You received a pet for Christmas, how exciting and fun, but now what can your child help with. Below are some tips on age appropriate responsibilities that the children can help with. Enjoy your new addition!

Age 3 and Under
Children learn how to model positive behavior through parents guiding them to be kind and responsible pet owners. It’s important to tell children this age that pets are living animals and it’s never ok to pull their tails, pick them up without a grown up, or to go near them when eating. Young children under the age of three aren’t mature enough to care for a pet, but they can help an older sibling or parent with getting supplies or answering simple questions like, “Where do we keep the dog’s food?” They should always be supervised when around the pet.
Preschool: Ages 4-5
Children this age can certainly pet their animals carefully from head down to tail. They can also drop a treat onto the floor for their cat or dog to eat. Children this age are far too young to feed or walk a pet, but they can assist mom, dad, or older sibling with these duties by holding onto the leash while they walk the dog. Sometimes there’s an extra loop on the leash that a child of this age can help hold.
Early Elementary: Ages 6-8
Kids this age are eager learners but still need the supervision of an older sibling or adult. Teaching simple tricks and commands, and playing fetch are all great ways for your child to care for his pet’s need for stimulation and attention. Children this age can also learn brush their cat or dog correctly (head to tail in the direction the coat is growing) with supervision. Small dogs can be walked on a leash in an enclosed yard with an adult’s supervision to give them the experience in a safe environment. Bigger dogs still need to be walked by adults but the kids can help.
Later Elementary: Ages 8-11
At age 9, most kids who have been taught correctly can walk their dog for short distances under the watchful eye of an adult. At age 10 and 11, depending upon the child, they can likely walk their dog solo. This is the age most kids can groom their pet, play with them, and the older of this age range can help pick up poop! Sure it’s gross but it’s part of pet care for kids! Teaching them proper hygiene before, during, and after is crucial . Kids this age can also help bathe their dog and be taught how to feed the family pet.
Middle School and Beyond: Ages 12+
A whole new world of responsibility opens as your child reaches middle-school age and beyond to the high school years. Kids this age are more responsible and can handle all pet care tasks with ease.

When children are taught the proper care, Pets are a wonderful addition to the family. They will quickly become your Childs best friend for many years to come.