We have a dog, her name is Chloe. Truthfully, I didn’t want a dog- ever! My kids can be persuasive and so now seven years have passed and Chloe is a part of the family and I don’t remember life without her. Because I never had any, and I mean any, contact with dogs in my childhood, I was shocked by how much personality a dog can have. Somehow while nonverbal, she communicates so much.
Chloe is distractible and can change focus and direction in a split second. She is aware of every sound and vibration in her surroundings. With her fine-tuned awareness she senses someone coming way before the rest of us. Chloe is also kind and supportive and gives companionship, emotional and mental support. She is not capable of criticizing, judging or voicing her opinions.
Scientific studies have shown having a pet results in lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, decreased anxiety and depression, decreased levels of stress in post-traumatic stress disorders, in personality disorders, phobias and results in overall improvement in mental health. Also, it is a commitment and hard work sometimes.
I have been asked over and over again…Does having a dog work with ADHD?
A symptom of ADHD is difficulty with Executive Functions which may include emotional regulation, staying organized and planning ahead. Adopting a dog requires the family to maintain a schedule: the dog needs to be fed, walked and played with on a regular basis. While the idea of creating one more schedule seems like a tedious task, it can actually create a pleasant distraction from the everyday stresses that come with work and school. It could even help with working memory and forgetfulness: if you forget to feed her, the pup is going to find a way to let you know!
For those with the hyperactivity component of ADHD, a dog provides the opportunity to walk, run, chase or even swim. After the exertion, both the dog and her humans are tired. The question is who is going to sleep first ;). Physiologically speaking, serotonin levels increase, depression and anxiety decrease, and children feel and interact better.
A dog doesn’t yell at you for doing something that is wrong, there is no criticism. They are happy when you come home, sad when you leave, and really do care about you. When children grow up with dogs, they learn to care, give compassion, self-regulate and love someone or something else.
For children and adults with ADHD who grew up as the “person who never did things on time, didn’t succeed, never got it right,” having a dog gives the opportunity to not only succeed, but to get love in return.
Yup, I became a dog person after all!