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left-handed dogs

Deutsche Presse Agentur
Published: Sunday September 17, 2006

Sydney- Which paw does your dog usually use to trap a ball or steady a dish on the floor? The right paw or the left paw, and your dog's among the one-third that favour one or the other. No obvious preference and your dog's in the two-thirds of canines that are ambidextrous.

There's more to this than an interesting observation, says Sydney University veterinary science lecturer Paul McGreevy. Laterality in a pup, as he calls it, could be a very good predictor of behaviour in later life.

Dogs that lack any bias are less likely to be upset by loud noises like gunshots, thunderclaps and fireworks, according to McGreevy, who worked with 270 dogs in his research project.

"If we can show laterality is a predictor of a dog's motivation or reluctance to explore, we can help guide-dog- and sniffer-dog trainers select the right animals," he said.

His work also has implications for people who keep dogs as pets.

Training manuals almost always show a dog on the left of the trainer. This would be fine for most dogs, but awkward for those lead with their right paw.

© 2006 DPA - Deutsche Presse-Agenteur