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When Should Children Start Helping with Pet Care Tasks

Learning how to take good care of a pet is an amazing skill to impart on your children. However, depending on their age, your child may not be fully equipped to handle all of the important responsibilities that come along with pet ownership. The best way to introduce your child to the world of pet care is to start small and only choose age-appropriate activities for your child. 

Children Under 6

  • Walking: You should never give children under the age of 6 full control of a pet’s leash. Not only could they be easily overpowered by your pet, regardless of size, they may not have the motor control skills necessary to keep a hand on the leash at all times. That doesn’t mean your child can’t participate–invite them on walks to encourage healthy exercise and establish a routine. 
  • Feeding & Cleaning: Young kids aren’t old enough to fully take charge of feeding, but it’s important to introduce them to the process. Once you’ve properly measured out your pet’s food, try letting your child pour it into the bowl and give it to your pet (as long as your pet is properly trained). 

Kids Over 7 Through 12

  • Meals: Older children can usually be entrusted with mealtime responsibilities, but you’ll have to emphasize proper portions and clean-up procedures. Start by supervising your child and working your way up to unsupervised feeding if all goes well. 
  • Waste: No one looks forward to cleaning a litter box or cleaning up after a dog, but it’s an essential part of pet ownership. Establishing these habits with your child early on is the best way to incorporate it into the routine and teach them how to safely clean up after a pet. 

Contact your veterinarian today if you have any questions about what pet care tasks are and are not appropriate for your child to take on.

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