Is Your Pet a “Rightie” or a “Leftie?”
Dogs and cats enthrall us with their behavior. We love to watch them play and interact with us and each other. Some of their behavior traits are largely species-oriented; think dog tail-wagging or cat pouncing. And some behaviors, like “smiling” in dogs, even seem to mimic human behaviors. So here’s a question to ponder: can dogs and cats be right- or left-“handed”, like humans?
According to multiple studies, the answer seems to be yes! While I don’t want to bore you with a lot of study references or statistics, the numbers are interesting. One study showed that about 50% of pet cats are right-pawed, 40% are left-pawed, and 10% are ambidextrous, meaning they use both paws with equal skill and frequency. Another study found that dogs tend to be more evenly split than cats, with 50% being left-pawed and 50% right-pawed. And how do humans compare? About 90% of us are right-handed, 10% left-handed and less than 1% ambidextrous.
So how do you know if your pet is a “rightie” or a “leftie?”
Try performing the following “tests” to see which side your pet tends toward:
- Place a treat under the couch just beyond nose reach. Which paw does your pet use to retrieve it?
- Watch your pet knock on or try to pull open a door. Which paw is used?
- Teach your dog to “shake” or “give you five.” Which paw does your pet prefer?
- Dangle a toy above your cat’s head. Which paw does she use to bat the toy?
- Give your dog a treat-filled Kong or a dental chew stick. Which paw does he use to hold it?
- Turn a bowl upside down and place a treat under it. Which paw does your pet use to move the bowl?
While being left-dominated does not seem to present the challenge for pets that it can for humans, knowing whether a pet is right-or left-pawed might be significant for training purposes. And, honestly, it’s just kind of cool to know. It might mean that you and your pet have one more thing in common!