EXCLUSIVE: Dogs can show ADHD behaviours – it may explain difficulty training, expert says

An animal expert has revealed that dogs can show symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – and it may explain why your pet has difficulty with training. Canine behaviourist Katie Scott-Dyer says it’s common for pet owners struggling with problem behaviour to report symptoms on the ADHD spectrum.

While scientific research into canines and the neurodevelopmental disorder is still ongoing, “there are studies on dopamine receptors that are adding weight to the theory that dogs could have ADHD-like behaviours”, Katie says. She told the Mirror: “I see a lots of cases where it’s thought by the owners that the dog might have ADHD and indeed it can look very much like it.

“ADHD is clinically defined in humans as an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development.

“What does this have to do with dogs? Well, many owners struggling with problem dog behaviour report behaviours on the ADHD spectrum.

“Their dog can’t focus or can find training a struggle because they lose interest quickly, they can’t settle or are hyperactive until they crash exhausted at night.”

Katie explains that hyperactivity is one of the main symptoms owners report to professionals.

Other dogs may have strong prey drives, lack recall or are intermittent with feeding regimes.

They may seen to be unable to listen to owners, counter surf and raid bins or rip apart toys, bedding, and seem to go from zero to 100 instantly.

“This behavioural variation can be individual to some breeds, their age, early environments and experiences and can be as simple as boredom in some cases, so we look carefully at everything as a professional working with owners to be able to give the right advice,” Katie explains.

A study by Veterinary Medicine Open Journal states that it is possible for dogs to suffer from ADHD, though vets don’t yet diagnose it.

The paper reads: “The behavioural disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is typically associated with human children, but its clinical manifestation in dogs has recently been investigated indicating that certain gene variants (e.g., the DRD4 gene) contribute to its expression.

“On balance, it would be accurate to say that dogs can suffer from a condition that is – at least – very similar to ADHD which is more commonly recognised in humans.”

Katie adds: “Scientific research is ongoing on this fascinating subject. If you think your dog has ADHD and would like some help, please seek help from a qualified and experienced animal behaviourist on abtc.org.uk/practitioners.”