Stability of motor bias in the domestic dog, Canis familiaris

Deborah L. Wells, Peter G. Hepper, Adam D. S. Milligan, Shanis Barnard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
387 Downloads (Pure)


This study explored the relationship between four measures of canine paw preference to establish whether the distribution, direction or strength of motor bias was consistent between tasks. Thirty-two dogs had their paw preferences tested using the Kong ball, tape, lift paw and First-stepping tests. A smaller sample were re-tested 6 months later. The distribution of the dogs’ paw preferences was not significantly different from that expected by chance for the Kong ball and lift paw tests; dogs were significantly more inclined towards ambilaterality on the tape and First-stepping tests. More female dogs employed their right paw on the lift paw test; males were more likely to be ambilateral or left-pawed. There was no significant correlation in the direction of dogs’ paw use for any tests. The First-stepping and lift paw tests were positively correlated for strength of paw use. Analysis revealed a significant correlation in direction and strength of dogs’ paw use between the first and second attempts of all measures, except the tape test. Findings suggest that paw preference in the dog is not consistent between tasks, although stable over time. The study raises questions as to which test of paw preference is the most appropriate to employ.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
JournalBehavioural Processes
Early online date31 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


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