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I know some others have already broached the subject, but I was going to mention that in this house we have 3 children (ages 9, 12 and 13) and 3 dogs (the bassets are 2 years old and my mother's dog is 6) ... my children have been sharing the common yard area with animals since my mother got her dog (and before when I had a different dog) and especially now that we're all in the same house.

Anyway, I used to be the one out there with the scooper when the kids were younger, but once they got old enough to point it out and realize they didn't like stepping in it... then I figured they were old enough to help with the "Poop Patrol". At first they would walk the yard with me and point it out and I would be the one to pick it up.

Now they are considerably older though, the job has been becoming more and more their responsibility. Because I have the three kids they each take turns, they get their own specific day ... but the catch is, while one does the actual "patrol" afterward the other two get to walk the yard to check.

We found they actually did a better job that way, they find bits there's no way my mother or I would have complained about or in some cases even seen. *lol*

The two that do the checking have been known to go behind the cherry trees and under bushes looking for the tiniest bit to be able to say "You missed one over here!" *hehe* The thing is, then they know when it's their own turn they do a very good job otherwise the one they caught before will be the one to triumphantly yell "you missed one!".

Also we made it into a kind of a game. We made a "Poop Patrol" Badge with a vest and hat and bought a long handled scooper that has a bag attachment with a long handled shovel so they don't even have to get too close to the poops to scoop em up. Until we came up with a schedule for the kids they actually used to argue about who's turn it was ... they WANTED to do it. ("My turn!", "No! Mine!") Imagine the looks on neighbours faces hearing the kids arguing that way about scoopig poo! (Instead of "It's YOUR turn!, "No, yours!").

Anyway I guess what all this ramble was about was that in my oppinion, if they're old enough to notice it, they're old enough to help with it. *lol*

Although, I must admit we still did section off a bit of the side yard for a place to put the dogs while we're working in the gardens or if we have a lot of guests over for a bbq etc... also some parents when they bring their kids over get kind of nervous with three dogs that weigh about 65 pounds each running around, so as a curtesy we put the dogs in the side yard at times.

Oh, one other thing, when the kids do poop patrol they don't have to do the side yard, that's strictly "doggy area" ... and a benefit we noticed from that is over time the dogs seem to be getting the idea they can do their business in there... and there's been less and less in the main areas of the back yard because the dogs have been going in the side section themselves.

So you might find a benefit from sectioning off an area of the yard for the dogs as well as getting the kidlets to help with the upkeep of the main area of the yard. Personally I think it's good for them as well to help with everything that goes with owning an animal... they learn some responsibilities and realize pets aren't just fluffy critters for their amusement but actually require a good deal of care (other than just feeding).

Anyhow, sorry for the lengthy post *heh* Hope that helps a bit though.
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