For most of my life, I have envied my friends who own dogs or cats. When my roommate went home on breaks, she would send me photos of her and her dog on walks, in her bed and just hanging out. “I will never love anyone as much as I love Rocky” she declared, “Rocky’s love is unconditional and he never bothers me like people do”.
There are numerous reasons why I, and so many others, dream of having a puppy to come home too: companionship, support and fun all the time. Interestingly, having a pet can help children and adults with ADHD reduce their symptoms and stress levels. Someone with ADHD who has a dog is receiving more than just a buddy. Pets, for people with ADHD, enables them to improve their time management skills, self esteem, ability to follow routines and more.
Pets and Time Management
People with ADHD tend to have trouble with managing their time, multi-tasking and remaining organized. Pets,for people with ADHD, can teach them to stick to the pet’s schedules like walking, feeding and bathroom breaks. With a pet, an owner cannot get out of missing the bathroom schedule and someone with ADHD will have to quickly learn to prepare for the time slots.
These new skills, like keeping track of time and managing responsibilities, can transfer over to every day life and non-pet related activities. Getting used to routine with a pet can help someone stick to a study schedule or become more timely for appointments.
Pets and Hyperactivity
People with ADHD, suffer from ‘hyperactivity’ and are usually easily distracted, struggle concentrating and need to be active. As people with ADHD mature, they learn to control their impulses better but young children with ADHD are constantly fidgeting and moving.
Owning a pet like a dog for adults and children with ADHD can help them decrease their energy levels. Running around with a dog in the park will not only get a person’s energy out but also make him or her feel happier. Exercising with your pet is good for your heart, mind and alleviating that restless feeling. Especially for children with ADHD, who often seem to run on a motor, dogs can help keep them occupied outside playing games and moving around.
Pets and Unconditional Support
People with ADHD tend to feel misunderstood or can feel isolated from their friends and family. Children with ADHD can feel criticized from their parents and adults with ADHD can feel looked down upon from their partners or friends. Having that one pet that will always love you, regardless of whether you were forgetful at work or too blunt in a conversation, can mean the world.
This can help people who have ADHD with self esteem issues feel better about themselves or help those people who feel lonely because of their symptoms. Also, walking a dog can help someone with ADHD in social situations. With a dog, people with ADHD may feel more confident talking to new people and they will approached more because of the dog. Pets for people with ADHD, can make it easier to meet new people, socialize and get outside.
Canine Assisted Intervention
Research is showing that using pets like dogs in therapy for children with ADHD can be extremely successful. In one study, children with ADHD who worked with dogs in their therapy sessions (CBT), significantly improved their attentional skills and inhibitory control.
In this type of therapy. known as “Canine Assisted Intervention”, children with ADHD read to dogs and tried to teach them skills. In the session, the children understood that they were working with a real animal and needed to pay extra close attention. Interactions with animals can be a tool that parents and child psychologists use when working with children.
Moral of the story: get a puppy!
Emotional support pets help people who struggle with a variety of mental health issues like anxiety and depression or people who feel lonely. While it is still a new idea, having a pet can help people with ADHD live happier lives and improve their mental wellness.
Out of all the random and at times strange treatment methods discussed, getting an adorable puppy does not sound too bad. Someone should definitely think carefully before deciding to adopt a dog but pets for people with ADHD, can be a positive addition to their lives.
Schuck, S. E., Emmerson, N. A., Fine, A. H., & Lakes, K. D. (2015). Canine-assisted therapy for Children with ADHD: preliminary findings from the Positive Assertive Cooperative Kids study. Journal of attention disorders, 19(2), 125-137.