10 Ways Kids Can Help with the Family Dog
Did you know that 63.4 million homes in the United States own a dog? As dog lovers, this makes our hearts happy. There are many benefits to owning a family dog.
According to a study reported on CNN, “Owning, walking and playing with a family dog could encourage your toddler’s social and emotional development.” Specifically, the study found, “Toddlers from dog-owning families were more likely to exhibit higher levels of prosocial behaviors, and they had lower overall difficulties. Children who walked a pet dog with their families at least one day weekly and played with their dogs at least three times a week had higher prosocial scores than those who did so less often.” That’s huge! Beyond encouraging social and emotional development, a family dog also increases the amount of physical activity family members get (which is important because childhood obesity is on the rise).
Quite possibly the biggest reason for saying yes to your child’s begging for a family dog is that it is a wonderful way to teach responsibility. Essentially, you are bringing another family member into your home. So, it’s completely understandable for parents to consider the ways their kids can help with the family dog before they bring one home.
Before you head to the animal shelter, you should have a plan. We suggest using the following list of 10 ways your kids can help with the family dog as a guide for creating a dog chore chart. The following tasks should be adjusted based on your child’s age.
1. Dog Proof the Home
Before you bring a new dog into your home, you need to dog proof it. Much like when you suddenly have a crawling baby, you have to make sure the home is safe for your new four-legged family member. Explain to your kids that they need to pick up anything off the floor or low surfaces that could hurt your dog.
2. Picking Up Your Dog’s Toys
In addition to picking up their toys, have your child pick up your dog’s toys at the end of the day. We recommend having a small storage basket for all your dog’s chew toys. Simply explain that after playtime (or at the end of the day), your pup’s toys need to be put back in the basket to help keep the house clean.
3. Fill the Water Bowl
Your dog needs fresh water every day. Once your child is big enough to pour his own drink, he is old enough to fill your dog’s water bowl. If the water bowl is large and difficult to carry when full, have your child fill a cup with water and pout it into the bowl instead. Beware – spills will happen! Make sure you show your kids where the paper towels are located.
4. Daily Feedings
A simple way to teach your child responsibility is by making feeding the family dog her responsibility. To make this work, we suggest demonstrating it first and making feeding rules clear. For example, show your child how much food to give your dog at each feeding (or have a measuring cup or scoop that is always used). If your child has trouble remembering if she fed the dog, try using a chore chart or chore app to mark when the dog has been fed to avoid missing meals or overfeeding.
5. Brushing the Family Dog
A great way to have your child bond with your family dog is to have him do some of the grooming. Show him where you keep the grooming supplies (such as brushes or mitts) and allow him to brush your dog regularly. This will keep your dog from getting mats and lessen shedding.
6. Taking the Family Dog for Walks
If your child is old enough, pass the dog walking chore onto her. Dogs need to be walked daily, but rather than making it seem like a chore, show kids that walking the dog is a special privilege. It gives kids a bit of freedom while teaching responsibility.
7. Help with Bath Time
Bath time can be fun for the whole family! Depending on your child’s age, let him participate in some of the bath time routine. For example, young children may simply need to watch when you bathe your dog. As they get older, they can take part by helping lather shampoo or towel off your dog. Older teens can take over and wash the dog themselves.
8. Playing and Releasing Energy
One of the most fun ways to get kids to help is to simply let them play with their new best friend. Dogs, especially puppies, need daily opportunities to play, run, and release energy. When your kids start to complain of boredom, have them spend some time playing with the dog. Chase, fetch, hide and seek – the possibilities are endless!
9. Teaching and Training the Family Dog
Guardian explains, “Involving your children in your dog’s training process gives them a sense of ownership and accountability for the dog’s behaviors.” From the time you bring your dog into the family home, you are responsible for teaching it how to live with humans. For example, make sure your kids understand that biting is not allowed, so they should not encourage your dog do it. Also, kids love training dogs to sit, as well as perform tricks.
10. Cleaning Up Accidents
Accidents will happen. Once your child is old enough, pass along some of the responsibility for cleaning up dog accidents. Be sure they know which products to use and how to use them.
Then again, why make your kid scoop the poop when Super Scoopers can handle it for you? This is one chore you don’t want to leave in your kid’s hands. Super Scoopers offers a variety of residential scooping packages so you can enjoy your family dog and the backyard.