Is it too much responsibility for a 6 year old to watch the dog for 30 minutes? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 22 Old 06-16-2010, 07:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Just a bit ago, I asked DD (newly 6) to keep a close eye on the puppy while I ran a bead of caulk in the shower. The puppy was sleeping on the kitchen floor at the time and I told DD to just get some toys or a book and hang out near the dog while she slept. DD knows to let the dog out immediately when she is sniffing the floor and has shown me she is able to do this (she has also watched the dog before just fine and her dad and I are both home all day with her).

Instead of watching the dog like I asked, she decided her 4 year old brother could do the job and went to go and play on the computer (which she has been doing for most of the day already). As I was finishing up and scrubbing caulk off my hands, DD tells me that the dog pooped on the floor outside of my bedroom and then told me it was my fault because I left my door open.
I made DD pick up the poop (in a bag) and throw it in the garbage and then I sent her outside with the dog while I scrubbed the carpet. Now dinner is very very late and our house smells horrible, so my appetite is gone, anyway.

I'm super angry about the whole situation. Obviously, I will just put the dog in the crate next time because DD has shown me she is not reliable.
I did take away the computer because it's not fair to me or the dog that she was not let outside on time.
Am I way off base here?
Is asking her to keep an eye on the dog too much responsibility?

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#2 of 22 Old 06-16-2010, 08:32 PM
 
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Puppies are a ton of work and accidents happen.

That said, I think a 6yo should be able to come tell a parent before leaving a responsibility. Maybe making it clear that she needs to tell you instead of just transferring responsibility to her brother would help -- she may have thought that as long as someone was watching the puppy, everything was okay (without realizing that a 4yo might not recognize "gotta-go" cues).

Was your DD given a choice about watching the puppy? If she didn't want to I wouldn't make her.

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#3 of 22 Old 06-16-2010, 08:34 PM
 
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6 year olds can do things like: Take the dog out (now), feed the dog (now), etc, but things that require paying attention for long periods of time and THEN acting are very very difficult for that age (and for a few years to come). I hope I explained that okay. They are so distractible and forgetful, and when something like a computer game gets their attention, its hopeless to expect them to be able to turn their attention away voluntarily before they are ready to stop. Its also probably not realistic for a 6 year old to have the insight to know "if I start playing computer games I will not remember to take care of the dog."

Setting her up like you did, with games and books and things for when the dog wakes seems doable. Its only for 30 minutes and maybe a timer might have helped (maybe not). But the way you set it up, it seems to me many 6 year olds could do what you asked.
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#4 of 22 Old 06-16-2010, 08:39 PM
 
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I think your daughter has clearly shown that she's too young for that responsibility. But at least she didn't just leave the dog totally unattended. To me, that shows a level of responsibility, just not quite enough for the situation. It probably seemed reasonable in her mind to leave the 4 yo in charge.
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#5 of 22 Old 06-16-2010, 08:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks mamas. I will definitely remind her that she needs to come to me or her dad before leaving any job she's given.
She's watched the dog before and stuck with it fine, so it kind of threw me that she wandered off (but, in the past, I was always in the room with her making dinner or whatever). I'll have to reassess and make sure that DD can completely handle a job before I hand over a responsibility.

Limabean- If she had a choice, she'd watch tv and eat junk food all day long and never help with anything (me too ). We have had to tell her that contributing is necessary.

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#6 of 22 Old 06-16-2010, 09:25 PM
 
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Lots going on here - thanks for seeking clarity!

We have a now 1.5 yr old dog that we got as a puppy last year (kids 4,6, and 8 then). There is no way I would leave the kids in charge of the puppy for many reasons. A puppy needs really close attention and correct handling/training or you are putting yourself in a position to fix mistakes. It is a tough job and not fair to ask kids to do it (to join in training, yes, 100%, but to be responsible, no). There are LOTS of good books on the subject and the Pets forum here at mothering.com has a lot of great advice.

As you now see, a crate is a blessing when training a puppy for many reasons. I can't recommend one highly enough.

Honestly, I did not leave the puppy alone with my kids either (who are not trouble makers). Puppies make mistakes just as kids do and their mistakes can be bad (growling, biting, etc). The puppy was our full responsibility for 3 months, and then, slowly, it became easier to let her loose with the kids when we were clear she knew her place (good thing in a dog's world) and the kids knew how to listen to her.

I said there is a lot going on here. You seem frustrated with the amount of computer time your child had and how she shrugged off a responsibility to get more. That should be separated and talked about another time, so she know what you expect.

And, please use some kind of enzyme on the carpet. It will help the smell a lot, but more importantly will hide the scent from the puppy and make it easier not to make the same mistake there again.

Good luck!
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#7 of 22 Old 06-16-2010, 09:41 PM
 
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I think so. How old is the puppy?

Our's is 5 months and is pretty well housebroken so I wouldn't think much about having my 8 year old watch her for a little while. But even at his age, I'd have to make it clear that he isn't to leave the dog alone, that he would need to actually stay with her.

Having said that, I even miss cues that she needs to go out. Puppies are hard, even for adults. I think that maybe it was just too long of a time for her to watch the puppy and she probably thought having someone else do it would be fine.
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#8 of 22 Old 06-16-2010, 09:43 PM
 
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Originally Posted by BellinghamCrunchie View Post
6 year olds can do things like: Take the dog out (now), feed the dog (now), etc, but things that require paying attention for long periods of time and THEN acting are very very difficult for that age (and for a few years to come). I hope I explained that okay. They are so distractible and forgetful, and when something like a computer game gets their attention, its hopeless to expect them to be able to turn their attention away voluntarily before they are ready to stop. Its also probably not realistic for a 6 year old to have the insight to know "if I start playing computer games I will not remember to take care of the dog."

Setting her up like you did, with games and books and things for when the dog wakes seems doable. Its only for 30 minutes and maybe a timer might have helped (maybe not). But the way you set it up, it seems to me many 6 year olds could do what you asked.
I agree with this. Sorry about the accident, we've dealt with something similar recently, and it is gross.
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#9 of 22 Old 06-16-2010, 09:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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almama- I'm on my second bottle of Nature's Miracle. I love that stuff. I've even been using it to get the cat pee out of the carpet from the previous tenants (ugh).
You're right that I was annoyed that DD spent so much time on the computer already. It was the poop on the carpet that really got to me. Frankly, I rarely care if she's on it for hours on end because she's pretty good at self regulating. DH really hates it and wants me to "do something" about it. Ah layers upon layers.
We homeschool as well and just moved here a month ago, so I have a LOT of organizing to do yet. I also own a business. I'm more than a little overwhelmed and I think it is clouding my perspective. Did I mention I have never had a dog before? I wasn't totally prepared, but here we are and she's a member of our family now.
I will check out the pet forum here (thanks!) and I'll just remember to make sure the puppy is with either DH or myself only for training. My logic was simply that the puppy was sleeping and therefore not too much hassle. So so wrong. Ah well.

Next time the sleeping puppy goes straight into the crate.

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#10 of 22 Old 06-16-2010, 10:01 PM
 
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i think your dd did a great job. she knew she was supposed to take care of the job. she didnt want to do it so she left somebody in charge adn went off to do her own thing. i think that's great thinking on her part. the only thing she didnt factor in is that bro was too young. or if the dog hadnt pooped she might have got away with it.

so in that sense just by itself it was a great learning experience.

however is a 6 year old ready for that. depends so much on the child. at 6 my dd would not be able to watch a puppy for half hour but she could make you tea, toast adn fried eggs cooked by her in a frying pan.

i think she is ready. the only thing you need to make clear for her is that if you ask HER to do the job SHE has to do it and not pass it on to somebody else.

so there is a huge learning lesson for her here. and if she is anything like my dd, she would much prefer the responsibility rather than see it as a job she has to do.

if i plain ask dd to do something she doesnt want to do it. but i request her if she could help me it would be great she happily does it. i always appeal to her 'helpful' self. i make a request she does it. i make it a command and she wont do it.

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#11 of 22 Old 06-16-2010, 10:03 PM
 
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I think 6 is way too young for you to expect her to watch a puppy for half an hour.

She definitely did not deserve a punishment for that.
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#12 of 22 Old 06-16-2010, 11:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks again for all the input!

Riversky- Perhaps you are right, but it's too late for regrets. I felt it was appropriate at the time for DD to get off of the computer and help me clean up the mess and watch the dog outside (to make sure puppy isn't sad being out alone but the yard is fenced in and she does fine). DH was working in his office and DS is just way too young (and somewhat delayed) to help.

It's interesting to me that there are such a wide variety of answers to my query. We are reading Little House on the Prairie right now and DD and I talk a lot about how well behaved those kids are and how much they help around the house. Granted, they were spanked and behaved somewhat out of fear, but they also seemed to WANT to help out and be a part of the whole. We are working toward this and I do give my kids jobs to do as often as possible. Mostly little stuff, but it works for now.
I was raised by a single mother who worked an insane amount of hours and was responsible for a great deal at 6 (like making my own breakfast and lunch and getting myself off to school). It's sometimes difficult for me to judge what exactly I can or should expect from my kids.

If I didn't have MDC to bounce thoughts and ideas back, life would be a lot more difficult for me. I really do appreciate all the various perspectives. It gives me a lot to think about and possibly see where I need to make adjustments.

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#13 of 22 Old 06-17-2010, 12:40 AM
 
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I don't want to seem cynical, but Little House on the Prairie is fiction. It didn't ever really work that a child was spoken to sternly by a dad cleaning a bear gun and learned something important. Kids have never learned a single thing well in a single lesson. They learn things over and over again, time after time.

It's not a question of asking if a 6 yo is too young or too old. It's helping your kid and puppy to learn to live together in your house. With you. When you get right down to it, it's asking three (or more?) different beings how they want to manage their relationship.

I have a dog who would rather die than shit on the carpet. And I have kids who hate picking up poop in the dog approved corner of the backyard, but who do it because they love the dog. I also do it because I love the dog. But blaming the kids because the dog's not trained? Sorry. That's up to the adults.
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#14 of 22 Old 06-17-2010, 01:57 AM
 
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Six is way to young to watch a baby animal for any significant amount of time. Even if it was something that many kids can do, it is obviously not something she can do at this point. I find it easier to compare my dd to her abilities based on what I know about her rather than what I wish she would do because I think other kids are doing it. Usually other kids aren't even doing what I think all kids except mine can do. I suggest an apology to your dd if you haven't already given her one. I remember my mom forcing me to pick up dog poop with a shovel when I was that age and I will not do it to this day. I think you should explain how little you knew about dogs and accept the blame by telling her you made a mistake. Also, Little House on the Prarie is a fiction series, you get it from the fiction area in the library. Real life doesn't work out like books and tv.
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#15 of 22 Old 06-17-2010, 02:59 AM
 
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Limabean- If she had a choice, she'd watch tv and eat junk food all day long and never help with anything (me too ). We have had to tell her that contributing is necessary.
Oh, I didn't mean she should have a choice about whether to contribute to the family at all, I just meant about watching the dog in particular. Being responsible for another living thing, especially one as unpredictable and needy as a puppy, is a big deal, and IMO if she's not ready for it that's okay.

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#16 of 22 Old 06-17-2010, 11:09 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Okay, I understand completely that Little House on the Prairie is fiction. It was based off of her life and made "more interesting" plus her daughter Rose rewrote everything to flow better. I'm not going off on a tangent here. I just said we used it as a discussion point.

I never would have asked DD to watch the dog if the dog hadn't been sleeping in the first place. She knew she just had to let the dog out to the back yard. Honestly, this wasn't outside the realm of jobs she's been given in the past as far as attention span goes. I have already discussed with DH that he or I are to always be with the puppy and the kids cannot be alone with her (and he thinks that's a bit much but he also has never owned a puppy).

I know it's very easy to sit in judgment of other parents when they are posting on the internet. I came here to ask because I was upset about the whole situation and wanted to know if this job seemed insurmountable. Obviously, I made a poor decision by asking her to help with the puppy.
I don't think it was a poor choice to ask her to help clean up the mess because the dog belongs to all of us and even if it's my job to watch the dog (or DH's), DD helps by cleaning up after the dog just like we do (because she ASKS and not because we are telling her she has no choice).
Yesterday, (for the first time) I TOLD her to clean up the poo and throw it away and then I spent 10 minutes cleaning the carpet.
I didn't blame DD for the dog pooping. Dogs do that. She does know that if the dog isn't watched and responded to, there will be poop or pee in the house.

A lot of important lessons have been learned and we have all moved on over here. The dog is sitting next to me on the floor right now with a kong full of frozen peanut butter and dog treats so that I can keep her a foot away while I post. DD and I have talked about the situation and agreed that any dog jobs will be mine or DH's unless she asks and is capable.

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#17 of 22 Old 06-17-2010, 11:42 AM
 
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Frozen kongs are the best. My dog also liked them filled with frozen yogurt (that is, frozen regular yogurt, not the ice-cream-like confection ), or even frozen green beans with a little PB to plug the opening.

When she was a puppy, it was SO hard, and that was before we even had kids! I can't imagine raising a puppy with two young kids in the house. I remember I used to tie my pup's leash to my waist so that I knew she'd be right next to me at all times -- they're so fast and sneaky!

Anyway, I think it was a perfectly reasonable thing to ask your DD to do -- I can see myself having done the same if I had had a 6-year-old when our dog was a pup. As you've said, though, you've learned that for your particular girl at this particular time, she's just not ready. Sounds like you've implemented some good measures for now.

How old is the pup? IME, the first 8-12 months are really demanding and frustrating at times. I'm sure throwing kids into the mix only compounds all that!

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#18 of 22 Old 06-17-2010, 11:52 AM
 
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It sounds as if you are doing great things now. One thing about dogs - it is important to do training when the dog is a puppy (and involve kids) because dogs go through an adolescence (roughly 12-2 yrs - period depends on breed) when, just like kids, they do what they want to do. You just have to train through it, using the skills that you taught when they were puppies, and you'll end up with an amazing dog at the end. (Adolescence is a big time for dogs to be brought to shelters because they become hard for many people to handle - they are not prepared for it).
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#19 of 22 Old 06-17-2010, 07:17 PM
 
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My mother's rules for dog-watching and kids: a 7-year-old can supervise an adult dog outdoors in a fenced yard, or feed and give water to an adult dog (assuming the dog is well-behaved). A 9-year-old can walk a dog around a quiet neighborhood, or watch a dog unsupervised for 30 minutes as you described. A 13-year-old can do most dog-related chores, including for puppies and old dogs. I don't know where she got those rules or if they are just family tradition or what, but that was what she always did.
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#20 of 22 Old 06-18-2010, 01:26 AM
 
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I think it's a reasonable task for a 6 year old, but only if you take a few minutes of prep time to set her up for success. Make sure the dog can't leave the tile/linoleum/whatever hard, easy clean surface you have (or better yet, out in the yard if you can), in case DD loses her attention. State specifically that this task is not to be delegated to little brother. Set her up with an activity in the same room as the dog that is entertaining but not engrossing, like coloring or playdoh or something, but not TV, reading, or computer games, so she is less likely to want to leave the room. Handling responsibility successfully is a great way for kids to feel good about themselves and want to take on more, but it can be so easy to set them up for failure. Think about what pitfalls are most likely to cause her to fail, and address those issues before her task starts.

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#21 of 22 Old 06-18-2010, 02:45 PM
 
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fwiw when i was 6 i was watching my baby sister for 30 min at a time while my mom made supper. I think that while you might have checked in with her half way through to make sure she didn't need a bathroom break or something, your expectations were not out of line at all.

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#22 of 22 Old 06-18-2010, 04:26 PM
 
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Thanks again for all the input!

Riversky- Perhaps you are right, but it's too late for regrets. I felt it was appropriate at the time for DD to get off of the computer and help me clean up the mess and watch the dog outside (to make sure puppy isn't sad being out alone but the yard is fenced in and she does fine). DH was working in his office and DS is just way too young (and somewhat delayed) to help.

It's interesting to me that there are such a wide variety of answers to my query. We are reading Little House on the Prairie right now and DD and I talk a lot about how well behaved those kids are and how much they help around the house. Granted, they were spanked and behaved somewhat out of fear, but they also seemed to WANT to help out and be a part of the whole. We are working toward this and I do give my kids jobs to do as often as possible. Mostly little stuff, but it works for now.
I was raised by a single mother who worked an insane amount of hours and was responsible for a great deal at 6 (like making my own breakfast and lunch and getting myself off to school). It's sometimes difficult for me to judge what exactly I can or should expect from my kids.

If I didn't have MDC to bounce thoughts and ideas back, life would be a lot more difficult for me. I really do appreciate all the various perspectives. It gives me a lot to think about and possibly see where I need to make adjustments.
FWIW, I think what made this task challenging was that it didn't need her to do anything initially, just pay attention. I bet that she'd do a whole lot better watching a puppy who was awake. If this is something you'd like her to do regularly, you might work up to it, first by having her watch the puppy for 10 minutes, and then 20...

IME, kids do want to be productive members of the family, and won't spend all day watching TV and eating junk food. It doesn't feel good to live that way, KWIM?
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