Many people hold the belief that every child needs a dog. Although this article is not about the benefits of dogs to children, it is about how children can help dogs. When children are young, they often express a desire to their mommies that they want to help. They want to be a big kid and help mom with the dishes, the laundry, and even taking care of the dog! Here are a few ways children can help care for the family pet.
First and foremost, it is important to know the age appropriateness of tasks for children as they are related to caring for their pets. Toddlers are often very willing to help, but partly because of their size, and mainly due to their age, they simply can not help the way “big kids” can. So, how can toddlers help? They can help feed and water the dog. Simply get two plastic cups, divide your dog’s dinner portion between the two cups. Take your toddler to the food bowl and show them how to pour the food into the dish. Then go ahead and do the same thing with the water. Young children love this, and they really feel like they are helping mommy! Also, if your toddler is gentle enough, you can hand them a doggie brush and they can help you groom your dog’s coat. Taking the dog on walks with the stroller is also an excellent way your child can help.
For children who are still young, mainly from about 4 to 7 years of age, you can gradually increase their responsibility. Children of this age are able to pour the food and water into the dishes, they can groom the pet on their own, and they can begin helping you bathe your dog by handing you the shampoo, or by gently spraying the water over the dog as you hold him still.
Once your kids reach older ages, they are able to help in many more ways. They can clean up pet accidents in the house, they can usually (depending on your child’s maturity) be responsible for feeding and watering your pooch, take him or her out to do their business in the yard, or even depending on your dog’s size and temperament, bathe them as well.
Once your kids become teenagers, they should be responsible enough to feed and water the dog, take them out on walks daily, give them baths, and they may even be able to take Fido to the vet for their annual routine check-up.
It is always a joy to allow your kids to grow up with a dog. If your children express interest in helping take care of your pet, let them! Consider the age appropriateness of their tasks, and they will love it! To young children, responsibility is fun. Use this as a learning experience, and you and your children will be able to bond with the family pet as you all bond together!