Is Your Pet a Righty or a Lefty?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Is Your Pet a Righty or a Lefty?

Do you remember in elementary school when the left handed kids, who were always in the minority – at about 10 percent, according to studies - were made to feel even more singled out because they had to ask the teacher for lefty scissors?

If you’ve ever wondered if your pet is a righty or a lefty, you’re not the only pet parent out there, but with animals, it really doesn’t matter. They’re not going to be singled out for ridicule.

According to this article in The Washington Post, researchers are studying the right and left brain connections, sexual orientation and genetics. While the findings may one day help change the way dogs and cats are bred, trained and used in our society, it makes no difference for us as regular pet owners.

It is, fun, however, to see if we can determine if our dogs and cats are lefties or righties. I conducted the tests outlined in the article with all of our six-pack of dogs this past weekend.

We shook paws with those that knew how, hid treats just out of their grasp, put a toy in their visual field and placed a treat under a bowl. For a cat, you could also dangle something above their head and see which paw it uses to swipe. 

The results mirrored a 2006 study conducted at the University of Manchester in England, which showed half of the dogs in the study were right pawed, while half were left pawed.

Although I think one of our dogs could be either as she will shake hands with either paw she feels like lifting and she split almost evenly on other exercises, but came out dominate on the lefty side more.

In 1991, the Ataturk University in Turkey did a similar study on cats, which resulted in 50 percent being right pawed and 40 percent left pawed, with 10 percent being what we would call ambidextrous, or showing no preference in right or left.

According to the above article, some children face ridicule and even well-meaning parents and teachers who try to force them to be right handed, such as Robin A.F. Olson, founder and president of a rescue organization called Kitten Associates.

Her mother didn’t want her to be “different” so she always handed her things close to her right hand, forcing her to use it and even color with the right hand.

This is another area from which we can learn from our pets. They don’t care if they’re right pawed or left – or lean to left or right politically for that matter - they just accept each other for who they are. What a wonderful way to go through life.

Editor’s note: Image by Flickr user bonnerlibrary

Have you ever noticed if your cat or dog is a righty or a lefty?

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