Obedience Training: BREAK Command

The Release Command BREAK

The release command BREAK is the indication that the individual command is finished. Read and understand all the steps prior to teaching your dog BREAK.

Teach the BREAK Command

Since every obedience command has a beginning, middle, and finish, you need a clear signal for the finish. Your dog needs a clear understanding of when he is working and when he is not. The release cue BREAK lets him know that he is no longer under command. Break is not a license to return to poor behavior but simply to release from a command. The BREAK command should be used frequently during the workout, not just at the end of the session.

While you are teaching your dog to SIT, begin teaching BREAK at the same time. Begin by standing with your shoulders facing your dog. You do not need to be at the front of your dog — you may stand at the side or rear as long as your shoulders are facing your dog. Using a natural motion bring your hands together, palms facing each other, waist high. Pause.

The following actions are to be performed simultaneously. With an enthusiastic voice, give the release cue BREAK, spread your hands approximately shoulder-width apart, and take one step backwards. These motions will serve to draw your dog off the SIT. As soon as your dog releases from the SIT command, praise verbally with “good BREAK” to associate this action with the word BREAK.

If your dog fails to move off the SIT command, repeat the BREAK command with the motion assistance but add tension with the leash to gently motivate your dog off the SIT command. Make sure you stand up straight while performing the BREAK command. If you bend over towards your dog, your body language is telling him to remain in a SIT. As soon as your dog releases from the SIT command, praise with “good BREAK.”

Reinforce the BREAK Command

As your dog gets better at position holding, wean off your body motion so that only the hand signal and verbal cue remain. The goal of this command is that your dog releases without you moving your feet. If your dog has difficulty moving off his SIT or DOWN, try a more energetic voice command. If he still resists, give a light corrective NO and repeat BREAK.