How to Get Your Dog to Stay Until You Release Him

Note: This post is sponsored by Green Bark Gummies dog treats and Pipeline Pet Products.

Is your dog too smart? Here’s what I mean …

I have a problem.

My Weimaraner Remy speaks English.

Well, not really … but he’s the type of dog where I’m going to have to start spelling out W-A-L-K unless I plan on going for a walk right this second.

Ok, no big deal.

But here’s an example of a real adjustment I need to make for Remy:

His release word (to break from sit, down or stay) can no longer be “OK!”

“OK” is too common of a word. Meaning, if my dog hears “OK” in a conversation across the room, he’ll break from position.

Even if someone’s quietly talking on the phone like, “Jim, OK, that sounds good I’ll be there at 7.”

My dog hears: “Blerp, OK!!!!!!! Bla, bla, blerp.”


Now, you could argue that my dog should be taught that the release cue only applies when it’s coming from me while making eye contact. This works for my more mellow dog Ace who rarely challenges anything.

Or, I could just pick a different word.

Something like, “Free!” or “Break!” (Any word would work.)

How to get your dog to stay until you release him

How to get your dog to stay until you release him

Dogs need to know that “stay” really means “Stay until I release you.”

Otherwise, it’s a guessing game for them and you stand there repeating stay … stay, stay.

Just say “stay” once. Then release with whatever word you choose.

If you don’t have a release word for your dog yet, just pick one now and get started. Do you have a new puppy or new dog? Perfect.

(If you have a release word already, let me know what word you use.)

Rewarding my dog with treats while he’s still staying

It’s natural for dog owners to reward their dogs with treats immediately after the dog does something “good.”

However, when you’re working on the basics like sit, down and stay, it’s better to calmly give a treat while the dog is still staying.

That way, your smarty-pants dog won’t try to break from position early in order to get the treat (Remy!).

And if you have a dog who is explosive with energy, like Remy, getting him to just sit still is a challenge. So rewarding him when he’s actually attempting some sort of “calm” is important.


I’ll tell Remy “stay” and then pause for a few seconds, give him a treat, remind him “stay” again while I take a few steps back, then calmly return and give another treat and THEN release him. “Break!”

The treats we use—Green Bark Gummies

The treats I use for training my dogs are Green Bark Gummies. These are soft, healthy treats made with high-quality ingredients such as whitefish, chicken and duck. The treats include the patented NutriChia, which is a sprouted chia ingrained with three omega-3 fatty acids—ALA, EPA and DHA.

Green Bark Gummies are available in 4-ounce bags for $4.99 here.


Is your dog trained to stay until you release him?

What word do you use? Let me know in the comments.

17 thoughts on “How to Get Your Dog to Stay Until You Release Him”

  1. Wilson is 4 mos old so we are in a continuous phase of training. He is still hyper so have not mastered stay very well. Love your articles that help so much.

  2. Jeanie DeLorenzo

    I tell my Roxy and Tyson, “Free”. Love your website. You are right on point with everything. My son-in-law is a dog trainer for house dogs, military and law enforcement. Everything you discuss is exactly what he has taught for 14 years.

  3. This is a great post! My Rotties “stay” as long as I am in view. Their release word is break. We are working on stay while I go out of sight. I hide in another room and peek to see if they move, then I can step out and let them know they are still in a stay! While training their stay time is never the same. We also work on this outside and use the garage to hide in. This offers a few more distractions. We also play hide and go seek a lot. I put them in a sit stay then I hide and release them to find me. That’s a blast.

  4. Words we do not say unless we plan to follow through: Dog park, daycare, liquor store, Chuck and Don’s, walk, car ride, treat, bully stick, name of her “boyfriend” (the two dogs know each other’s names), name of her “boyfriend’s” owner, eat, dinner, hungry. I think that covers it. Oh, and if one partner is traveling, the spouse at home doesn’t use the name of the absent spouse.

    For a release word, we do use “okay” but she’s pretty good about not breaking unless I’m directing it at her. When it comes to training, we’ve done something similar in class: During a long sit or long down, we walk across the ring from the dogs and will then go back to them partway through, calmly praise them for a good stay, and walk off again. Especially important if one of the dogs in the lineup breaks their stay and our dog holds firm!

      1. It’s her Disney Land. Which I could understand if they gave out really good treats, but they give something that is typically not high value for her at all. Oh well, I guess it’s the little things.

  5. Hi my new rescue cutie pie name is Halleys Comet.
    She is a very smart 10 month old dog and smartly stubborn lol
    I can get her to sit no problem
    But to het her to stay… she litterly talks back. Im serious, she has this full conversation At me in dog words, sneezes little under her breath barks ..
    Her word is Free. Any suggestions lol

  6. Sasha’s release word is ‘pahshlee’ which is Russian for let’s go. We’re working on staying until released also.

  7. My release word is “Ok”, but I’m with you and don’t really like that it’s such a common word. “Ok” is actually something I picked up from guide dogs. I will have more leeway with my next puppy since he won’t be affiliated with any school so I’ll probably change “Ok” to “Release”. A couple questions about the Green Bark Gummies: Are the treats training size (tiny)? Are they low, mid, or high value treats to Remy and Ace?

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I consider the GBG mid to high level. They are on the high end for treats (kind of like Zuke’s minis) but not quite up there with real food like pieces of ham or chicken! They are about the size of a stamp, so I often rip them in half for training.

  8. My release word is “free”. When I was teaching my dogs to skijor, I got into a bad habit of saying “ok hike” so now whenever I say “ok” they think it’s time to run.

  9. We have an 8 month Airedale who seems to constantly LICK things, people, shoes, rugs, fireplace. Just thing. She licks my shoes while I’m putting them on. Licks my pants when I’m putting them on. We’ve told her no over & over. She still licks..

    1. This will hopefully be something she grows out of as she gets older. Right now she’s just full of energy and probably still wants to puppy bite a bit but instead she is licking. My 9.5-month old weim pup does a lot of biting and licking too, and it’s very annoying. Telling them “no, no, no!” doesn’t seem to help. I think it’s best to work on teaching them an alternative behavior like getting them to sit or lie down on command (and stay) or getting up and leaving the room when they get too annoying and can’t settle down.

  10. Bindi is my 3mo Border Collie/Aussie Cattle Dog mix. Her release is “That’ll Do.” It’s a totally unrelated herding command (she will never be a header) that I think is cool and reminiscent of her heritage. Just starting out with this training. Do you think this release command is too long?

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