Dogs & ADHD: Are They A Perfect Match?


Children and adults who have been diagnosed with ADHD often have a different school experience than others.  Sometimes, they might feel left out, picked on, have low self-esteem, and have anxiety issues.  How can a friendly fido help?

1.  Stress

Stress can mount quickly on someone with ADHD.  Why?  Because no matter how hard they try to get things done, meet a deadline, be on time, or remember everything they need, it’s easy to fall short of those expectations.  When someone is stressed, symptoms of the disorder become more prominent.  Spending time with a dog (or pet) can lower their cortisol (stress hormones) and blood pressure, thus making them feel relaxed and less stressed.  

2.  Self-esteem

Self-esteem seems to be harder to gain at school.  Bullying, social cliques, and demanding schedules make it difficult for any student to feel good about themselves.  Owning a dog can help someone gain their self-esteem because dogs are non-judgmental and have unconditional love for their owner.  They don’t care if you forgot to take the trash out or bombed a presentation at work.  They just need the basics and crave your love and attention.  Also, simply knowing one is taking great care of their pet can boost their self-esteem.

3.  Socialization

Kids diagnosed with ADHD aren’t always a model for learning how to socialize with others.  Having a dog offers children and adults more opportunity (than someone without a dog) to socialize with other people.  Taking a dog on a walk increases the chances one will run into someone who likes dogs or has their dog on a walk as well.  This automatically opens up an easy conversation for both parties who have something in common.  This interaction is especially beneficial for kids and adults who have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder because it gives them practice socializing with others about something they know a lot about (their dog)

4.  Development

Although dogs are a huge responsibility for families, they are also a great learning experience for kids.  Taking care of a dog encourages children to focus on the responsibilities with a predictable routine.  Dogs also help kids with their emotional development.  Kids who love and care for their dog are typically able to express themselves more clearly and relate to others easier.

Dogs are a huge financial and time consuming responsibility and should be considered when deciding if a pet is right for your family.  Owning a dog is not a cure for any disorder, but may help offset symptoms.

The Broach School of Jacksonville is committed to serving our students to prepare them for the future.  This year, Pit Sisters came to one of our campuses to talk to the kids about pet ownership, dog breeds, and answer questions.  Our students even got the opportunity to meet their therapy dog, Nala.  The kids loved the experience and immediately were drawn to her.  We hope to continue working with Pit Sisters in the future to bring a therapeutic experience for our students.

The dog in the photo is a 2 year old Pitbull named Cali owned by the author of this article :)

We would love to hear from you- comment below to keep the conversation going!


Posted by Shelley Causey

Shelley is the Director of Technology at The Broach School of Jacksonville and lead content contributor to the Broach Buzz Blog. She has a Bachelor's degree in Special Education and a Master's degree in Instructional Technology. Shelley is passionate about empowering parents with resources for children with disabilities and assisting new families learn more about scholarship schools. In addition to the blog, Shelley manages the social media accounts for all of The Broach School company pages.

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