According to a new study, therapy dogs are effective at reducing the severity of symptoms in those with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of California – Irvine (UCI), examined the effects of therapy dogs on children with ADHD. The study’s participants, ages 7 through 9, were placed into either a control group or an experimental group that received support from a therapy dog. Participants in both groups received evidence-based psychosocial interventions according to current best practices. None of the participants had previously received pharmaceutical treatment.
The results of the study suggest that therapy dogs, when used in conjunction with other psychosocial interventions, improve attentiveness and social skills. While participants in both groups experienced improvements in symptom severity over the course of 12 weeks, the children who were paired with therapy dogs saw an improvement in symptoms after just eight weeks.
“Our finding that dogs can hasten the treatment response is very meaningful. In addition, the fact that parents of the children who were in the CAI group reported significantly fewer problem behaviors over time than those treated without therapy dogs is further evidence of the importance of this research.”
— Sabrina E. B. Schuck, Executive Director, UCI Child Development Center
The results of the study are published in the Human-Animal Interaction Bulletin.