How our Dog Became Therapy for ADHD

All I Want for Christmas

It’s kind of a classic Christmas wish right? Well 2 years ago guess what was on the top of my daughter’s list? Yep, a puppy. The thought of adding another creature to my already chaotic house was more than I could process. I was already drowning with the responsibility of parenting an ADHD kiddo, a preschooler and attempting to be a good (or at least understanding wife) of an ADHD husband. Why would I even entertain the idea of adding more to my plate?

Yes, her begging was insistent and of course I wanted to make her Christmas wish come true but the reason I finally caved had a lot more to do with her ADHD. At the time Pickles (not her real name) was in 2nd grade. She was struggling socially. She had a few friends at school but she rarely received an invitation for a playdate. It hurt so much to watch her struggle but I won’t go into all the reasons here…there is enough material for several posts. I saw the need for a companion that loved her unconditionally and a dog fit the bill perfectly. I gave Santa the seal of approval. It truly was the best Christmas morning EVER!!

Teaching Discipline

Rudy quickly became a member of our family and his bond to Pickles was picture perfect. I moaned and groaned through potty training (don’t get a new puppy in the winter; early morning potty breaks are wet, cold and frequent). What I didn’t expect was an invaluable lesson in discipline for Pickles. Of course she wanted to be involved in all things puppy so she came to doggy training and was eager (at first anyways) to practice at home. Teaching Rudy to sit, stay, lay down etc was an easy way to translate to her the importance of listening to authority. It was a hands on example of why listening to commands from a parent or teacher will earn you treats and keep you from getting plowed down by a car.

Morning Wake-ups

Mornings have always been tough for Pickles. She HATES getting up and if left alone can sleep like a teenager. Being a morning person I can’t relate but I had to find a way to start our day on the right foot. After trying several researched ideas I asked her what would work. Why I didn’t think of that first I have no idea!! She requested that Rudy wake her up. So the next morning I had Rudy follow me into her bedroom and place his head inches from her face (he’s a big dog). Sure enough she rolled over and sleepily pet his head. It’s not a perfect strategy but by far the one met with the least resistance day after day.

Rudy has become such a part of our family now I couldn’t imagine life without him. The struggle of training a new puppy was not easy but the payoff to clear some of our ADHDaze was beyond measure. I’ve never looked into this but I think you could even go so far as certifying your dog.  Check out some options here.


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