My 12-year-old daughter has been asked to care for a neighbor’s dog for a week. She won’t have to walk the dog, only play with her in their fenced-in backyard. The dog is a sweet, mid-sized spaniel mix. We also have a dog, and my daughter is good with him. Do you think she’s old enough for this job? ~ Chrissie
If your daughter is good with your dog and also knows the dog she’ll be caring for, then this might be a nice opportunity for her to take on some additional responsibility. You will need to help her though. Go with her for the first few visits to make sure she knows what to do.
Expect that you’ll need to remind her about the dog from time to time. It’s common for kids to focus so much on what they’re actually doing that they forget what they should be doing instead.
You may also need to do either the last outing at night or the first one in the morning. Typically a 12-year-old sleeps more hours per night than a dog can comfortably hold it.
One advantage of having a preteen care for a dog is that she may have more time to hang out with the dog and play than an older child’s busier schedule would allow. Dogs get lonely when their families travel. They more than just food, water, and potty breaks, so encourage your daughter to spend some time petting and playing with the dog during her visits.