Dogs have been known as man’s best friend for tens of thousands of years – and with very good reason. Not only are they inherently loving and loyal, but they have also proven to be extremely beneficial companions to adults and children living with various medical conditions. Dogs, in fact, have the potential to be particularly advantageous when it comes to the nearly 6.4 million American children who have been diagnosed with ADHD.
What does the research say?
Research conducted at the University of California found that therapy dogs are effective in significantly reducing the symptoms of ADHD in children. The study, who’s main outcomes appear in the Human-Animal Interaction Bulletin(HAIB) involved children between the ages of seven and nine who were diagnosed with ADHD, and who had never before taken any medication for their condition. Researchers discovered that the children with ADHD who were privy to Canine Assisted Intervention (CAI) experienced not only enhanced social skills, but a noteworthy reduction in inattention as well. It was further found that, overall, ADHD symptom severity was reduced greatly over a period of twelve weeks.
Therapy dogs VS pets
While there is scientific proof that a therapy dog can benefit a child with ADHD, it is very important to not disregard the benefit of simply owning a dog as a pet. Pets, in general, can teach a child a great deal of responsibility and empathy – two skills that children with ADHD often have difficulty with. Helping to care for a dog can also boost time management skills, while providing a very healthy outlet for the excess energy that is commonly associated with ADHD. A dog can also help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, both at home and when on vacation, which is why it may be a good idea to train your dog to calmly travel in the car with you. As children with ADHD are often less likely to make a lot of friends, having a canine companion can also help minimize both loneliness and isolation.
What is the best dog breed to get?
Before bringing a dog home, it is important to conduct some thorough research with regards to what type of dog will be the best fit for your family. It is important to find a dog that is not only gentle and tolerant of children, but trainable as well. While small, delicate dogs such as Chihuahuas may not be the ideal choice for children with ADHD, a Jack Russell can make for a fun, loyal pet. Not only are they energetic and very loyal, but they are also highly intelligent, which makes them easy to train. Other popular dog breeds worth considering include Labradors, golden retrievers, Bernese mountain dogs, collies and Cavalier King Charles spaniels.
Children with ADHD can benefit from not only interacting with a therapy dog, but from having a dog as a pet as well. Apart from helping a child acquire various important skills, adopting a dog can also provide the entire family with immeasurable amounts of love and joy.