Once your new puppy is safe and sound at home for his first arrival, give your child certain tasks that can get her involved in taking care of the little doggie. These tasks should be assignments that she can easily manage, either on her own or with your help.
However, you should not give her too much responsibility over the puppy just yet. She should only do certain tasks that are appropriate for her age. Too much or too little responsibility can be discouraging to the child and can tarnish the relationship that she should have with your new pet.
What Can Toddlers Do?
Toddlers (up to three years old) can pick up the puppy’s toys and put them back in the basket. Toys that are left out can be a hazard both to the family and your puppy. Toddlers can also hand treats as a reward during training and for good behavior. And when it’s time for your puppy to go to the vet to get his shots, your child can be there to see that the little pup gets shots just like he does!
Pre-Schoolers & Young Kids
Pre-schoolers and young kids (up to eight years old) can help, under supervision, with feeding the puppy and making sure that his water bowl is never empty. Children around this age can also take the puppy out (with a leash) for bathroom breaks and can assist in bathing and brushing the puppy.
However, other grooming procedures like ear cleaning, nail clipping, and teeth brushing should be done by the adults and older kids. Youngsters can also hold the leash of a small puppy during walks, but have older children walk larger dogs.
Kids Ages 9 and Up
Kids from the age of nine and up should be able to do all of the above tasks. In addition, they can help clean up after the pet and help with housetraining and basic training commands, such as “Sit” and “Come”.
Even if some of the tasks mentioned are less than enjoyable to do, children should realize that doing these chores is part of owning a dog. Realizing all characteristics of a responsible dog owner early on in their lives can help them become informed and responsible adult dog owners.
Two other puppy tasks that your child can participate in, regardless of the child’s age, are keeping the dog physically fit and mentally healthy. This can be achieved by regular exercise and socialization from the moment your puppy arrives in the home.