ADHD-like behaviours in dogs

Some dogs cannot sit still and are unable to focus on one thing at a time. They could be exhibiting ADHD-like symptoms like humans do. Here's how to help them.

ADHD-like behaviours in dogs: what studies show

We now know that ADHD is a common condition which isn't related to intelligence. It is mostly inherited but also influenced by environmental factors. Most importantly, it can be managed.

Recent studies have shown that all the above can be applied to dogs. 12 to 15% of dogs tend to exhibit impulsive and hyperactive behaviours. 20% show signs of lack of attention.

What are common risk factors?

The study concluded that age and gender have an influence, with young male dogs being most likely to be hyperactive and impulsive.

It also appears that the breed plays a part, with certain dogs having been bred to be very active, which can lead to hyperactivity. For instance, the German Shepherds, Border Collies or Russel Terriers.  

On the other side of the spectrum, dogs that are bred to be companions, such as certain dogs that are now bred primarily as companions, such as chihuahuas, display much-less ADHD-like signs. 

How to help your pooch?

The environmental factors can be managed by the dog owners so that they create the optimal environment for their dog to thrive in.

Keeping your dog active, making them socialise and keeping them company have shown to be the best solutions to tame impulsive behaviours. The study found that dogs who spend more time alone, are involved in less activities and are fearful due to lack of socialising tend to display more hyperactivity and lack of attention. 

How to care for a hyperactive dog? If your dog seems unable to sit still, it is recommended to take them to the vet, just to eliminate the possibility of hyperkinesis. It is a rare behavioural disorder and it's very unlikely, but always best to check.

The good news is, the more you can spend time with your dog, get them involved in activities and teach them to socialise with people and other dogs, the higher the chances of resolving impulsivity and inattention. An extra walk, a few days at a dog care centre, hiring a dog walker are solutions that can help improve your dog's behaviour.