For many children, receiving a puppy is a dream come true. When given the task of actually taking care of this living thing, however, they fail. If you are planning to add a new four-legged member to your family, use this opportunity to give your kid a lesson in responsibility. Prepare your kid to help care for your new pup.
Begin the task of tackling puppy responsibilities before the puppy ever enters the house. Create a pre-puppy contract with your kid. Sit down with your child and create a list of things that must be done for a puppy. Make this list creation easier by consulting a puppy care book for specifics. Write down which family member will complete each task. Post this finished contract on your refrigerator or another prominent area. This contract is important if your child is the one who is requesting the puppy. The creation of this contract makes it clear to the child that the puppy he wants will bring increased responsibilities.
Beginning with the Basics
Don’t assume that your child knows how to interact with your new family member. Instead, engage in explicit instruction. Show him how to pet and handle this new puppy. Depending on the breed and temperament of the dog, you may need to explain safety procedures as well. For example, if the dog is large and your child is small for his age, it is wise to create rules regarding adult supervision when child and puppy are together.
Puppy Care Calendar
Make it easier for your kid to remember what he needs to do to care for the puppy each day by creating a puppy care calendar. Purchase a calendar featuring pictures of pups, or create a plain calendar on the computer to use for this purpose. Place this calendar on your refrigerator, or hang it on the wall in your child’s bedroom. Write daily tasks, such as dog walking and dog feeding, on each day of the calendar. Ask your child to cross off each task as she completes it to keep on top of her dog care tasks and to ensure that the puppy has everything it needs.
Puppy Care Schedule
Instead of allowing your child to pick and choose when he completes his puppy care tasks, create a time schedule for him to follow. By creating a detailed schedule to dictate puppy care practices, you make it easier for your kid to remember to complete his tasks. You also ensure that your growing pup does not have to wait all day for your child to return home from school or to finish playing with his friends before the pup gets fed.
Partnered Puppy Walking
Many children enjoy showing off their puppies by taking them on walks around the neighborhood. Depending on the age and size of your child, however, it may not be safe to let your kid tackle this task alone. If your kid is too small to handle the puppy alone, create the illusion of solo walking by engaging in a partner puppy walk. To do this, attach two leashes to your dog’s collar, one long and the other short. You hang on to the longer leash, and give your child the shorter. Allow your child to control the dog with her leash, but hang on to yours as well — in case she loses control and you need to step in.