Just like humans tend to favor one hand over the other, many animals display signs of having a dominant side. In the cases of cats and dogs, studies suggest that females tend to be “right-pawed,” while males tend to be “lefties” (though spaying/neutering tends to even the odds). Most pets will consistently use one paw to perform thoughtful tasks, and will lead with that foot when jumping or using stairs.
After reading an article about this online, I decided to test our kitties myself. A reliable way to determine handedness for cats is to place food in a jar and see how he or she tries to fish it out. Easy enough! I found an empty pasta sauce jar and dropped in a few Liver Bites, then shook it in front of the cats and set it down.
For a dozen small pieces of Liver Bites, Pan used his left paw ten times and was finished just as fast as he could frantically scoop them out. Dozo, however, chose not to be rushed, and very carefully used his left paw seven times and right paw five times. I know that’s not enough repetitions for a truly “scientific” study, but I’d like to conclude that Dozo’s talents include ambidexterity.
When I was teaching our dog Mo to “roll over,” I noticed he would only agree to roll to one side, every time. Trying to convince him to roll the other way is impossible… he sprawls to his right even if it means he’ll roll straight into a wall or off the couch! I mentioned it to our trainer at an obedience class, and she confirmed that dogs seem to have a preferred side. As we went on with training tricks, I also noticed that Mo offers to “high five” and “shake” more with his right paw, and resists using his left one even if I specifically ask for it.
Does your pet have a preferred paw? Share how you figured it out!
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- Muddy Paws: Springtime Fun with Dogs!
- Cats & Their Personalities
- Cat Body Language: What It Tells You