How Dogs are Helping Children with ADHD
Dog owners around the world love to profess the benefits of having a dog, from increased exercise, increased resistance to allergies to helping to teach their children responsibility.
And while some of these claims are backed up by scientific research, more specific uses for dogs are less researched.
But researchers from the University of California aimed to examine how, when combined with the more common place Cognitive Behavioural Interventions the use of dogs (Canine Assisted Interventions) could be beneficial for children with ADHD.
The team behind the research split participants into two groups, both groups were given the cognitive behavioural intervention but one group in addition used a canine assistance intervention:
It was hypothesized both groups would show improvements in prosocial skills and reduced problematic behaviors, and that treatment effects would be greater for children in the canineassisted group (CAI).
While this was a preliminary study the researchers were able to gain support for their main hypothesis:
Findings from this preliminary study provide initial support for the efficacy of a cognitive-behavioral group treatment enhanced with humane education for children with ADHD and social impairments.
That is to say that both of the groups studied showed improvements in the children’s social skills. Significantly though the children who’s intervention included canine-assistance showed even greater improvements:
children who received the Canine-Assisted Intervention model exhibited greater reductions in the severity of their ADHD symptoms than did children who received the enhanced cognitive-behavioral therapy
This improvement was seen as early as week 4 of the 12 week intervention period.
Overall, these results suggest that a Canine-Assisted Intervention offers a novel therapeutic strategy that may enhance traditional evidence-based interventions for children with impairment from the core symptoms of ADHD