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Comparing lateral bias in dogs and humans using the Kong™ ball test

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

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The Kong™ ball test has been used extensively to assess lateral bias in the domestic dog. Implicit in this challenge is the assumption that dogs use their dominant paw to stabilise the ball. This study examined whether or not this is the case. A comparative approach was adopted, exploring limb use in dogs and humans. In Experiment 1, the paw preference of 48 dogs was assessed on the Kong™ ball test. Analysis revealed an equal distribution of paw use, although significantly more dogs were paw-preferent than ambilateral. Significantly more male dogs were classified as right-pawed, while more females were ambilateral. There was no significant effect of canine sex or castration status on the dogs' paw preferences. In Experiment 2, 94 adult humans were assessed on their ability to remove a piece of paper from a Kong™ ball with their mouth, using their left, right or both hands to stabilise the ball. 76% of the right-handed people used their left hand, and 82% of the left-handed participants used their right hand, to hold the Kong™ steady. It is concluded that dogs, like humans, are most likely using their non-dominant limb to stabilise the Kong™ ball and their dominant side for postural support. This has potential applied implications from an animal welfare perspective.

Date 2016
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 176
Pages 70-76
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2016.01.010
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Dogs
  2. Hands
  3. Laterality
  4. preferences
  5. toys