How to Know if Your Dog Has ADHD

Hyper dogs usually do not have ADHD.
Hyper dogs usually do not have ADHD. (Image: dog image by Joanna Redesiuk from

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, is a well-known condition for children who are unable to focus, have short attention spans and are prone to hyper behavior. ADHD is uncommon and unlikely in dogs, and usually the signs owners assume are ADHD actually point to attention-seeking behavior or not enough exercise for the specific dog or breed. Determining when a dog has ADHD takes a little patience and research, but it is possible.

Consider the age of the dog. Puppies and young dogs are usually hyper and prone to distraction due to the young age. Almost any puppy will have trouble focusing for long on training sessions. When working with a puppy, keep training sessions short and provide rigorous exercise. Puppies that fall asleep afterward are unlikely to have ADHD.

Research the dog breed. Find out recommended amounts of exercise and stimulation for the specific breed and look at the current conditions of the dog. If the dog is not getting enough exercise for the breed, the problem is actually lack of exercise and boredom.

Rule out attention-seeking behaviors. Dogs want attention from their owners and will bark or act up to gain attention. Ignore the dog’s barking for a day and see if the behavior stops or lessens.

Observe the dog’s behavior patterns. A truly hyperactive dog is uncommon and usually results from inappropriate training, boredom, lack of exercise or young age. If the other potential issues are ruled out, pay attention to the dog’s behaviors and patterns. Watch for constant movement and easy distraction. Pay attention while the dog sleeps for movement.

Take the dog to the vet. Only a vet can diagnose ADHD in a dog. If the dog’s behavior suggests to the vet that the dog is hyperactive, the vet will diagnose ADHD and determine an appropriate plan for behavior modification.

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