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How dogs can help children with Autism and ADHD

Can dogs help children with Autism and ADHD? In short the answer seems to be yes! Find out more about the potential benefits.

March 25 2021 - 3 min read

Can dogs help children with Autism and ADHD?

In short the answer seems to be yes!

Growing up with dogs has been shown to have many benefits for children with Autism.

Sense of security

Dogs are widley known to love their family members unconditionally.  This natural loyality can provide an autistic child with a sense of security.

Help decrease 'meltdowns' and aggression

Not all children with Autism suffer meltdowns, but for those that do, studies have shown that dogs can help.  Its widely recognised that stoking a pet can reduce stress, but dogs in particular seem to have a 6th sense when it comes to our moods, and often go to a family member if they feel something is 'wrong'.

Decrease anxiety

Just to act of stoking a dog, has been proven to lower blood pressure and reduce anxiety.  As we stoke, cuddle and play with our pet, we release oxytocin (the happy hormone), further more playing with a dog introduces fun and laughter too - all of which can be really powerful to a child with Autism or ADHA.

Children are more likely to try new things

Autistic children can be reluctant to try new things.  However, studies have again shown that having a dog at their side can help children to be a little braver and face their fears. It won't always work, there are many situations that occur when a dog simply wouldn't be allowed to join in - but when they can, it's certainly worth a try.

Increased sociability.

Often Autistic children are not can find new social situations difficult.  But with a dog at their side, they can find this a little easier, as the dog is often the focus of attention rather than them.

Helps verbal communication

Autistic children have been observed to talk away to pets, even if their communication skills are limited.  By doing this, they are easily helping to increase their vocabulary without even realising it and in general helping them to communicate more effectively. 

Providing consistency

Children with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) benefit from routine and consistency in their daily life.  Knowing what they will be doing and when is an important part of helping them to know 'what it going to happen next'.  Our four legged friends are just the same, they like to be fed at the same time, walked at the same time and understand when their rest periods are too.  This routine is helpful for adults to, in planning our time in often busy lives - so embrace your dogs love of rountine and consistancy.

Burning off excess energy

Dogs love nothing more than a walk, playing with balls and all things outdoors.  Encouraging children to talk part and play with a dog will help burn off excess energy for all children, but especially those with ADHD.


If you have a dog or other pets, here are a few things to consider if you are thinking about fostering. 

Want to know more about Disability Fostering?

Find out more in our series about the benefits of pets below.