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Home DOG THERAPYChildren & ADHD The Role of Dogs in Promoting Emotional Regulation in Children with ADHD

The Role of Dogs in Promoting Emotional Regulation in Children with ADHD

by Bella Woof
Dog Children

The Role of Dogs in Promoting Emotional Regulation in Children with ADHD


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects millions of children worldwide. It is characterized by symptoms such as inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Managing these symptoms can be challenging for both the child and their families. While medication and therapy are commonly used interventions for ADHD, the role of pets, particularly dogs, in promoting emotional regulation in children with ADHD is gaining recognition. This article will explore the positive effects of dogs on emotional regulation in children with ADHD and address frequently asked questions.

The Impact of Dogs on Emotional Regulation in Children with ADHD

1. Companionship and Unconditional Love
Dogs provide a unique form of companionship and unconditional love that helps children with ADHD develop emotional regulation skills. These children often struggle with expressing their emotions appropriately and can have difficulty forming and maintaining social relationships. The presence of a dog can offer a consistent source of companionship and love, providing a safe and nonjudgmental space for the child to process and regulate their emotions.

2. Anxiety and Stress Reduction
Children with ADHD often experience high levels of anxiety and stress. Dogs have been shown to have a calming effect on individuals, leading to reduced anxiety and stress levels. The act of petting a dog releases oxytocin, a hormone associated with bonding and relaxation, which can help children regulate their emotions better. Furthermore, the rhythmic, repetitive motion of stroking a dog can have a soothing effect on the nervous system, promoting a sense of calmness and relaxation.

3. Physical Exercise and Energy Release
Hyperactivity is a common symptom of ADHD, and finding constructive outlets for excess energy can be challenging. Dogs provide an excellent opportunity for children with ADHD to engage in physical exercise and release pent-up energy. Activities such as walking, running, or playing fetch with a dog can help redirect the child’s hyperactivity into positive channels, leading to increased emotional regulation and focus.

4. Responsibility and Routine
Caring for a dog requires a sense of responsibility and adherence to a daily routine. Children with ADHD can benefit from the structured nature of caring for a pet. Feeding, grooming, and exercising a dog provide a sense of purpose and routine that can improve their ability to self-regulate. Additionally, taking care of a living creature helps children develop empathy and a sense of responsibility, which can have a positive impact on their emotional growth and regulation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Is there scientific evidence to support the positive effects of dogs on emotional regulation in children with ADHD?
Yes, several studies have shown the positive impact of dogs on emotional regulation in children with ADHD. For example, a study published in the Journal of Attention Disorders found that children with ADHD who had a dog displayed lower levels of aggression and higher levels of pro-social behaviors compared to children without a dog. Other studies have also reported improvements in attention, hyperactivity, and self-esteem among children with ADHD who interact with dogs.

2. Are certain dog breeds more suitable for children with ADHD?
While individual preferences may vary, certain dog breeds are often recommended for children with ADHD due to their temperament and energy levels. Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Border Collies are known for their friendly and patient nature, making them excellent companions for children. However, it is important to consider the specific needs and abilities of the child and match them with a suitable breed accordingly.

3. Can dogs act as a substitute for medication or therapy in treating ADHD?
No, dogs should not be seen as a substitute for medication or therapy in treating ADHD. While dogs can provide valuable emotional support and aid in emotional regulation, they cannot replace the expertise of medical professionals. Medication, therapy, and structured interventions are essential components of ADHD treatment. Dogs can complement these interventions and provide additional support.

4. Are there any potential risks or concerns associated with owning a dog for a child with ADHD?
Owning a dog requires commitment and responsibility, which may pose challenges for some families. It is important to consider factors such as allergies, time commitment, financial costs, and the child’s ability to handle the responsibilities of owning a pet. Additionally, dogs may not be suitable for all children with ADHD, particularly if the child has severe allergies or phobias. It is crucial to consult with medical professionals and conduct thorough research before bringing a dog into the family.


The role of dogs in promoting emotional regulation in children with ADHD is increasingly recognized and supported by scientific evidence. The companionship, unconditional love, anxiety and stress reduction, physical exercise, responsibility, and routine provided by dogs can greatly benefit children with ADHD. While dogs should not replace medication or therapy, they can complement existing treatments and provide additional emotional support. However, it is crucial to consider individual circumstances and consult with professionals before introducing a dog into the family.

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