

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Last edited by Aly; 08-22-2017 at 10:50 AM. Reason: randomness
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-22-2017, 01:15 PM
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It's funny you should mention the "Okay" release command Aly, as that's what I've been using. I also have realized that it's probably been a mistake to have chosen that word because it is said often by me when not addressing the dog. BUT, unlike you I refuse to admit my mistake - to my dog at least 😈 So, I've decided to require her name to be included, so she knows when I'm talking to her vs when I'm not. Hopefully I'm not just showing how ignorant a novice can be, and this will really work...
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-22-2017, 01:18 PM
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I use "Okay!" for release but kinda regret it. She can sieve out any 'OK' from a regular conversation to her advantage. Smartie.
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-22-2017, 01:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tim_s_adams View Post
BUT, unlike you I refuse to admit my mistake - to my dog at least 😈 So, I've decided to require her name to be included, so she knows when I'm talking to her vs when I'm not.
Uh huh. Lemme know how well that works, Tim....

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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-22-2017, 01:39 PM
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Originally Posted by wolfy dog View Post
I use "Okay!" for release but kinda regret it. She can sieve out any 'OK' from a regular conversation to her advantage. Smartie.
There are times when I dearly wish that dogs had fewer IQ points....

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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-22-2017, 08:32 PM Thread Starter
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Then there are trainers who swear by the implied stay. Every command should be implied until it is released and there is no formal STAY command. This would seem like a lot more work as every command must be remembered to be released. What are the pros and cons of training an implied stay and not having a formal stay command?
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