Parenting a Child with ADHD | Can a Dog Help a Child with ADHD?
Hi there – it’s Mrs P again (but you can call me Sandra) and I’m really sorry that I’ve been a bit lax with my blogging but I’m getting back on track and here we go again!!
I guess you’ll have to bear with me there as that’s just part of my ADD and as someone who’s parenting a child with ADHD I’m sure you’ll understand that I get distracted and I don’t always follow through with what I should do so here we go again with the blogging!!
Apart from the fact I had to have a minor operation and I also caught a very nasty bug which completely floored me, one of the reasons I’ve not found the time to blog is that we are dealing with a new challenge in our house…
BUT this one is a FUN CHALLENGE with TONS OF REWARDS…
…great for anyone and especially those with ADHD or ADD, because as you know we NEED REWARDS to remain motivated.
So stop rambling Sandra (another ADD/ADHD trait) and let’s get to the point!!
Let me tell you all about Alfie…
(more video footage below)
Parenting a Child with ADHD | Can a Dog Help a Child with ADHD?
If you’re anything like me, you’re probably forever searching for different ways to help you and your child deal with the struggles of living with ADHD.
And in my search, a little while ago, I heard somewhere that dogs can be really good for people with ADHD and so I read a few articles online and did a bit of research….
but I didn’t take it any further as there was no way that we could have a dog.
Here’s a quote from one of the articles showing how having a dog can help a child and/or family with ADHD or ADD and make parenting a child with ADHD a little easier:-
“Here are a few ways that kids caring for their pet can help them with learning to manage their ADD:
• A pet can teach a child with ADHD to schedule and plan ahead. Pets require a schedule for feeding, walking, bathing etc. Once your child becomes accustomed to following the pet’s schedule, it will be easier for him to follow a schedule for homework, chores or extra-curricular activities.
• If your child has lots of excess energy, playing with a pet can help with that. Your child can burn off energy walking a dog or running around with a kitten, making her more relaxed later in the day.
• Kids with ADHD are used to their parents trying to calm them down or reprimanding them. A pet offers unconditional love and will not criticize a child for having too much energy. Animals are great listeners and can build up a child’s self-confidence.
• Trying to live up to other people’s expectations despite the difficulty can put stress on your child. Petting an animal or even just sitting near one can reduce stress.
• Children with ADHD may have difficulties with social interaction. When your child plays outside with a pet, other kids will automatically want to join in. When you invite a child to your home for a playdate, the pet is a great icebreaker.
• Outdoor exercise can be extremely beneficial to kids with ADHD. Fresh air and good circulation from aerobic exercise increases oxygen-filled blood flow to a child’s brain. If your child walks her dog in the morning before school she will have an easier time concentrating in the classroom.”
You can find the full article here and it’s a great blog about ADHD!
Now we’ve always been a family who like pets and I had my wonderful cat Bingo over 17 years until sadly he had to be sent across the rainbow bridge to the forever playground in the sky as he was very poorly and in too much pain.
I cried my heart out for days….Bingo had been my rock for 17 years and helped me through many struggles in life. He was the longest stable thing in my life. I even wrote a poem about my poor baby Bingo.
The house felt empty and cold….
So we decided to get a couple of kittens Dusty and Coco. Unfortunately that didn’t go so well.
My husband didn’t get on with the kittens so we had to find them a lovely new home and it made us all very sad (except for Graham) even though we’re able to visit them at their new place and they have a big and interesting garden and lots of space – much more than they had here.
Once again we had a pet free home.
So there I was looking around as usual researching more about ADHD and again I came across this article about how owning dogs can help people with ADHD and bearing in mind that I have ADD and I know Marissa has ADHD, I thought it might be good for us too.
Call me a big kid but I’ve always wanted to have a dog of my own, ever since we had to give away our dog Benjie when I was a child.
Now my husband Graham has always been a dog person so having a great reason to get a dog (which would also help with my ADD and Marissa’s ADHD) was music to my ears.
My brain started tick, tick ticking…..
Now as a parent of a child with ADHD you’ll know that when one of us with ADD or ADHD gets something in their mind that they’re really keen on or really want enough we turn on our hyperfocus mode and activate our determination to solve the problem in hand!
There were many reasons why we hadn’t got a puppy so far.
The first one being puppies are expensive and so I had to get the girls on side.
It was a big ask but I knew how much they really really wanted a puppy.
So we made a deal with Daddy ….the three of us wouldn’t have birthday presents this year if we could get a puppy!
And I even got them to agree that we’d be happy not to have a holiday this year if we had a puppy.
But that wasn’t the only obstacle to us getting a puppy….
You can’t leave a puppy at home all day on his own without anyone to let him out for a pee.
And although I work part-time it’s really almost full time and it’s certainly far too long a day for a puppy to be sitting at home crossing his cute little legs!
We had no one who could come round to take him out for a walk at lunch time so he would be able to have a pee half way through the day.
And my 30 minute lunch breaks weren’t long enough to come home and take a dog out for a walk and still get back to work again on time.
Luckily for us my employers are very kind and flexible and they believe in a good work/life balance.
So I put in a request to extend my 30 minute lunch breaks to one hour and work later on my short days to make up the time.
I was really nervous waiting for the answer because I was so excited to get a puppy.
They already know about my ADD and I explained that I wanted to do it to help Marissa’s ADHD and luckily they came up trumps and SAID YES to my request.
I was so excited – so now I was able to put it all to Graham as a feasible suggestion….
I wondered – would Graham really go for it?
To my surprise he agreed!! He too thought it would be good for Marissa.
And so it was ACTION STATIONS!!!
We have a neighbour who has a cute little dog called Bella and we all love her to bits and we always said we’d like a dog like her.
She’s a Cavapoo – a cross between a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a Poodle.
Cavapoo’s are a great combination of cute and fluffy, very affectionate with a great temperament to be around children, not too big so not too hard for the girls to take for a walk and the added bonus for Mummy that they don’t shed hair!!
So now I was on a mission. Where to find a Cavapoo puppy?.
I did a few internet searches but there weren’t any breeders close to me and I was a bit wary of some of these pets for sale website worrying that some of them would be used by puppy farmers (whose puppies are often diseased or maltreated and who are only in it for the money).
Then I came across this website called Pets for Homes (you can find it here) and there was a facility on there for people to report sellers if they weren’t following the rules and caring for the welfare of their dogs and puppies.
I felt that if you could report people who weren’t acting in the best interests of the puppies that there was less likelihood of puppy farmers using the site so I started to look through.
The way the ads were set out it was really easy to judge whether a breeder was experienced by the description they gave of the puppies and also it displayed the person’s join date.
The more experienced and caring ones had a list of things they gave along with the puppies eg a mummy smelling blanket, toys, food, first flea and worm treatments.
Most of them were offering them with their first vaccinations and microchips as it was just coming to the date when it would be illegal in the UK to sell them without a chip.
I kept looking through comparing the ones within a reasonable travelling distance and I phoned a couple with no real success.
The first one I phoned didn’t reply – not a good sign and the second one was having other people around and wouldn’t wait until we were off work to go and visit.
And somehow I didn’t have a great feeling about any of them so I put down the laptop and gave up.
Then about 2 hours later – I don’t know why but my gut told me to have just one last look before bed and when I looked there was an ad for 3 cavapoo boys, very locally to us (quite near my old High School) and with all the goodies and equipment the breeder was offering and from the way the ad was worded it JUST FELT RIGHT!!!
I was so excited that I forgot how late it was and sent a text immediately!! And luckily I didn’t wake Debbie (the breeder) as she also replied immediately.
Graham and I had the following Thursday off so I arranged to go round straight away!!
There was a tiny snag….they were in the more expensive range on the price front and I knew Graham didn’t really want to pay that much but when I told him the next day I sweetened it by reminding him we were happy to forego our annual holiday if necessary!
And I reminded him that if we mistakenly ended up with a puppy farm dog it could be unhealthy and could end up just as expensive or more from vet bills to make him better.
He agreed to go and see them, knowing full well that we’d end up falling in love with them…
I was so EXCITED,,,,I wanted to go there NOW!!!
As with any ADD or ADHD person, waiting until Thursday seemed like FOREVER away…
So we filled up the time trying to think of names and doing internet searches to get ideas.
From the pictures, the one I liked was black but there was also a black and white one and a tri-colour.
Before we went we found out the black and white one had already gone so it was looking like the black one was the next favourite and we were the next people viewing.
The girls were coming out with lots of weird outlandish names – probably from their video games but I couldn’t see myself calling any of them out in the park to get him to come back LOL!!
Graham wanted to call him Sootie but I wasn’t that keen on that either as I’d had a female rabbit called Sootie as a child and it just didn’t fit for me.
Then out of the blue, Sabrina had a burst of inspiration and suggested “Alfie”!!
That was it!
We all agreed before we’d even met him that he’d be called Alfie.
When we met him Alfie was a really cute, cuddly ball of fluff and he was docile and friendly and we all fell in love with him.
He had a cute little white patch on his chest so wasn’t totally black after all.
We were sad to leave him behind that day but he wasn’t yet old enough to leave his Mummy and we had some doggy equipment we needed to go and buy.
Debbie gave us a list of things to buy and also was very helpful with advice on where to buy and my poor Parents had the job of receiving all my amazon parcels over the following week as I work so am not home to receive parcels!! (Sorry Mum & Dad).
Anyway – long story short we collected Alfie the following week and we were just so very happy.
We collected him Saturday morning and then the hard work began!!
Potty Training for Pups!!
To start with we couldn’t take him out for walks as he hadn’t had his full set of jabs but we took him down to our vet and got him weighed and registered on their puppy plan.
And I got quotes for insurance.
There were still plenty of puddles to clean up but luckily we have a laminate floor and Alfie is getting better and better at control and learning that he gets a treat and cuddles for doing his business outside instead of inside.
We also had a lot of tips from Debbie and she is always at the end of the phone if we need advice or help.
Alfie is a lot of hard work but he’s really great fun.
My routine has changed completely and I’m now much better at getting out of bed in the mornings as my first job of the day is Alfie’s morning walk.
I take him out at 5am and yes that’s early but I find it easier to do as I’m doing it for Alfie.
And I know he’s expecting me at the same time every day.
So yes my routine is better.
The girls also now have more freedom and responsibility as I now let them take him for walks without me.
We all get more exercise and more outdoors nature time.
And tons and tons of Love and cuddles from Alfie.
The routine is not yet perfect but it’s much better than it was and I’m going to draw up an Alfie Rota so that we all know what needs to be done every day and also so that we know if someone has already done it eg feed him lunch….after all we don’t want him getting fat!!
I’m not sure yet if it’s helping Marissa with her ADHD but my Dad says it’s already working with me and that I’m much calmer these days.
I guess we will “watch this space” and see how things go.
So as ever I’ve gone on long enough so I’m signing off for today and I’ll see you next time…I promise it won’t be as long before the next blog!
I hope you enjoyed this post and you enjoy the article about how having a dog could help you with parenting your child with ADHD.
Signing off for now but please share your thoughts below – I promise to respond to all comments.
Please also share this post with anyone you think it may help.
Sending you love and hugs ….because if you are parenting a child with ADHD you probably need them!!