Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Running Mad - Kids And Your Dog

Photo Credit: USATF JO, Reno, NV, Kingstown, RI, JO Runners Up, warm up for Nationals. Photo: Lorraine Horton

For the most part the posts here have been centered around how you and your pet can benefit from healthy walks, and the assumption has been that the audience consists of adults. Doggie Sensei is going to depart from this standard to discuss the benefits of pets for children who suffer from Tourrette's Syndrome and ADHD, and how the same principles of consistent exercise discussed for adults can benefit children as well.

Your doggie is a wonderful therapist. The unconditional love that they give can become a source of comfort for children who have the extra energy resulting from chemical imbalances of the brain. Simply said, a dog can become a focal point for a child to distract themselves from excess urges, fears, anxiety and or emotional issues that can arise from ADHD. When your child has something external to fixate on, someone that they must care for, then their own worries are forgotten. The consistency required for keeping a dog healthy and well behaved require their constant attention.

If your child is old enough and is able to go with on the doggie walks or runs, have them go with you on a regular basis. Walking the dog is a gentle activity and gives you the opportunity to have conversations with your child. The process of walking, talking occasionally, and minding the dog have a marvelous affect on a child with ADHD, as the route will be a controlled, slow release of energy. Give them the leash, and make them walk at an even pace - your child will be amazed at how energy it takes to just mind the dog and NOT go running of down the path. When sustained over 20 minutes their energy is will be expended without the hyper jump in adrenaline caused by sprinting. This pace is best on an evening walk.

To get the day started, a run may be in order. A study conducted by Dr. Micheal Wendt reveals some insight on the affects of exercise and ADHD. For six weeks, Dr. Wendt led a group of children through a series of intense exercise, intense enough to "..increase the production of neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are important for adequate communication between nerve cells." This burst of neurotransmitters, he notes, is the same result achieved with the medications many ADHD children take. A run with your child and the dog could be a better means of adjusting their brain chemistry without the side effects of a heavy duty medication.

There you have it. Good things come from walking the dog. No small surprise - that's why Doggie Sensei keeps writing about this wonderful relationship you can have with your pet.

1 comment:

Lindsay said...

Yeah that's very interesting. Taking the dog out for a walk or run benefits all, the dog, the adult and the children. Plus it's something a family can do together. A lot of kids might find it easier to talk with their parents while walking, because they are side by side instead of facing one another. The dog is also there as a distraction and comfort.