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Dog Care MB

So I have a young man that is wanting to earn this Merit badge however, he does not have a dog, and family will not get one. The family does have cats and that is where my question comes in. If he does all the requirements except for the one that states he needs to care for the dog and track its info such as food, weight, bathing, … and subs in a cat for that requirement would it be ok? The way I understand the rules is modifications can be made to badge as long as it is still fulfilling the requirement. So with that said I believe that he would fulfill that requirement just be a different animal that he is caring for.

He could take care of a friend’s / neighbor’s dog. The animal the Scout takes care of does not necessarily be your own.

But there is a Pets merit badge, which is for all pets. I would have him do that one instead.


I’m not a dog care MBC, but I’d think of that were ok, it would be called pet care instead. Also, requirements have to be completed as written without modification.

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Pets merit badge

@edavignon I leave this in your hands LOL

This is from the BSA’s COVID-19 FAQ page:

Q: Can merit badge requirements be adapted since some elements can’t be completed as stated right now?
The published guidelines for the methodology of the merit badge program and the role of the merit badge counselor is found in the Guide to Advancement, Section It is important to remember that leaders and merit badge counselors must not make additions or deletions to requirements. The Scout is expected to meet the requirements as stated; however, in some cases, virtual “visits” may fulfill the intent of a requirement. When the requirement’s intent cannot be reached virtually, the requirements cannot be completed, and the Scout must wait to complete that badge/requirement. Merit badge counselors signing off on requirements must determine to the best of their ability if the Scout has demonstrated the intended outcome.
All existing youth protection policies and digital safety guidelines must be followed.

I am a Dog Care Merit Badge Counselor. I personally would not allow the substitution of a cat in place of a dog.

As Jennifer said, he could care for someone else’s dog to meet the requirements. The pets merit badge would be appropriate for a cat.


@JenniferOlinger, I’m not sure how the conditions for managing MB counseling during a pandemic apply to specific requirements for Dog Care or Pets.
@DavidRudaitis, Being able to take care your dog, or a neighbor’s dog, or a dog at a rescue shelter is the skill that we are after. If taking care of someone’s piranha would give them that skill, substitution would be valid.
Now, I had a couple of cats over the years who thought they were dogs (especially the one raised by a rottweiler). And treating them as such didn’t seem to bother them. But, if you treated a dog like one usually treats cats, you would have a mess on your hands within a day!

@Qwazse The reason I posted it is because there have been several posts in the forums recently about modifying requirements due to the current pandemic. The BSA has made some temporary modifications as described in the COVID-19 FAQs, but otherwise, Scouts in the Scouts BSA program are still expected to meet the requirements as written.

If a Scout only has a cat, but is interested in earning the Dog Care merit badge, then I would encourage the Scout to take a look at the Pets merit badge instead. Without access to a dog, I don’t see how a Scout could complete requirements 4 or 5.

Here’s the key point, IMNSHO… What about completing the merit badge would have to change to do it while social distancing? Camping is a clear example – you can’t camp with your unit while there are stay-home orders in place, so a reasonable accommodation is “camp with your family, and FaceTime your leaders to show you’re actually doing the camping”.

What requirement for the Dog Care MB would normally be achievable, but is not strictly due to the current pandemic?

I’ve always heard rather the opposite of this. No requirement (merit badge or otherwise) may be modified from the exact terms in which BSA national has defined it, except in accordance with an approved individual scout advancement plan.

ETA: I should clarify that this is for the Scouts BSA program. At the Cub Scout level, the standard is for the Cub Scout to do his or her best to fulfill the requirement. There’s a lot more exposition on all of this in the Guide to Advancement.


As a Dog Care merit badge counselor (& Advancement Chair), I would not allow caring for a cat as a substitute for caring for a dog. The BSA advancement guidelines should come to play here. There is a “Pets” merit badge which is more applicable. Also mentioned, your scout could foster a dog or volunteer at a shelter caring for a dog, keeping track for the thirty days. Ultimately, the Dog Care merit badge counselor assigned to your scout will make that call.

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Always enjoy your replies.
Now, if you could get the cat to bark and respond to commands like a dog, might that count. It would be impressive.
Not too sure why the question even is asked. Soumds like a kid who wants to get as many mb as possible. Might be time to ask them about intent.
And, Pets does sound like the right, and only, way to go. Would be interesting to know if the kid already has that one.


I actually had a friend who taught his cat to sit, lie down and fetch on command. lol

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I don’t know what’s in the requirements for dog care, but couldn’t they work with a local rescue or maybe volunteer at a humane group to help fulfill the requirements?

Yep, volunteering at an animal shelter could be an excellent way to earn this badge. However, requirement 4 would be fairly demanding:

For two months, keep and care for your dog.

As a scout, I would take that to mean that at least one dog that would be assigned to me, and I would have to visit that shelter for each feeding, exercise, and grooming session. I would have to weigh it weekly and help in the charting process.

The shelter might offer some advantages because they might have a structure for logging all of those details. The obvious disadvantage is that the scout would need to figure out transportation, and would need to coordinate with a lot of people besides his folks. But, in doing all that, the scout might gain some unique leadership skills.


Exactly! This is the requirements of Dog Care merit badges!

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