Us southpaws never seem to get a break — bumping elbows at dinner tables, the smudge of ink that develops on our pinky fingers when we’re using pens… and don’t even get me started on scissors! At just 10% of the world population, we have to adapt to a right-handed world. But while humans are overwhelmingly right-handed, the animal kingdom is actually quite more diverse.
Studies have shown that handedness among dogs and cats, for instance, is much more equally distributed. Now, of course, whether a cat or dog uses their right or left paw more often doesn’t matter in the same ways as it does to humans — you’re not going to see Fido using a can opener or Fluffy writing a postcard. But it can be helpful to know which paw your pet prefers in other circumstances, as Dr. Stefanie Schwartz of the Veterinary Neurology Center in Tustin, California told the Daily Mail. Handedness goes, well, hand-in-hand, with laterality, or which side of the brain is more dominant. In the future, knowing the paw preference of a puppy may just help identify the best candidates for service and therapy dogs.
Though Dr. Schwartz is still researching this topic, she has developed a method of testing the paw preferences of dogs and cats for curious pet parents to try at home. Dr. Schwartz suggests performing these tests 100 times to get a definitive answer. Though my foster cat quickly lost interest, he’s 5 for 5 a righty!
Interested in testing whether your dog or cat is a righty or a lefty? See the next page!
Tests for Dogs
- If your dog can “shake,” which paw does she usually offer?
- Put a dab of a sticky food on your pooch’s nose. Does he use his right or left paw to take it off?
- Put a tiny treat just out of reach of your dog. Does she use her right or left paw to grab it?
- Put a tiny treat under your dog’s food bowl. Does he use his right or left paw to move the bowl?
- When your dog wants to go outside, does she use her right or left paw to knock on the door?
- Fill a toy with your dog’s favorite treat. Does he use his right or left paw to touch the toy the first time? Does he use his left or right paw to hold the toy?
Tests for Cats
- Put a dab of a sticky food on your cat’s nose. Does he use his right or left paw to take it off?
- Put a tiny treat just out of reach of your cat. Does she use her right or left paw to grab it?
- Put a tiny treat under your cat’s food bowl. Does he use his right or left paw to move the bowl?
- Dangle your cat’s favorite toy over his/her head. Does she use her right or left paw to bat at the toy?
Is your pet right or left-handed? Let us know your results in the comments section!