Canine-assisted therapy for children with ADHD: preliminary findings from the positive assertive cooperative kids study

J Atten Disord. 2015 Feb;19(2):125-37. doi: 10.1177/1087054713502080. Epub 2013 Sep 23.


Objective: The objective of this study was to provide preliminary findings from an ongoing randomized clinical trial using a canine-assisted intervention (CAI) for 24 children with ADHD.

Method: Project Positive Assertive Cooperative Kids (P.A.C.K.) was designed to study a 12-week cognitive-behavioral intervention delivered with or without CAI. Children were randomly assigned to group therapy with or without CAI. Parents of children in both groups simultaneously participated in weekly parent group therapy sessions.

Results: Across both treatment groups, parents reported improvements in children's social skills, prosocial behaviors, and problematic behaviors. In both groups, the severity of ADHD symptoms declined during the course of treatment; however, children who received the CAI model exhibited greater reductions in the severity of ADHD symptoms than did children who received cognitive-behavioral therapy without CAI.

Conclusion: Results suggest that CAI offers a novel therapeutic strategy that may enhance cognitive-behavioral interventions for children with ADHD.

Keywords: ADHD; canine-assisted therapy; human–animal interactions; pet therapy.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / therapy*
  • Child
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Dogs*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Psychotherapy, Group
  • Treatment Outcome