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Placeboard Release Cue – Adding Arousal

Self Control – ‘me want it, but me wait’

We are going to look at using the Placeboard and Adding Arousal to the Release Cue

Before you start you need to have completed these exercises: 

Introduction to Placeboard Training

The Sit Stay – To Wait Patiently

So the dog will sit on the placeboard and wait for the release cue

What is key with the release cue is it not a release for the dog to go do its own thing.

The release is a release from the position to get a reinforcer (reward) of high value and physical activity from you. So the dog should remain connected with you.

We are going to add distractions, proofing and strengthening the dogs ability to maintain the position and wait for the release cue ‘break’.

The reward is also going to be an active reward which will increase arousal levels. In the video I use a ball.

This is a self control exercise where the environment and situation make the exercise more challenging to achieve.

We are building arousal and the dog’s ability to remain still while his body is prepared for action. (Anticipation of reward)

In many situations where we want to dog to be still or controlled their body will be prepared for action, (usually in a fight, flight or chase response)

Anticipation of an active reward can simulate this type of response.

Start with a nice short duration stay on the board and release and reward with a ball.

Then wait for the dog to put itself back on the placeboard, do not lure of cue it.

This is the dog showing that it is ready to start again and is also motivated to repeat the exercise for the reward.

One the dog is back on wait a few seconds release and reward, remember you are marking with a ‘good’ the dog for moving on cue and then rewarding them.

Visual Distraction

You can gradually start to use the toy as a distraction just moving it about a bit and having it in your hand rather than putting it away until after the release.

Gradually increasing how distracting the toy is each time.

Then you can introduce yourself as a distraction buy firstly short fast movement.

If the dog moves just start again, you may need to encourage them on the board or ask for a sit if they do, but the key is to work back up to no cues and the dog choosing to be on the board and stay.

Cues can be added as temporary support to the learning if you think it might be needed, not to control the dog. The dog needs to learn to control itself.


This is what we call autonomous control of behaviour and when teaching self control it will build a stronger behaviour that is less likely to fail.

Remember there are now two things challenging the dog’s ability to be controlled: 

1)  The dog’s arousal levels from running and excitement (Internal neurochemical and physiological changes)

2) The distraction of you and the toy (External environmental distraction)

If the dog becomes very aroused. You can identify this by dilated pupils and panting, just drop the distraction level a little bit.

If the dog comes back in to you but struggles to offer the sit, then just wait. This is where the dog have become so excited that they are struggling to control their physical and mental skill to do the sit. It is really important here that you do not get on the back and myther, nag or insist the sit.

Just wait because waiting gives the dog time to manage its arousal back down to the point of being able to function physically and mentally again. This is I believe the most important part of this exercise , because it is where the fog has gone over threshold and learn to manage itself back below threshold. This is true development of self control.

You can progress on to dropping and throwing the toy before you release the dog.
At this stage they are going to probably run to get it

So the key is to Release ‘BREAK’ and Cue the Retrieve ‘GET IT’


Verbal Distraction (White Noise)

You can then add some verbal distraction or ‘white noise’. These are words that mean nothing to the dog so it should ignore them. This is a great game for proofing any cued behaviour and helping develop the still of listening and responding to specific cues.

The challenge will be similar words such as bake and cake!!

Once you have success with both you can do them together, so throw out the distraction and put in some white noise before you release


If at any point the dog fails, then you need to drop your criteria.

The rate of success should be high, the key is the learning is a positive emotional experience for the dog.


Watch the Video Tutorial 

Copyright Jane Ardern 2019

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