We've looked at how using dogs as reading companions can help struggling readers gain skills and confidence. And we've shared how psychotherapists are using dogs in their therapy practices to help their young patients.
Now, a new randomized controlled study (the "gold standard" of how research is conducted) has found that children with ADHD who received Canine-Assisted Interventions (CAI) with a certified therapy dog significantly improved attention and social skills and exhibited fewer behavior problems after only eight weeks. Of note, hyperactivity and impulsivity were not affected. The study, from researchers at the University of California, Irvine, involved 88 children ages 7-9, none of whom had taken medication to treat their attention difficulties. Both the CAI group and the control group received standard behavioral interventions for their ADHD and the control group did improve with these (as did the CAI group), but the children in the CAI group did better and improved more quickly (eight weeks vs. 12 weeks) than those without canine support.
While it is not a cure-all, families whose children have ADHD might consider a certified therapy dog in conjunction with more standard behavioral interventions for their children.
Photo by Andy Omvik on Unsplash