Pets for kids with ADHD and ODD

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    • #84397

      My son has always wanted a dog, and I have been adamantly against it (dog hair, dog dirt, dog poo, getting up in middle of night, etc). However, we recently went to a soccer game and he had the chance to play with a sweet little puppy and he really loved it. Does anyone have a pet, or introduced a pet to their child with ADHD/ODD as a means to provide “comfort care”, or just as a special friend for the child (my son has very few friends and is bored after school and weekends.) If so, was it a good decision? Did you see any change in your child?

    • #84410

      Hi there – we have a 16 year old son with ADHD, Asperger’s, Anxiety, ODD, Pervasive Development Disorder, Sensory Processing Disorder. When he was 7 years old, and our 2nd son was 6 months old, we bought a Mini Schnauzer puppy for his birthday. They grow to be about 15-20 inches tall, 15-20 lbs in weight. They don’t shed, are hypo-allergenic (3 of us have allergies and asthma) and very intelligent. We are very happy with this breed. He has a very good, calm temperament. He’s not too big. My son could lift him up.

      We actually found that this dog helped with my son’s Aspergers – this is a Socialization Disorder where children don’t understand social cues and/or behaviour in public or private. The dog would growl if my son did something that made the dog uncomfortable (ie: squeeze him too hard or cover him with his body or blankets, etc). My son was able to learn from this dog that people also have social cues, that aren’t growling. We couldn’t believe it – but we would swear by this breed.

      In addition, dogs need lots of exercise so if your child is quite hyper then a dog might be a good choice. Mini Schnauzers definitely LOVE to run. Do some research on the breed and ask around to see if you know anyone with a similar situation.

    • #84411

      Thank you. My son is also very out of touch with social cues, so thanks for mentioning how that has helped your son.

    • #84502
      Penny Williams

      Several readers with pets weigh in on the benefits to their kids with ADHD in this article:

      Your Turn: Does a Pet Help You or Your Child Feel Better?

      Emotional support animals are becoming more and more common. And a dog will love you unconditionally, which is priceless when many people in our kids’ lives turn away from them.

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #85463

      I never had a pet growing up, so when i had kids, it was not natural to have a pet either. But after my oldest girl was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, I began my research on having pets. All the things I read pointed towards a beneficial outcome.

      Well, my kids love our pet. But…they barely interact with her. They pet her once in a while. They pay attention to her once in a while. Guess whonis having to play, clean, take to the vet, love this pet?me. Diva and I have a strong bond. She plays with me. She comforts me. She sleeps on me. Literally. She “kisses” me. She makes me smile when my kids are driving me crazy. She loves me no matter what.
      I was surprised too.
      My kids’ situation is not better. And they show no empathy or real connection…but Diva and I are tight and she is worth the extra work.

      Take care.

    • #86094

      My 8 yo son with ADHD has fears of going into rooms of the house alone. Though we don’t have a trained “therapy” dog, I have trained our dog to go through the house with my son…. and it works! He stays in the bathroom with him while he showers and roams around the house with him. It has been great!

    • #86145

      We got a dog and then trained him as an emotional support dog for our daughter with ADD and anxiety. He has helped her so much thrse past 6 years!

      If you saw your son interactive so positively with a dog, I’m sure it would make a big difference in his life to have one!

      Also, there are all sorts of dogs. You could get one that doesn’t shed and hypoallergenic. Our dog doesn’t shed much and he’s a cocker/chihuahua mix.

    • #86149

      Totally 100% yes! My son is 9, has ADHD and isn’t loving or affectionate with people (he’s actually quite cold), but he LOVES his dog, cuddles with him, plays with him and takes care of him. We adopted our dog ~9 months ago from a rescue agency that specializes in small dogs. He’s 3 years old, doesn’t bark a lot, doesn’t shed, and sleeps in a crate at night. I work from home so all I need to do is walk him a couple times a day. Finding care for him when we go away is the hardest part. I think there are dogs out there looking for homes that are super low maintenance and if you work with a reputable rescue agency, they’ll understand your needs and help find the right dog for you. I knew I didn’t have the energy or bandwidth to deal with a puppy. Good luck!!

    • #86166

      Yes, if your son loved that dog, I bet he would really benefit from a dog in the house! Our son with mild autism/ADHD/Sensory/Anxiety is now 18 and we got Gracie when he was about 6 or so. Like Ciara above, our kids didn’t do a whole lot with the dog for a long time, especially our son (our neurotypical daughter did better) but the long-run payoff has been great. Our son has grown to absolutely love all dogs and pets and I believe it has truly helped him with developing empathy toward those pesky humans too! One thing to remember is that our kids with these differences will often reach the milestones but they are DOCUMENTED to reach them at least two or three years later, so this empathy and such usually comes, just late. I do think our pet has been wonderful for that…and as a source of comfort for him during his times of anxiety. Warning: some Goldendoodles love to eat shoes!

    • #86167

      Oh and a non-shedding dog is a blessing (like I said ours is a goldendoodle, loves everybody, and everything).

    • #86170

      Yes, I definitely and positively recommend it! I have ADHD, and getting a dog recently was the best decision ever! I have to walk and feed the puppy regularly, which improved my scheduling responsibility; and having my dog also improved my depression. I had one dog before him, and I knew it was a big commitment, but once you adjust, it will bring happiness and comfort to your life. Please be a responsible dog-parent, commit to regular walks, training and education of both your dog and yourself. I am taking my dog to Obedience and Agility classes, which improves his social skills as well as mine. Win-win! Good luck!!!

    • #86203

      Yes… Best thing we did for our daughter! The unconditional love of an animal is amazing! And, you can use her interactions with the dog to teach social ques…I try to use every situation to teach and encourage 😊

      • This reply was modified 3 years, 7 months ago by susander9.
    • #86208

      My son is 15. He doesn’t get along with my husband (I got remarried about 2 years ago) or my two step kids. I started to feel like he thought I was the only one happy to see him when he comes here. I got him a black lab puppy with the hope that having his own dog here would help him feel more at home. It’s definitely helped and I had them take obedience classes together. My son struggles with impulsiveness and reading social cues which makes it hard for him to make and keep friends so I think having one being in his life who never criticizes and is always happy to see him has really helped him adjust over the last few years. It’s also helped with responsibility as he knows he needs to get up and let the dog out before he goes to school and he does this most days without me telling him. He also takes the dog for walks and runs which exercise has always improved his mood and ability to concentrate. The only drawback is that because I share custody of my boys with their dad, they don’t get to be together every day.

    • #86220

      Our little guy is now 8 years old (ADHD) and we got him a Golden Retriever when he was 2 and a half. We now have a second Goldie as well. Getting him a dog(s) was the best thing we ever did! They are inseparable, he even reads them stories 🙂
      Any pet is a responsibility, and Goldies do shed a bit (unless you brush them regularly) but it’s all worth it considering their amazing natures and the unconditional love and care that they give to a child. We would have 100 hundred dogs if we could 🙂

    • #86392

      We are a pet family, always have been. When my son was four we gave him his own kitten after he’d been asking for a year. I thought it might help his self-esteem, and perhaps be a calming influence. He’d been struggling with toilet training for months and we’d told him that once he got the job done he could a kitten; however after giving that task everything he had for months it still hadn’t completely come together and he was feeling discouraged. The decision was made to acknowledge his hard work and the progress he’d made so we got him one, and was he ever proud! It has been a great experience. We were already prepared to do the care aspects of pet ownership but he tries to help when he can and loves being ‘big enough’ to help with feeding and brushing. He adores the cat and they get along well. It’s amazing how well he can sit on the sofa when that cat is in his lap!

      I would recommend starting out slow if you aren’t sure about a dog because of hair/poop etc. Perhaps contact your local humane society and start volunteering your time there together, or ask them about becoming an animal foster parent for animals who need it. It’s a great way to see what ownership feels like and you can ‘test-drive’ a pet without the long-term commitment right away. You may even find that a cat or a rabbit works. Good luck!

      • This reply was modified 3 years, 7 months ago by Slinky.
    • #86487

      Hi there!

      If you feel your family isn’t ready for the responsibility of a large animal like a dog, I have found there are plenty of other animals who are just as loving and supportive that can perform the same role. I myself have a couple of rats, and there are plenty of bonding animals like guinea pigs. The only downside is that with small bonding animals like these, you typically need to have a minimum of two in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle for that pet.

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