I received a Christmas card that said: “When we don’t know exactly what to do, we use the guide ‘Do what love would do’ to remind us that our decisions and actions should always be worthy of those we love.” It was from Alia, a non-profit working with foster care innovation, but I have taken the mantra to heart this week as I attempt to train my new puppy.

When I put her in the crate on the first night, she howled – then cried the most pitiful whimper. I thought of what it must be like to be without her littermates and to be in this strange house, so I ‘did what love would do’ and put her in a laundry basket next to my bed and let her sleep there.

On Night #4, Emma learned that she could jump out of that basket – and that it was much more pleasant to relieve herself inside the warm house – so I ‘did what love would do’ again and insisted that she start spending the night in her crate. After a mere moment of protest, she snuggled in for the night and now freely goes into the crate on her way to becoming a well-mannered dog.

Whether with a puppy, a child or a supervisee, love doesn’t always mean saying yes. Sometimes love requires a definitive no and setting boundaries that will help foster love and respect going forward.

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