Is your dog right- or left-pawed? Here's how you can find out

Recent study showed that most dogs have a clear preference in what paw to use and that the majority are right-pawed. See what the science says and find out if your pooch is a righty or a lefty.

Have you ever wondered if a dog can be right-pawed or left-pawed? It may sound farfetched but our furry friends do, in fact, have preferences in their 'handedness'. They are a lot more like us than we think.

What do the scientists say about dog 'handedness'?

According to The Times, an analysis of nearly 18,000 dogs was made by Lincoln University in the UK. The owners had to place a treat inside a cardboard or plastic tube and observe how their pet tried to retrieve it. They were asked to score whether their dog used their left forepaw or right forepaw or whether it was difficult to tell.

Research has found that a little under 75% of pets have a paw preference when reaching for food. Of these, just under 60 per cent preferred to use their right.

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The experiment clearly showed that most dogs are either 'left-handed' or 'right-handed', just like humans. While only 10% of the population are left-handed, this number for dogs stands at over 40%!

Is your dog a righty or a lefty? Test it to find out!

Good observation skills are essential for getting an idea of your dog’s paw preferences.

Which paw goes first when your dog climbs the stairs? Which paw does your dog use most to grab or push its favourite toy?Which paw does your canine friend extend when you say 'give paw'? Keep a close look at your dog’s behaviour and write the answers down to keep track.

American Kennel Club also recommends to observe which hind paw your pet uses to scratch itself or which leg is lifted while urinating.

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You can also conduct a series of at-home experiments.

Put something light (a fruit peel, a piece of paper, a treat) on your dog’s head or nose, and watch which paw your dog removes the object with. You can also hide a treat in your hand and see which paw your dog will use to try and get it.

Be patient and keep repeating the experiments. Conclusive results take time.

Are lefty dogs different from the righties?

A previous study by Queen’s University Belfast found that left-pawed dogs took longer to approach a bowl of food when it was placed in an ambiguous position compared with the right-pawed ones. The outcome can be interpreted by lefties' increased ‘pessimism’ and lack of decisiveness. Right-pawed dogs appear more confident.

A researcher Dr Deborah Wells said:

From a pet owner’s perspective, it might be useful to know if an animal is left- or right-limb dominant as it may help them gauge how vulnerable that individual is in stressful situations.

A vet-verified digital media platform for pet owners Wamizwrites that right-pawed dogs are less stressed than left-pawed ones. They are also easier to train. Dogs that do not have strong paw preferences are anxious in unfamiliar environments and are often frightened by loud sounds. Understanding dogs’ 'handedness' is especially important for selecting potential guide dogs and service dogs who must be perfectly balanced, responsive and calm.

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