Study Finds That Therapy Dogs Can Be Helpful in Reducing ADHD Symptoms in Kids
People have service dogs for a variety of conditions, from epilepsy to mobility issues. Service dogs are trained to perform tasks and work with their specific handler’s needs and disabilities. Therapy dogs are not technically service animals in that they’re not trained to work with one specific person. Instead, therapy dogs are trained to provide psychological or physiological therapy to a variety of people. These dogs may visit hospitals, schools, and treatment centers to give comfort and support to people in need. Studies have shown that therapy animals can be effective at reducing stress and anxiety in people. In fact, a new study has found that these animals can even help reduce ADHD symptoms in children.
In a first of its kind study, researchers have found that therapy dogs are able to lessen the symptoms of ADHD in kids.
The randomized trial was conducted by researchers at the University of Southern California Irvine School of Medicine. The trial involved children between the ages of 7 and 9 who’ve been diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The kids in the trial had never taken medication to manage their ADHD. Researchers randomized the kids into two groups. One group underwent evidence-based psychosocial interventions. The other group underwent the same interventions, augmented by the support of certified therapy dogs.
The results of the study indicated that the kids who received intervention from the therapy dogs in addition to traditional interventions showed a reduction in inattention. Additionally, the kids also showed an improvement in social skills.
After 12 weeks, both groups of kids showed saw a reduction in their ADHD symptoms with the traditional interventions. However, the group who was assisted by therapy dogs saw improvements as soon as eight weeks into the trial. Furthermore, they also had fewer behavioral problems. Hyperactivity and impulsivity did not seem to improve with the therapy dog intervention.
Therapy dogs do a lot of good for a lot of people, and this study is a breakthrough for parents and experts looking for ways to manage their kid’s ADHD.
(Image: iStock/Laura Fay)