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!