Does your dog shake hands with his left hand? Or does your cat play with his toy with the right? According to two studies your pet is either right or left “handed” regardless of breed or size.
One study from Turkey’s Ataturk University concluded that most domestic cats (50%) are right pawed. A small percentage (10%) are ambidextrous. The remaining 40% of cats are left pawed.
According to a study from the University of Manchester, dogs are more equally divided. The study found that 50% of dogs are left pawed and 50% are right pawed. A very small percentage are ambidextrous.
It’s not as easy as you might think to test your pet’s paw preference. Dogs tend to be random about their preference unless tested several dozen times. Do you want to run the gamut of tests to see which paw your dog prefers? Try the following tests.
The paw shake test - Which paw does your dog reach up to shake hands.
The back position test - While your dog or cat is laying on its back, put your hand just out of reach. Which hand will your pet reach out with?
Under the furniture test - put their favorite toy or treat under a piece of furniture. Which hand will they reach for it with?
Door knocking test - If your pet wants to come inside which hand does it use to scratch at the door?
Record your results after doing these tests at least several dozen times. Do you see a pattern? Is there a paw that is preferred? If no pattern emerges, you may have to do more tests to conclude that your pet is ambidextrous.
Finding out which paw is dominant can show which side of the brain is dominant. This in turn could tell breeders which puppy could be trained for the military, as a service dog or as a therapy dog, according to Stefanie Schwartz a veterinarian at Veterinary Neurology Center in Tustin, California.
Try testing your pet. Maybe you’ll both share the same dominant hand.
All proceeds from Thousand Hills Pet Resort support New Life K9s. New Life K9s provides service dogs to veterans and first responders with PTSD at no cost to them.