Kids in the age range of 12-16 can take a great deal of responsibility for the care and training of a puppy or a well-trained older dog.
Puppy Care and Training
They can feed, groom, train and clean up after the puppy. They can let the puppy in and out of the crate. Most children in this age range can handle the puppy independently in a group obedience class (while a parent observes) and can continue as the puppy grows older and stronger. Behaviour specialist Teresa Lewin suggests that a child is old enough to handle a dog independently when the dog respects and obeys the child, when the child can read the dog, predict an impending problem and can intervene appropriately. This will occur at different ages and depends on the maturity of the child, the relationship the child has developed with the dog and the temperament and level of training of the dog.
Walking the Dog Alone
Some kids age 12-16 will be safe walking the dog in the neighbourhood without adult supervision. This depends on the maturity of the child and a number of factors. According to Teresa Lewin of Doggone Safe, some basic criteria must be met:
· The dog knows how to walk on a loose leash and this behaviour is reliable
· The child can read the dog’s body language
· The child and dog have a mutually respectful relationship
· The dog will happily and willingly follow directions from the child
· The dog has never shown any sign of aggression toward people or other dogs
· The dog does not chase cars, cats, or other animals
· The child knows how to interpret situations and take appropriate action.
In addition, the size and strength of the dog relative to the child must be taken into consideration. The child should be strong enough to control the dog if the dog did decide to bolt or pull hard on the leash. Another consideration is the situation in the neighbourhood with respect to other dogs. If there are loose dogs, or dogs that act aggressively on the walk route, then the child should take a different route or not walk the dog without an adult.
Make it a Family Event
Better still, make walking the dog a daily family event. This has many benefits for the family as well as the dog.