“Our findings can help us to better understand, treat, and prevent canine hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention,” Professor Grainger says. Professor Sullivan says that the dogs showed similarity to ADHD in humans, which reinforces the role of dogs as ADHD-related research. Hannes LohiHead of the University of Helsinki’s canine gene research group.
“Dogs and humans share many similarities, including physiological traits and the environment. Dogs can also exhibit ADHD-like behavior. “Dogs are an interesting model to study ADHD in humans,” says a doctoral researcher. Sini Sulkama.
Professor Lohi’s research group collected data about more than 11,000 dogs via a thorough behavioural survey. The questions were based on an ADHD survey that was used in human ADHD research and examined hyperactivity, impulsivity, as well as inattention. The study aimed to identify environmental factors that can cause ADHD-like behavior in dogs and to determine if there were any other behavioural traits.
It all comes down to the dog’s age, gender, and owner’s experience with dogs.
“We found hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention more common in young dogs than in men,” says Dr. Michael J. Sullivan. In humans, corresponding observations related to ADHD and age/gender have been made,” says Jenni Puurunen, PhD.
Dogs who spent more time at home alone daily were more hyperactive, impulsive, and attentive than dogs who spent less time with their owners.
“Dogs are social animals. They can become stressed and frustrated when they are left alone. This can lead to hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention. Sulkama suggests that dogs who spend more time alone may also receive less exercise and attention from their owners.
Researchers discovered a link between hyperactivity/impulsivity and owner’s experiences with dogs. The two traits were more prevalent in dogs that were not their first dogs. The cause of this phenomenon is still unknown.
Sulkama says that while people might choose a less active dog as their first pet, they may be more suited to the idea of a dog as a pet. However, more active dogs can be selected after more experience with dogs.
Significant differences between breeds
Breeding has had a major impact on the breed-specific behavior of different dog breeds. The genes that underlie the traits may also be different between breeds.
“Hyperactivity and impulsivity are common in breeds that were bred for work like the Border Collie and German Shepherd. A calmer disposition is a benefit in breeds that are popular for their pets or show dogs like the Chihuahua and Long-Haired Collies. This makes them more comfortable companions in daily life. Professor Lohi said that in these breeds, concentration has not been as important as in working breeds. That is why inattention in pet dogs can be more common.
Link to other behavioral problems
The study confirmed the interesting connections between hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention, as well as obsessive-compulsive behavior, aggressiveness, fearfulness, and obsessive impulsivity. ADHD is often associated to other mental disorders or illnesses. ADHD can also be accompanied by obsessive-compulsive disorder, OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder). OCD-like obsessive compulsive behavior in dogs can include tail chasing, continual licking of surfaces or themselves, and staring at ‘nothing.
“The findings show that both dogs and humans have the same brain regions and neurobiological paths that regulate activity, impulsivity, and concentration. This reinforces the possibility that dogs can be used as a model animal in ADHD research. Sulkama concludes, “The results can both help identify and treat canine impulsivity or inattention as well promote ADHD research.”