Check out this easy to use dog care chore checklist for toddlers (and older children too!). This free printable will help you engage your child in caring for the family dog, as well as serve as a reminder for adults to complete pet chores.
I’m trying to get my children more involved in chores. My sons, Kaden and Godric, are almost 2 and 4 years old. They’ve been helping with many of these chores for some time, but not on a schedule. I created this checklist for us to share as a family. We initial next to which items we complete: M for mommy, G for Godric, and K for Kaden.
Godric LOVES checklists so he’s excellent at completing tasks using one. He also loves being involved in our pet chores. He enjoys helping feed or train the dog, feed and clean the fish tank, etc.
I’ve got many goals here for doing this checklist:
- Create a routine
- Be responsible for chores
- Care for others
- Work on writing letters (Initial for each item)
- Work on speech
- Teach a skill
How to Use the Printable
I printed my list, laminated it, then hung it on the refrigerator so we can see it each day. A dry erase marker works wonderfully for this. I make him write his initial for what he complete so he gets practice.
The nice thing about the list is that you can use it for both kids. If both kids brush the dog, both initials fit on the line.
At the end of the day, we can count up how many times he initialed and he gets beads to add to the “good job jar.” When the beads fill up, he gets a prize (or a special outing, etc). I actually use our good job jar for both kids and let them work together towards a prize.
Erase the sheet and start over the following day.
Safety and Dog Care for Toddlers
Please note that many of these chores should be dependent on your child and dog. Please watch out for signs that your dog is uncomfortable and adjust your schedule as necessary. My dog doesn’t like having his teeth brushed so I do that chore and I write M for mommy under tooth brushing.
Always supervise chores closely… Particularly pet chores. This is a good time to be a helicopter parent… Your goal is to let them do it for themselves and learn, but in a safe environment. You don’t want to set your child up to have a fearful experience with chores, ie. Getting bit by dog. This is an example of one thing as a parent that will require a ton of extra effort and energy now- but payoff long term.
I also made adjustments to the chore itself to help my kids be successful and so the dog will feel comfortable and safe.
- Brushing Dog: I give my children a soft brush to brush the dog. This brush isn’t going to hurt the dog if my child isn’t gentle. I show the kids how to brush in the correct direction.
- For “training” or “practicing tricks,” I find this is a great opportunity to practice our speech, as well as to incorporate hand signals. I can teach my sons common commands, and they also learn how to direct behavior. Training is a very useful skill in my opinion. It takes kindness, patience, and planning. As the kids get older, I’ll work with them on teaching new tricks. My dog is 8 years old and knows how to do quite a few tricks so at my kids’ age I’m just having them learn to give commands to get a response from the dog. They say “sit” and use their hand signal, they treat dog when he responds appropriately. It’s not super easy because he doesn’t see them as authority figures. They also can’t say the words very clearly so it’s something for them to practice. I help them along. My 1 yr old can’t get the dog to do much, but my 3 year old can get him to sit, stay, come. I’m training my 3 year old to treat at the appropriate time. Overall it’s not perfect, but it’s actually a fun learning game for the kids and me. I feel that it also helps build a relationship between the child and the dog.
- Teeth Brushing: I have a brush that goes on my finger and also a long toothbrush. If your dog is tolerant of having his teeth brushed and you want to help your child brush the dog’s teeth, I’d probably use the long brush. I wouldn’t let your child go solo here. Too much can go wrong, even with a tolerant dog.
- Feeding: I keep an old sippy cup (minus the top) in the dog food bin. The kids can scoop the food and put it in the dogs bowl. Again… supervise supervise supervise. My dog would weight twice as much as he does if I didn’t supervise. My son LOVES to feed him and doesn’t get the concept of “just one scoop.” And some dogs are fussy about who touches their food. Keep an eye out.
- Watering: My sons both get their own water from the refrigerator so watering isn’t an issue. I let them do this part solo (for my oldest anyways) because our dog won’t take issue with it. They spill water so often that they know the deal- if you spill water, you get a rag and wipe it up.
Don’t forget to check out my free printable, Chore Checklist for Toddlers. Want to app to track chores and pay allowance? This app even gives your kids their own debit card. Check my post on how to use the Greenlight App.