pre-teen and dog care

Can I get your advise on this situation…

My son is 11yrs old and has a dog. It was a gift from my dad and my son promised to take care of it as it is HIS dog. Rosey is great! She is a little min pin and she is smart as a whip, she will be 2yrs old in January. I make sure she has all of the ‘stuff’ she needs and his job is to feed her, water her, train her, walk her, play with her, etc…

Here is my issue. I have to remind him to feed her on a regular basis and twice he has let her run out of water even after I have reminded him to take care of it. She lets me know by bringing her dish to the gate when I am on my way out in the morning (we always put her out in the morning to do her business).

Have any of you had the same issue? What did you do to fix it?

Instruct. Repeat. Instruct. Repeat. Etc, etc, etc, ad nauseum. sigh I hear you.
My 16 y.o. still needs to be told numerous times before he “remembers” to do whatever it is he’s supposed to do. He’s getting better, but the thing with kids is, that they’re just not always motivated the same way we are. (As I’m sure you’ve noticed.) They have us to fall back on, so they’re just not worried about it. This is my current theory, anyhow.

It’s the same old story everywhere, they want the dog/cat/goldfish/hamster, they promise to take care of it, then the novelty wears off and it’s your problem now. Obviously, letting the dog go without food, water and other care is not an option. Giving it away is not fair to the dog. Constant nagging is what’s left, which is hardly a solution.

I only wish I knew what to do about it, sorry. I think you may be stuck taking care of his dog, unless someone else has a better idea.

I’m not a parent, and I’ve never dealt with this issue, personally. I generally always tell parents who are considering getting their kids a dog to understand that, while the kid may swear up and down they’ll always care for the dog and that the parent will never have to take any responsibility for it, to understand that the kid is a kid. They don’t always assume responsibility perfectly, and the parent shouldn’t necessarily expect the kid to take 100% perfect care of the pet–that some responsibility will fall to the parent to ensure that when the kid slips up, they will feed or water the dog, etc. Might be the most contientous, responsible kid in other areas of his or her life, but still a kid. I wouldn’t let an eleven year old assume primary responsibility for a sibling, and I wouldn’t trust an eleven year old to take perfect care of a pet (yes, I’m aware that lots of kids do have their own pets, and take great care of them, but it shouldn’t be a given that this will be the case every time).
As the adult, I think the best you could do would be to remind your son that it is his dog, and that he promised to assume responsibility for it. If you don’t want the dog yourself and don’t want to assume any responsibility for caring for it, I’d suggest sitting your son down, and explaining that this is a living creature that depends on him for it’s food and water and everything else for its well-being, the same that an infant depends on its mother, and that he needs to care for the animal who’s life depends on him. Ask him how he’d like to go without dinner just because you forgot to feed him. Remind him that the dog cannot just go to the 'fridge for a snack if she gets hungry. Ask him how it feels to be thirsty all day and not be able to get a drink of water. If he cannot properly care for the dog, then tell him you will place the dog in a home with someone who will. See that he cares for it, and if he doesn’t then place the dog.
However, it sounds as though you do like the dog and want to keep it. In that case, I’d still have the same talk with him, but understand that you’ll occasionally need to feed or water the dog, because after all, your eleven year old is an eleven year old. They forget things, and sometimes you’ll have to do it when he forgets. Perhaps removing a priviledge when he forgets to feed or water the dog?
Again, I’m not a parent, so take this advice with all the grains of salt it needs–but maybe if he forgets to feed or water the dog, and wants to do something, say “Mom, I want to do [activity] after school” you can tell him “I’m sorry, but you forgot to feed/water Rosey this morning, so you’ll need to do [chore] after school to demonstrate some responsibility before I can let you do [activity] on your own.”

Just my opinion, YMMV and all that. I’ve met a lot of parents who want to get rid of the family dog, because their kid promised he or she would take care of it, but they’re not, and the parent doesn’t want to. I always want to just say to them “[s]he’s a kid. What did you expect?”

If nagging isn’t enough, then it should be explained that if he continues to fail to do his agreed-upon responsibilities (make sure the expectations are clearly spelled out) he will be punished. After a couple warnings, start taking privileges away until he gets his shit together. After proving that he can do his job for a few days, give said privilage back. Rinse and repeat.

My only suggestion other than nagging and punishment is to make a routine. Kids live on routine and it is harder to forget something if you do it at the same time, day in and day out. Every night just before he puts his pajamas on he gives the dog water, whether the bowl is empty or not. Every morning when he puts his shoes on he feeds her. Be sure to have water dishes, etc. sized properly to make it through the 24 hours.

There are also things you can buy that auto feed and auto water so that you only have to remember to fill those once a week or something, if you really don’t want to have to do it yourself. That reduces your nagging to once a week. My sister owns one for water (she has three dogs and three cats and got tired of filling it three times a day)- it has a big cylinder at the back and the water runs continuously to keep it fresh. I have seen the ones for food - they have seven compartments in a cylinder and the cylinder is timed to rotate and dump the next section at the appointed time. You have to serve only dry food for that, of course. They are normally marketed as for feeding cats, but min pin portions would probably fit as well.

PS - The thread title made me think this was going to be comparing taking care of kids to taking care of dogs, until I came in here. :slight_smile: