Manners Matter: Kids Must Help with New Puppy

Dear Mary Pat,

My family just got a new puppy – hurray! We are all very excited, and my kids are as happy as can be. However, when we got the puppy, we told them they would need to help be responsible for taking care of her. This hasn’t been happening. Any advice on how I can get my kids to help walk, feed and clean up after the dog? 

Doggie Daydream

Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

Dear Doggie Daydream,

Puppies are adorable and funny and sweet – and a lot of work. When deciding whether to get a puppy, a lot of bargaining happens: “If you let us get a dog, I promise I’ll feed it and pick up after it. You’ll never even have to ask me. I’ll do it automatically. You won’t have to lift a finger.” Then the dog arrives, and everyone is instantly in love, and nothing seems like a chore. A few weeks later, though, the tasks that were effortless at first aren’t quite as fun. 

My advice is simple: Tell them to do it. You don’t need to shout or guilt-trip them. You are the parent, and you decide who does what around the house. If you do everything for the dog, your children will think they’re off the hook. If it means they need to get up 15 minutes earlier to take the dog out, then they’ll have to change their routine a little bit. After school, they’ll have to take the dog for a walk or pick up the yard. No screen time until they’ve completed their canine chores. Families must all pitch in, and if your children are old enough to want a dog, they’re old enough to care for her, too. 

Good luck,

Mary Pat

Miss Pat was educated at the Finnish Finishing School for Fine Ladies. Eloquent in edifying etiquette, she is fluent in seven languages, including the language of love. Mary Pat has generously extended her counsel to you and will answer any and all inquiries. Email Mary Pat at [email protected].