Release Marker

  • Release Marker

    Posted by Saul on March 23, 2021 at 2:31 PM

    Hi All,

    Is the release marker “break” “free” etc. just another terminal marker for a reward like the “Yes” marker?

    Basically, from what I understand, the release marker is followed by a reward, just like the “Yes” marker

    Why do people use a different release marker if that’s a case?

    Is it because the release marker is basically a secondary reward marker?

    For example:

    You use “Yes” to shape the behavior initially

    Then introduce bridge marker

    Then once the dog has an understanding of the command without yes, you introduce the release marker to release the dog from the command

    Does that sound right?


    Riggan replied 1 year, 10 months ago 4 Members · 7 Replies
  • 7 Replies
  • Cara

    March 23, 2021 at 4:31 PM


    Not sure if the following is exactly what you’re asking/trying to figure out, but here’s my path/recent epiphany:

    Early on I adopted, “Yes” for “you’ve done what I asked you to do.” “Good” for “keep doing what I asked you to do.” And “okay” for “you can stop what I asked you to do.”

    Recently, I wondered if I’d made it more complicated than necessary but couldn’t figure out what it would look like to pivot to two words, and then I was watching one of the e-collar videos and I learned something from watching what Robert was doing, not necessarily what he was trying to teach. Learning by osmosis, I call it.

    I realized that “Good” is a all I need at the start of a behavior and by repeating it, there you go, you’ve got your bridge. “Yes” (or “okay” or whatever you want to use) is then the release/reward word.

    My dog really got the new routine fast – in fact it seemed like it made more sense to her and thus she’s taken to it even as I’m still getting proficient at it.

    Again, not sure this directly answers your question but hope it’s helpful.



    • Saul

      March 23, 2021 at 9:34 PM

      Hi Cara,

      That’s a very interesting approach, what you’re saying is you basically use “good” as the terminal reward marker in the beginning when luring, then once the dog has a grasp of the command, you use “yes” as the reward and release marker?

  • Riggan

    March 23, 2021 at 7:06 PM

    I’m not sure I understand your question. ‘’Good” is used as a bridge for skills with duration (such as Stay, Heel, etc.). It says “you are doing what I want – keep doing it.” “Yes”, “free” or whatever you want to use for a release word says “You did what I wanted – now you can do whatever you want!” You always use a release word, but don’t necessarily use a bridge for all commands. If you do use a bridge for a skill, it can be reduced or even phased out as the skill becomes more proficient. Is that what you were asking?

    • Saul

      March 23, 2021 at 9:33 PM

      Hi Riggan,

      Thanks for the reply, my question is basically how to train a dog to be familiar with a release marker?


      • Riggan

        March 24, 2021 at 2:47 PM

        Ahh! Got it! Say your release word and then toss the treat or toy, whatever you are using for a reward. Your dog will very quickly learn that the release word means he is free to move around. Later, you will do things such as tell the dog to “Stay” (or if you are using “Sit” or “Down” as an implied “Stay”) and have his toy (or a treat, but be careful doing this exercise with treats since it can get confusing if you are working on “Leave It” at the same time) on the ground where he can see it. If he breaks to get the toy, correct him and have him return to his Sit or Down. He is only allowed to run get the toy when you release him. This is when he will really start to understand that he is under the control of the command until he hears the release word. Then all bets are off! Does this make sense?

  • Bill

    March 23, 2021 at 7:22 PM

    Hi @saul

    As @cara shared her epiphany I can relate as our experience in this regard seems very similar. My “interrupter” to what I was doing came during a training session. I will tape training sessions occasionally because I want to see the effect(s) of what I am doing/saying and see the overall interaction between me and my dog while training and what we both need to work on. Early on I could see the hesitancy I felt at the time on the video. I was distracted trying to recall what I was supposed to technically do and in what sequence. To my style, I had to come up with a way I could implement what I had learned to be the correct way to do things and make it natural to me in order to be consistent, free flowing and meaningful/purposeful in my communications. Loooong story shortened, I initially boiled it down to simply:

    1.) Commands (what I want him to do)
    2.) Reinforcer (He’s doing what I want or making progress)Bridge
    Various intonations of: yes YES YYEEESSSSS YYYYEEEESSSSSS!

    3.) Sustain the behavior (I need to communicate/encourage “you get it, keep doing it!”)
    good GOOD goooooooooood GOOOOOOOOOOOOD!
    4.) Correct errors
    no NO NO! NOOOOO!

    5.) Once the command or sequence is complete – now dog’s choice
    FREE (This is the only place I use FREE)

    In my training vocabulary I am using variations of yes/good as noted above so I can’t intermix them to mean the dog is done, now its fun time, release, or whatever.

    Once I got used to my new routine, it was natural to me. Then on review of tape, I noticed my “interactions” were flat/instructional/devoid of inflection. I noted quicker up take of concepts when I showed emotion in the instruction or command (Actively engaged). So I worked on being more animated and involved when giving commands, reinforcers, corrections and thus you see the various forms of the words you see above.

    When I am using good, I will also intersperse reference to the command issued. Good fuss/heel. Good Sitz/Sit. Goooood Platz/Down and when I give a heartfelt GOOOOOD PLATZ I can almost see him smile. He is working for me and to please me – when I let him know he’s really got it right – he can’t wait to do it again. He will continue to do what brings reward – praise, encouragement, and the needed corrections as appropriate. Once this was natural to my training regime, it was easy to add on when a new concept was needed.

    Likely the most helpful thing to me was giving myself permission to internalize what I had learned to be the correct way to train so I could make it my own and I no longer had to recall/remember a sequence because it was now natural to me.

    Thanks for the opportunity to offer my experience – it was fun to look back on it – hope something is helpful to you in your journey.

    • Saul

      March 23, 2021 at 9:32 PM

      Hi Bill, thanks for your in depth reply, my question ultimately is how do you train a dog to be familiar with a release word and not confuse it with a reward marker since both the release marker and terminal marker provide a reward at the end?