April 27, 2023

Teaching Dogs With Unconditional Love

Can we teach our dogs with unconditional love? Is it possible to tell them that we don’t like what they are doing without shaming or rejecting them?

In traditional dog training, it feels important to make sure our dogs know that they are doing something wrong. This comes in the form of punishment, shaming, ignoring or rejecting.

In these systems, we use the display of disapproval (correcting) or the withdrawal of connection (rejecting) to influence our dogs to change their behaviour and actions.

Even in positive reinforcement training, the absence of a reward can represent rejection – risking our dogs attaching their self-worth and value to whether or not they have our approval.

Unconditional love might seem impractical when we’re trying to make our dogs understand what they need to do, when it seems like the quickest way to a desired outcome is to create tension in our dogs, with promise of relief if they can just be “good” and do it “right”.

Can teaching be done without the need for wrong and right, good and bad? Do we need to make that distinction?

With unconditional love, instead of judgement, learning is achieved with loving and honest feedback. Not from a place of approval or rejection, but from a place of expressing our needs.

Rather than making our dogs wrong and ourselves right, can we move away from that framework and simply say: “that doesn’t work for me.” Or “how can we do this differently?”

Here are some suggestions for stepping further into unconditional love in our connection and communication while learning with our dogs:

  • “Would it be helpful if I showed you another way of making this work?”
  • “I am glad you are having so much fun. But I don’t enjoy this as much as you do.”
  • “Let’s see if we can find another way of doing this so it feels good for both of us.”
  • “Is there something I can do to make this easier to understand?”
  • “I’d like to see how it would look if we did something differently. Would you like to do that with me?"

Unconditional love shows us that it’s not necessary for our dogs to be wrong or right. Rather than being “good” or “bad”, they are just themselves – however they show up.

Instead of utilizing correction or rejection, or reward or approval, we look for solutions that we can both agree on. So we’re both valued and supported, we both get to win, and we don’t need to know who’s wrong and who’s right..

♥ How does unconditional love inform your life with your dog?
♥ Where does it show up to guide and support you?

Leave a Reply
{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Enjoying what you're reading?

GET THE NEXT blog post 


Get the next article 

delivered right to your inbox