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Many children beg their parents for a dog and swear to look after it, but as soon as the excitement fades, they forget all about their tall promises.

If your child wants a dog and promises to look after it, go ahead and get one. But understand that initially, your child may be very excited and spend enough time with his pet, looking after it and taking it for walks. But after the initial burst of enthusiasm fades, your child will almost certainly try and get out of his chores.

Don't take over

Don't let him do this. If your child doesn't take the dog out for walks as he promised, don't take over. The minute your child sees that you have now taken responsibility for the pet, he will happily pass on all responsibility to you. Instead, make sure your child knows that if he doesn't look after his pet, no one else will. Your child has to ensure that your pet gets his meals on time. If you have servants at home, let your child instruct them to feed him, and set his timings. Let your child know that if he doesn't do this, no one else will.

Get a small dog

If your child wants a dog, a large dog does have its own charm, but consider opting for a small one. The problem with a large dog is that parents are often tempted to keep the dog out of certain rooms. A large dog may not be allowed to enter a bedroom or the living room for example. However, a tiny dog can generally run around all over the place without really being in the way. This increases chances of bonding. If your child's dog is with him in his room all the time, your child will naturally grow fonder and will start feeling more responsible. But if you get a large dog that is kept outside in the verandah or the garden or elsewhere all the time, your child may not really bond that well, and you will soon find that you are looking after the dog more than your child is.

Taking a dog for walks five times a day can be very inconvenient, especially if you live in a flat. In addition, all parents soon feel that they want their children to concentrate on studies, and so before long you or your servant are taking the dog for their walks.

Help him train the dog

Some people train their dogs to go to a particular spot in the house - perhaps in a bathroom or in a garden patch in the balcony. If you think this is more convenient, you could help your child train your dog to do this, so your child doesn't need to take him for a walks five times a day. But remember, no matter how busy your child, he must take out time to walk the dog at least once a day. If your child is studying, he can take the dog out in his study break.

Let your child accompany his dog to the vet every time. So many children in India don't bother to do this, and simply send their pet with their chauffeurs. This is unfair to the pet. Let your child understand that if he is not willing to invest time, love and energy in his pet, he should definitely not keep one. And if he agrees to do this - as all children do - make sure your child does not break his word.

Remember that if your child is disciplined enough to look after his pet, then he will show this discipline in many other aspects in life - which will help him in ways you cannot fathom.

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