Having any pet is a lot of work. Dogs especially require a large time commitment so it’s important to share the duties between family members. When kids have a role in caring for the family dog, it teaches responsibility and creates a closer bond between the pup and child.
Whether your child is 2 or 17, there are several was for him or her to help care for Fido. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Being in charge of feeding the dog is great for even the youngest kids. While you as the parent may have to check to make sure this is being done, it’s easy for kids to keep track of as well. Use feeding as a way to teach little ones how to count: Does your dog get one scoop of food or three scoops? Use different size scoops to teach kids about kitchen measurements and fractions, for example how two half cups equal one whole cup.
Before assigning this task, take into account the size of your dog and the size of your child. A bigger dog like a golden retriever can be difficult to walk while a smaller animal such as a Shih Tzu is easier for a younger child. Start by letting your child hold the leash with you and move on to walking alongside him or her once they’re comfortable.
Brushing can be an easy task with a calm dog. Make sure your child brushes in the right direction and uses gentle strokes. Brushing provides a good opportunity to teach young kids about the animal’s body parts: find the feet, tail, nose, eyes, etc. and talk about how these features can look different on different kinds of dogs. And while brushing at home is important, make sure to take your pup in for professional grooming as well to keep their coat in the best shape.
4. Cleaning Up Accidents
It’s no fun for anyone, but when the dog has an accident it needs to be cleaned up quickly and thoroughly. Show older kids the proper cleaning materials that should be used to sanitize the surface and make sure they reprimand the dog appropriately to help train it to use the bathroom outside.
5. Basic Training
Training a dog is difficult — especially a brand new puppy! While kids probably won’t be able to spearhead the training efforts, they can do their part by rewarding good behavior and gently reprimanding poor behavior. This way, the dog sees consistent reactions from everyone in the family. The more people in the family who are on board with the training the better!