Does your dog sometimes overwhelm you with the unlimited energy he has? If your dog just seems to have no chill and all he wants to do is play and jump around without being able to focus on just one thing — you might be suspicious that he has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. However, is that even possible? Can dogs have ADHD? And if so, how to diagnose it. To find out more about that, keep on reading.
What is ADHD?
ADHD is one of the most common human psychiatric disorders. Dogs can also experience it, however in that case it is not called ADHD anymore. But instead hyperkinesis. However, it is not nearly as common in dogs as it is in humans.
Dogs with hyperkinesis can get excited very easily. But m that’s kind of something most dogs can relate to. However, one unique thing that is characterizing all hyperkinetic dogs is the lack of ability to react to an external stimuli. In other words, your dog may behave overwhelmingly distracted, constantly alerted, physically aroused but also easily bored.
Although hyperkinesis and ADHD aren’t the exact same condition, they are still largely similar on a neurological basis.
To recognize that your dog is suffering from this condition, be on the lookout for symptoms such as:
- Very impulsive
- Hard to focus
- Administration of stimulants can make him calm down or less distracted
The last point basically means that while most dogs will act more excited and uplifted after a small dose of amphetamine, dogs with ADHD will calm down and their excitement will lessen.
How is ADHD in dogs diagnosed?
The only person who can diagnose your dog with ADHD is a veterinarian. However, if you’re suspicious of your dog suffering from ADHD, there is a test that you can even try out at home.
The first step for this test is to make sure that your dog didn’t eat anything for the last couple of hours. Later, take him out for a walk but make sure to not exhaust him completely. Lastly, put a leash on him and take your clicker and a bag full with treats.
Make sure that you two are in a room with no distractions and the test may start.
For an entire minute, click the clicker and feed your dog the treat. Try to give him as much treats as possible and only make sure that your pet focuses on you.
After the one minute, reduce the number of treats by half. After the second minute, reduce the number of treats even further. Don’t forget using the clicker during the whole process.
Keep using the clicker and treat mechanisms, but instead of immediately giving him the treat, hold off for two seconds. The crucial thing is to keep things random and avoid making a pattern.
At some point, you should stop clicking and treat your dog for approximately 30 seconds. After that, your dog should look at you waiting to click the clicker and give him a treat. The entire exercise has to last for at least ten minutes.
If your dog made it through the entire exercise with his attention only occasionally lapsing – you have no reason to be worried. However if he got lost completely in the process, maybe it’s time to visit your vet.
ADHD like conditions
There are certain conditions in dogs that can possibly lead to a false diagnosis. The most common ones are
- Your dog is just a puppy.
Puppies tend to have shorter attention spans. Their energy also seems to be going through the roof. However, that’s more or less the same thing as with human children. You need to be patient and teach your puppy what’s okay to do and what is not. One thing that is different with puppies and with dogs who have ADHD is that puppies tire out after exercising which will make them sleep like a baby (which they actually are) after.
- Your dog has lots of energy
This can be common in young adult dogs. However it is very rare in senior dogs. Depending on the breed and age, your dog may be showing some extreme activity levels. If that is the case, make sure that he is getting enough exercise on a daily basis. Only then will he be at his best.
If your dog accumulated a high level of energy during the day, the may be starting to spin around the house like a maniac. This can be a one time thing only, and most likely connected to the fact that your dog didn’t get enough exercise during the day.