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Your children are an integral part of the family, so they should play a key role in caring for and training your dog. However, the responsibilities they can take on depend on their ages and abilities.

How Much You Can Delegate

Keep in mind that getting a dog just to teach a child responsibility is a bad idea - for the child and the pet. Dog ownership is too big a job for a child to take on alone, but kids can definitely share in the responsibility.

Ask your veterinarian what types of pet care jobs are appropriate for children of different ages. For example, even young children will enjoy a chance to help feed your dog and let her out for bathroom breaks. However, your child must be much older to take full responsibility for feeding and watering the family dog.

The amount of responsibility your child can handle depends on his or her maturity level. Generally, 10- to 12-year-olds can take over feedings with some adult supervision, while mature teens can handle such responsibilities on their own.

Take Them All to Training

All children should be allowed to help train their dogs as long as an adult supervises the sessions. After all, dogs must learn to obey children as well as adults, so children can help teach dogs such basic commands as 'sit' and 'down'.

If possible, take your dog to a training school that lets your children participate. Even if your young child can't help directly, he or she can watch and learn how to interact correctly with dogs.

One golden rule: young children and dogs should never be left together without adult supervision. Disaster can strike when you turn your back for just one second.

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