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Teaching Your Child Responsibility Through Pet Care

Owning a pet can teach your child responsibility, compassion, empathy, and how to nurture. When your child is a toddler, they won’t have much of a role in caring for your pets. But at preschool age and beyond, there are chores you can give them that will foster responsibility. 

Knowing When Your Child is Ready

Ultimately, you know your child best and you’ll have a sense of when they are ready to start taking on pet-related responsibilities. It’s never too early to start teaching them how to safely interact with pets, the importance of caring for pets, and the benefits that pet ownership has to offer. 

Preschool & Kindergarten Age

When your child is three, they will have enough communication, comprehension, and mobility skills to help with simple pet care. Ask them to assist you with feeding, giving out treats, grooming, and playing with your pet, but always be sure to supervise these activities closely. 

Elementary School Age

An older child can handle more responsibilities. They can go along with you on dog walks, learn about properly handling and caring for your pet, and get the pet’s bowl ready for food. 

Middle School Age

When your child is middle school age, they have enough skills to increase their responsibilities. They should be able to handle feeding, watering, grooming, and cleaning up after the pet with minimal supervision (although you should always check in to make sure these chores are really being done!) 

High School and Older

Children this age can take on most of the responsibilities of pet ownership. They shouldn’t do all of them unsupervised, like clipping a dog’s nails or taking a pet to the vet. But they can handle walking, feeding, watering, grooming, bathing, and cleaning up after your pet on their own. 

When you get a new pet for the household, you should schedule a visit to the veterinarian right away. Your child should come along so they can start learning early about pet ownership.