We all know that whilst most humans are right handed, some or left handed or can even use both left and right with equal ease. But did you know that dogs can be the same and that it may actually tell us something about their personality?
More and more reserch is being done in this field and it is telling us that like humans dogs do have a prefence between left and right, only it is much more evenly spread between the two than it is in us. Researchers at the University of Adelaide did some tests using a Kong stuffed with food, noting which paw was being used to hold the Kong down whilst trying to get to the treat inside. From this they determined that whilst 37% of dogs showed no paw preference (ambipawtrous?!), 34% were left pawed and 29% right pawed.
From here they looked at the Canine Behavioral Assessment and Research Questionnaire to measure how the dogs behaved emotionally with some interesting results. Those with a left paw preference were more likely to show aggression to strangers, then those who were right pawed or showed no agression. Whilst it is never as simple as that as so many other factors have to be taken into consideration the findings are consistent with research done in humans.
However it is not all doom and gloom if you've a left pawed dog - far from it! A study at the University of Sydney suggests that those with a distinct paw preference can be trained to a higher level then those with no preference, and left pawed dogs are often favoured as police and guide dogs. Research in humans suggest that left handed people tend to be more creative and perhaps it is this ability to think creatively that assists those in the most challenging of canine roles.
So how do you tell what your dog is?
Additional research done at the University of New England suggests that most uneutered female dogs are right pawed and uneutered male dogs left pawed; but there are a variety of tests you can do to asses whether your dog is left or right pawed. You ought to do them a few times to check the results are consistent.
Does it matter?
So you've done the test and you've found out what your dog's preference is, the next question is does it matter? Well as research continues and the scientists discover more then it may well do. It could be that in the future left pawed dogs are preferred for certain roles, right-pawed for others and those with no preference for different ones again. As for now as interesting as it is the most important thing is that dogs are happy and healthy - aside from that we don't really care!
For more information on the research from University of Adelaide go to: www.psychologytoday.com/blog/canine-corner/201307/dogs-left-paw-preferences-may-be-different-emotionally