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Pet Care

Pets are a lot of fun -- and a lot of work! You're probably the one who takes care of your family's furry friend, but it's smart to recruit your kids to help with simple chores and activities. Feeding the cat and walking the dog teach your child to treat animals gently and with respect -- and give her a lesson in responsibility. Although younger kids won't understand that animals depend on adults for food, water, and love, kids ages 5 and up are ready to start learning that pets need their help. One good guideline is to make your child the good cop: She gives treats or food with your supervision, but she never takes things away or punishes -- that's still your job. It's important for everyone's safety (and your peace of mind) to set up this relationship as soon as your child starts helping out. You don't want your pet to be resentful or scared of your kid, and animals won't really take discipline from a cranky preschooler. Want to know what you can do together? Check out our handy cheat sheet. Just remember, you should always supervise. So pick a chore and start learning (and playing).

Print and save this list of easy ways your kids can get involved in your pet's care.

Great for Kids (with Your Help)

  • Feeding
  • Gentle petting (animals need lots of love!)
  • Giving treats for good deeds
  • Making sure your pet always has water
  • Brushing and grooming
  • Playing fetch
  • Tidying up pet toys
  • Introducing simple commands to your pet
  • Helping to give your pet a bath
  • Coming along on your dog's daily walk

Just for Adults

  • Cleaning out fish tanks or aquariums
  • Clipping toenails and claws
  • Giving medicine
  • Scooping up poop
  • Discipline
  • Cleaning the litter box

Copyright © 2007. Used with permission from the October 2007 issue of Parents magazine.