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All a Dog Needs is Love

By Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Breed Selection Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

Last Updated: June 2020

Hugging, kissing a puppy

Loving a dog means providing more than affection – you also must provide the leadership, rules, and routines that all dogs thrive on.

The internet is full of claims about dogs, and one of the most common claims I see is this: "All a dog needs is love."

Now, is that true or false?

Surprise! It's true. All a dog needs is love.

Presuming that you're defining love properly!

The problem is that many people equate love  with affection  (petting, stroking, hugs, kisses, sweet talk). With this improper definition in mind, owners bring home a dog and proceed to shower him with affection.

Now, affection is certainly part  of love – but when it comes to canines, affection is only a small part of love.

A very small part.

Truly loving a dog means providing what the dog really  needs – which might be quite different than what you would prefer to give him.

Owners who want to spoil a dog, laugh at naughty behaviors, hug and kiss a dog, or curl up on the sofa endlessly stroking and cuddling a dog.... are providing what they  want to give the dog. Not what the dog really needs.

In fact, the very things that some owners want to give their pup are the exact opposite of what the pup really needs.

If you truly want to love your dog, and certainly if you want to avoid or solve behavior problems, you need to provide what he really needs.

True love means providing your pup with:

  • a structured life filled with predictable patterns and routines, so the pup feels secure that he always knows what will happen next.
  • consistent positive and negative consequences, so the pup can make good decisions about which behaviors he should do, and which behaviors he shouldn't do.
  • calm confident leadership, so the pup recognizes that you're in charge and looks trustingly to you for guidance and direction.
  • and of course, affection and companionship, plus proper feeding, vaccinations, exercise, a safe environment, etc.

You can't really love a dog without providing all of those things. Every dog craves them. Every dog thrives on them.

In summary, loving  a dog is much more than just giving affection.

If an owner is showering tons of affection upon her dog, but her leadership is weak, her daily routines are weak, and her positive and negative consequences are weak, she and the pup are going to struggle with behavioral issues directly resulting from (ironically) a lack of true love.

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

Check out my other articles on dog training

Dog Training – What Works, and What Doesn't

Teaching Your Dog To Respect You

Teach the Right Words In The Right Ways

Solving Dog Behavior Problems

You Need Dog Training Help.... But From Where?

These Dog Training Videos Turned Buddy Into a Good Dog

Puppy Training Schedule

Housebreaking Your Dog

Socializing Your Dog To Get Along With The World


To help you train and care for your dog

dog training videos Dog training videos. Sometimes it's easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.

The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.

book coverRespect Training For Puppies: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy. For puppies 2 to 18 months old. Your puppy will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
If your dog is over 18 months, you'll want book coverRespect Training For Adult Dogs: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved dog. Again your dog will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
book coverTeach Your Dog 100 English Words is a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your adult dog to listen to you and do what you say.
book cover11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy helps your dog live a longer, healthier life.
book coverDog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams will help you find a good-tempered, healthy family companion.