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My children are rapidly approaching the age when they will start becoming responsible enough to manage a pet on their own. My wife and I want to encourage this to help teach them the responsibility of caring for someone else, to place the needs of another before their own.

However, they are not quite there yet. They show interest in feeding our dog (sometimes) and usually their own activities take precedence when they are asked to help with the dog.

What are the signs I should look for in my children to know when it is the right time so we don't end up taking care of it ourselves.

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    I believe this question is more about children than about pets, and therefore belongs better on Parenting. They've got a whole tag about pets. – hairboat Oct 9 '13 at 14:40
  • @AbbyT.Miller that's a fair point, however my reasoning for asking was to get the perspective of the pet community as they might have better insight into what it might take for a child to care for the pet that is in the best interest of the pet – psubsee2003 Oct 9 '13 at 14:50
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    @psubsee2003 As it happens, you got both :P (I'm a parenting mod). This question actually already exists on parenting, btw. – Beofett Oct 9 '13 at 19:21
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about parenting, also broad, it cannot be answered adequately within this format. – user6796 Oct 16 '13 at 6:02
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    This closed question has been suggested for re-open without editing or giving a rationale, vote to keep closed. – James Jenkins Oct 29 '13 at 23:34
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First and foremost, I would suggest making sure that your children can, and will, perform regular chores every day without fail.

If you don't already have a pet, then you can establish some other daily chore as a surrogate. If they're not already doing such a chore, you can assign a new one, and explain that you're doing so to see how they would handle the responsibility of a pet.

Make sure they do the chore every single day. I'd suggest waiting at least a month, to make sure they don't lose interest over time, and you should probably avoid establishing a clear timeframe with them (its much easier to keep up that chore in the third week knowing you only have 7 more days until you get that pet you wanted!).

You can also expose them to other aspects of taking car of pets by finding friends who have a pet of the type you are considering, and arranging for your children to help out with some of the less fun tasks. Walking someone else's dog (supervised), and then being responsible for picking up their droppings is a big test of a child's commitment, as would scooping litter for a cat, or cleaning out a rabbit's cage, or cleaning a fish tank.

However, since it sounds like you already have a dog, then the best demonstration is that they simply take on the responsibility of feeding and walking your dog. Its fine if you supervise, particularly if they aren't physically big enough to safely walk your dog, but you should put them in charge of picking up the droppings and disposing of them safely. If they can't shoulder a portion of the burden of caring for a pet already in the household, they won't be ready for their own pet.

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It's a lot of duty for one to have a pet on his own. Taking care of a pet requires the commitment to take a huge responsibility. But since you have a dog in your house, it is understandable that your children know that very well.

I will say you give up some of the day-to-day duties to your children slowly of the current dog, see if they feel interested, in this case love to do the work is very much important and the love should come from inside of their own. Upon observing, if it appears to you that they are not unhappy in executing the duties and they really love to do the job, you can let them have their own pet. But again, don't try to push them to have one because if they are really reluctant, you will face problems after buying a pet. The responsibility for the new pet in turn can be added to your own burden. So decide wisely.

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