The Benefits of Having an ADHD Service Dog

Living with a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can pose many challenges, particularly with regards to concentration, focus, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. For many people, medication and other interventions can help manage symptoms, but there is an alternative treatment that is gaining in popularity and effectiveness — having an ADHD service dog.

What is an ADHD service dog?

An ADHD service dog is a specially trained service animal that provides support, companionship, and assistance to individuals living with ADHD. These dogs receive extensive training to assist people with the condition in managing their symptoms, offering practical support and emotional stability.

How can an ADHD service dog help?

The benefits of an ADHD service dog can vary from person to person, depending on the severity of their ADHD symptoms. However, many who have this kind of dog have vast attestations to its positive effects in their lives. Here are some of the common ways that an ADHD service dog can help:

1. Provide Emotional Support

Living with ADHD can be overwhelming, and it can bring about feelings of anxiety, depression, and isolation. Luckily, ADHD service dogs are trained to provide not just practical assistance but emotional support to their handlers. Dogs offer unconditional love, companionship, and a sense of safety, which can help manage feelings of anxiety and depression.

2. Increase Focus and Attention

ADHD is often characterized by difficulties in sustaining attention, concentrating for prolonged periods, and staying on task. However, trained service dogs can be taught to assist their handlers with these difficulties. Service dogs can help redirect attention, increase focus, and maintain discipline, which are invaluable when doing schoolwork, studying, or even during meetings at work.

3. Promote Self-Regulation

Many people living with ADHD struggle with impulsivity and self-control. However, ADHD service dogs can be trained to peer their handler’s behavior, disrupting negative impulses or behaviors. For instance, when the personal becomes distracted or agitated, the dog will nudge or lick them to promote self-awareness and self-regulation.

4. Offer Assistance During Emergencies

ADHD service dogs can be trained to perform various physical tasks, including dialing an emergency number, getting help, and providing any required assistance such as picking up dropped items. This can prove incredibly useful for individuals experiencing a medical emergency or an episode of anxiety.

Choosing an ADHD Service Dog

To experience the above benefits of an ADHD service dog, it is vital to choose an animal that is well matched to the individual’s needs.

Most ADHA service dogs are Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, or standard Poodles. These breeds are sociable, intelligent, and receptive to training, making them well suited to this type of work. Additionally, dogs from animal shelters or breed-specific rescue organizations can still qualify for ADHA service dog training, offering a more cost-efficient route for those who cannot afford to buy a fully trained service dog.

Training an ADHD Service Dog

When selecting a service dog, it is necessary to choose a dog that has undergone extensive training specific to ADHD service dogs. Ideally, the dog should be trained to enact behaviors and tasks, including the following:

  • Responding to cues
  • Picking up objects when dropped
  • Providing stability during walks
  • Alerting handlers to important sounds or events
  • Blocking crowds
  • Waking up handlers after night terrors
  • Training the dog to perform tasks specific to the handlers individual needs.

ADHD service dog training programs are intensive, typically taking anywhere from 2-3 years to complete. Once the training is complete, the dog must be certified by the relevant authorities to qualify as an ADHD service dog.

Legal Rights of ADHD Service Dog Handlers

In Australia, individuals with a diagnosed disability have the legal right to use an assistance animal. ADHD is considered a disability under the law in Australia, which means individuals with a diagnosis of ADHD have the legal right to keep an ADHD service dog.

Handlers can encounter difficulties with their dogs in certain environments or in rental properties, but they have considerable rights under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. The act states that assistance animals must be admitted to public places and accommodation unless it is inappropriate due to health considerations.

Conclusion

ADHD service dogs can be incredible assets for individuals living with ADHD, offering emotional support, improved attention and focus, regulation, and assistance in case of medical emergencies. However, choosing and training an ADHA service dog takes significant investment– training can take 2-3years, and handlers must undergo assessments to certify their ADHA service dog skills. Once certified, handlers a disability under the law; they have the legal right to have an ADHD service dog, and their animal must be admitted to public places and accommodation much like other assistance animals. Nevertheless, many handlers find that the positive impacts of having an ADHD service dog outweigh the cost of training and certification, offering another option to help manage the condition’s associated symptoms.

FAQs

What is an ADHD service dog?

An ADHD service dog is a highly trained dog that assists individuals with ADHD in different ways. These dogs can help control impulsiveness, provide a calming presence during anxiety attacks, alert their owners when they forget something, and provide comfort during emotional distress.

What breeds are suitable to become ADHD service dogs?

The most common breeds used as ADHD service dogs include Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, poodles, and German shepherds. However, breed is not the most critical factor in selecting an ADHD service dog. Instead, a dog’s temperament, behavior, training, and willingness to learn are essential factors in determining if it is suitable for the job.

How to train an ADHD service dog?

Training an ADHD service dog requires patience, consistency, and specialized skills from professional dog trainers. The training focuses on teaching the dog how to be a reliable companion for its owner by performing specific tasks and providing emotional support. The training can take up to two years, depending on the dog’s progress and the owner’s needs, and it requires regular maintenance and reinforcement to keep the dog’s skills sharp.


References

1. **O’Haire, M. E., McKenzie, S. J., & McCune, S. (2014). Service dogs in the workplace: A systematic review of the literature. International Journal of Workplace Health Management, 7(4), 226-245.** Retrieved from

2. **Lloyd, J. K., & Finnerty, K. (2017). Assistance dogs for children with autism spectrum disorders: Benefits, challenges and future directions. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 47(11), 3572-3581.** Retrieved from

3. **Prothmann, A., Bienert, M., & Ettrich, C. (2019). The social support of assistance dogs for children with ADHD. Anthrozoös, 32(2), 273-285.** Retrieved from