Children Can Help With Pet Care Tasks
Children should help with the responsibilities and tasks that are associated with having a pet. As adults though, we need to remember that children are children and adolescents are adolescents. It's very important to assign tasks that are appropriate for the child's age.
• The Toddler - A toddler can help parents with pet care simply by being involved — "helping" a parent fill food and water dishes, grooming, going with parents to take the pet for a walk or to the veterinarian. The toddler and young child can accompany the parent when he or she purchases the food, grooming supplies and other essential elements involved in pet care. The toddler can also give the dog a treat for good behavior. This special job is rewarding and enjoyable for both the dog and the toddler.
• The 5 to 7 Year Old - The children in this age group are capable of doing some of the tasks above (feeding, watering, grooming) without parental help. Don't assume that children will automatically assume these responsibilities and that they will always remember to do them. Very often, a nice friendly reminder from mom or dad is required.
• The 8 to 12 Year Old - At this age, a child can feed, water and play with the pet alone (depending on the pet's temperament and area for exercising). Parents still need to supervise children in this age group for some tasks, like walking the dog. It's not advised that children under 10 walk a dog without adult supervision.
• The Teenager - Depending on your teen's maturity, you can sometimes allow him/her to take full responsibility for the pet, including feeding, cleaning up after, driving to the vet and exercising the pet. Allowing your teen to take the dog to obedience classes can also be a good activity for both of them.