Is your dog left pawed or right pawed?

Jul 5, 2019 | Pets, Tips and Tricks

Every day I work with Jake and Maggie and we play “tricks” which involves them getting in my face at the exact time every day and me saying…”Do you want to play tricks?”  They immediately run to the mudroom so I can pull out the treats and then we go through every trick and command that they know.  

One of the things that I’ve noticed from day one is that when I taught them “give me paw”, Maggie has always given me her left paw and Jake has always given me his right.  So it got me thinking about whether dogs are like humans and prefer their right side over their left or both.  

“Jake says hello”.  haa haa

Taken directly from the AKC.org website:

Think about which hand you write with or how you hold your fork. Are you a righty or a lefty? Now think about your dog. It may surprise you to learn that, just like humans favor using their right or left hand, many dogs show a preference for using one paw over the other. Because a dog’s brain is organized similarly to ours in many ways, with two hemispheres that each hold specializations, they, too, can show “handedness,” or what researchers call “laterality.”

The majority of people are right-handed, with about only 10 percent of the world preferring to use their left hand. But the same can’t be said for dogs. Our canine companions show a more even distribution between rightys and leftys. Also, many dogs are ambilateral, meaning they are equally comfortable using either paw, what we call ambidextrous in humans. However, the exact percentage of right-pawed, left-pawed, and ambilateral dogs depends on the way laterality is measured.

There are 3 ways you can test your dog to see if they are left pawed or right pawed:

Kong Test:  The experiment involves giving a dog a Kong, a hollow cylindrical rubber toy that has been stuffed with food. The dog needs to hold the toy still while he works to get at the food. The number of times he uses his left paw to hold the toy is compared to the number of times he uses his right paw, or even both paws at the same time. 

First Stepping Test:  In this experiment, the researchers measure which front paw a dog uses to take his first step from a level standing position. After multiple replications, the dog’s paw preference can be classified.

Laterality:  This study looked at laterality by placing food dishes at 45-degree angles to a dog’s left and right and allowing him to choose a dish. 

What I need to start doing is watch closer as to how Jake and Maggie hold their Nylabones and what side is more dominant or do they prefer to hold the toy with both paws.  Is your dog a righty, a lefty, or both?  Is this something you have ever noticed about your pet before?  I have to admit I never noticed this before with my other dogs and I wish I had paid more attention.  I think it’s something neat to know about your pet.

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