Do dogs have a paw preference?

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Do dogs have paw preferences?
MALLORY MITCHELL
MS. HELLING
7 TH G R A D E
Question/Problem: Do dogs have a paw preference?
Background Research:
 What controls your hand preference? Well, there is a left and
right hemisphere in your brain. Whether you use your left or
right hand depends on what side of your brain is dominant.
For people who are ambidextrous, both hemispheres are
balanced out. If your left hemisphere is dominant, then you
are right handed, and if your right hemisphere is dominant,
then you are left handed. This also has to do with eye
coordination. If you are right handed, then your right eye
functions better, and vice versa.
 Do dogs have a paw preference? Well, it would depend on the
hemisphere. Studies show that activity associated with
emotions is related to the right cerebral hemisphere, and
patterns and familiar stimuli are related to the left cerebral
hemisphere. Lateralization has mainly only been studied in
visual responses and vocalizations, though I think that dogs
could have lateralized enough to have a sense of preference in
their paws.

Hypothesis/Prediction: If dogs have a
lateralized section in their brain
indicating the favor of one hemisphere
controlling varying abilities, then they do
prefer to use one paw over the other.
Abstract
My project is focused on whether or not dogs
have a specific paw they like to use. We all
have a preferable hand, mine is my right, or
you’re ambidextrous, meaning you can use
both. In my project I determined if they did
have a paw preference, and what it was.
Materials I used:
Dogs
Dog treats
Box with a hole cut near the bottom
Lab notebook
Variables:
Independent Variable: the
different tests for the dogs
Dependent Variable: which
paw the dog used to
complete the test
Controlled Variable(s): where
I held my hand, the size of
the hole in the box, how far
back I put the treat, same
tests, fair judgment
Procedure:
(1)When the dog came over, I had a treat ready. I told the dog
to sit, then asked, with my hand directly in front of them, for their paw. When they
gave it to me, I recorded the paw they used, and praised them with a pat and a
treat. To improvise, if the dog did not know how to shake, I would watch them play
with another dog, keeping an eye out for a cuff over the head, or get them to jump
up on something, which would have them land on one paw first.
(2) The next test required the box with a hole, and a treat. I showed the dog the
treat, and then put it in the box, about halfway back so that they couldn’t reach it
with their muzzle. I then held the box in place while watching them struggle to get
the treat. When they used their paw to try to reach in, I recorded which paw they
reached out with and then praised them and gave the treat to the dog.
(3) The last test was a repeat of the first. When you have the dog shake, you have
to keep in mind that they may have been trained to switch paws back and forth.
That is why the box test was in between the two shake tests.
Dog’s name
Scout
Skeeter
Gigi
Cooper
Jet
Hampton
Duke
Allory
Charlie
Scamp
Hammy
Mickey
Tulip
Lucy
Tuttle
Abbey
Lightening
Julia
Bali
Cat
Flower
Chopper
Leroy
Deli
Diesel
Carson
Scout
Fred
Haskell
Pearl
Balue
Escher
Blitzy
Goldie
Potter
Gender
Test 1
Test 2
Test 3
Left-Right
Male
Male
Female
Male
Male
Male
Male
Female
Male
Male
Male
Male
Female
Female
Female
Female
Male
Female
Female
Female
Female
Male
Male
Female
Male
Female
Male
Male
Male
Female
Male
Male
Female
Female
Male
Left
X
Left
Right
X
X
X
Right
Right
Right
Right
Right
Right
Right
Left
Right
Left
Left
Right
Right
Right
Left
Right
Right
Left
Right
Left
Left
Right
Left
Right
Left
Left
Right
Left
Left
Right
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
Right
Left
Left
Left
Left
Left
Left
Left
Left
Right
Right
X
Right
Left
Right
Right
Left
Right
X
Left
Left
Left
Right
Left
Left
Right
Left
Left
Left
X
X
Right
Right
Right
Left
Left
Left
Right
Left
Right
Left
Right
Left
Right
Right
Right
X
Right
Left
Right
Left
Left
Right
Left
Right
Left
Left
Right
Left
3-0
0-2
2-0
1-1
1-0
0-0
0-0
0-2
0-2
0-2
1-1
1-2
2-1
1-2
3-0
1-2
3-0
2-1
2-1
1-2
0-3
1-2
0-1
0-3
3-0
0-3
2-1
3-0
0-3
2-0
1-2
3-0
3-0
0-3
3-0
Left- 43%
Right- 40%
Neither- 17%
Left vs. Right
100
90
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
Left
Right
Neither
35 DOGS TOTAL
20 MALES: LEFT- 32% RIGHT- 38% NEITHER- 30%
15 FEMALES: LEFT- 43% RIGHT- 32% NEITHER- 25%
100
90
80
70
60
Left
50
Right
Neither
40
30
20
10
0
FEMALE
Male
100
90
80
70
60
Left
50
Right
Neither
40
30
20
10
0
Test 1
Test 2
Test 3
Conclusion
So, in conclusion, I believe that dogs DO have a paw
preference! With the numbers that were shown before, you
can infer that the ones that did not show favor were either
ambidextrous or really didn’t show favor in a paw. There were
so few, that it can be assumed that most dogs do prefer one
paw over the other.
Application
Why would you need to know whether or not dogs have a
paw preference? People have wondered how smart dogs are for a very
long time. They have been tested to find out what actually goes on in their
brain. It was an undecided factor of whether or not their brain is
lateralized enough to have a preference of paw, and other things. If their
brain was developed enough to have that preference, it might lead to
knowledge of other lateralized sections that we have not known about,
proving a dog to be smarter, or more intelligent!
http://psychcentral.com/news/2010/09/28/hand-preference-influenceby-brain-stimulation/18839.html. January 22, 2012. Psych Central.
January 22, 2012.
http://news.discovery.com/animals/hand-preference-animals-human110202.html. February 2, 2011. Discovery Communications, LLC. January
22, 2012.
Special thanks to the Humane Society for allowing me to test the dogs
there!
THE END!

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