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Can I Get a Service Dog for ADHD?

older adult woman with a service dog on a patio

Service dogs are well-known for helping humans with a variety of physical disabilities, but did you know that they can also help people with mental health concerns as well? A well-trained service dog can be an invaluable part of a multi-pronged strategy to make ADHD more manageable day by day.

In this article, we cover the challenges of ADHD, and how a psychiatric service dog makes it more manageable for a person. Also, we go over the process of how to attain your service dog if you feel that it would be a benefit to you or a family member in need.

Details on ADHD and Psychiatric Service Dogs

ADHD is an acronym for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. It can trouble adults just as much as children. Its symptoms are characterized as lack of focus, hyperactivity that can be disruptive in certain settings, and acting impulsively with little thought to consequence. ADHD is commonly treated by a combination of medication, therapy, and counseling. 

Service dogs are another tool in the arsenal that can help treat ADHD. Instead of waiting between doctor appointments for treatments, a service dog can be a constant net positive impact on someone’s life. 

A psychiatric service dog is trained to assist individuals suffering from mental illness. The tasks these animals do for their owners are manifold but, in many ways, far more hidden than the kind of tasks a service dog might perform for more physically disabled owners. 

These dogs are there to heal and to hold. They are trained to notice when something is wrong and to help de-stress their owners. They motivate and sometimes even inspire their human pals to face the day with bravery, even when times are dark.

In short, psychiatric service dogs are a complex breed of service animals that can assist in other serious mental health syndromes, such as PTSD, anxiety, and depression.

How Can Psychiatric Service Dogs Specifically Help Someone With ADHD?

There are several benefits to having a psychiatric service dog for someone struggling with ADHD:

They Keep Their Owners Accountable

Individuals that suffer from the challenging effects of ADHD can benefit their lives by having a well-trained service dog. One of the main issues someone with ADHD deals with is constant distractions. A service dog can help keep them focused and on point by their mere presence.

Dogs require a certain level of care, which forces their owners into creating a structured life around their service animal. This is a great teaching mechanism that keeps the owner accountable, aware, and focused in their daily lives.

They Encourage Physical Fitness

ADHD can cause a person to be hyperactive and always need to do something. Service dogs can help with this by requiring them to participate in walks, playing in parks, and other outdoor activities that keep their dogs healthy and fresh.

These activities have the added benefit of keeping the owners in better shape by encouraging them to get out and about regularly.

They Help Their Owners Socialize More

Service dogs are great conversation starters no matter where one goes. People that suffer from ADHD can have more of a propensity for self-isolation due to their condition. Since dogs benefit from socialization in their own right, this forces their owners to take action which puts the owner in social situations themselves. 

They Keep Their Owners Well-Grounded

Service dogs that are ever-present in the lives of their masters provide a tangible “rock” for the owner to rely on when the going gets tough in their lives. These interactions force the owner of the service dog to be present in the here and now.

These dogs can be trained to provide a certain level of pressure and contact on the bodies of their owners to help calm them down. Sometimes knowing that someone else is present can make a huge difference for someone struggling with ADHD.

This is extremely helpful for calmly defusing situations where the owner is on the verge of having an anxiety attack or some other stress-induced triggering moment. The service dog’s very presence interrupts negative thought processes, allowing for a calmer mental state to slowly take place.

In conclusion, a psychiatric service dog is a great tool for combatting ADHD by forcing their owners to become more focused, active, and sociable in daily life. Both owner and dog have the potential to grow stronger and stronger in bond the longer they participate in this partnership.  

How to Get a Psychiatric Service Dog for ADHD?

To attain a psychiatric service dog, you first need to get a letter of recommendation from either a family doctor or a licensed mental health practitioner. This letter of recommendation effectively functions as a prescription and will include your physician’s license details.

All dog breeds are open for use as psychiatric service dogs are concerned. Just be sure that the dog you choose is capable of doing the tasks you require of it. For example, if you have issues with mobility, then a corgi might not be the best choice for your needs due to their small size.

With that said, an ADHD dog can be big or small. The physicality of your animal should not factor into the care it can provide for you or a family member struggling with ADHD.

It’s important to note that for your psychiatric service dog to be ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant, they have to have proper training. You can get this from certified dog training professionals. 

Conclusion

If you have complications from ADHD and you’d like some relief, a service dog can be just what the doctor ordered. ADHD is a challenging disability that can be taxing and emotionally and mentally draining.

A well-trained psychiatric service dog is the difference between a bad day and a more tolerable one. These highly-trained animals can help their owners relax and deal with the complexities of the world. They are like a best friend that is always ready to lend a helping paw.


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