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Is There an Association between Paw Preference and Emotionality in Pet Dogs?

By Tim Simon, Elisa Frasnelli, Kun Guo, Anjuli Barber, Anna Wilkinson, Daniel S. Mills

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Research with humans and other animals has suggested that preferential limb use is linked to emotionality. A better understanding of this still under-explored area has the potential to establish limb preference as a marker of emotional vulnerability and risk for affective disorders. This study explored the potential relationship between paw preference and emotionality in pet dogs. We examined which paw the dogs preferentially used to hold a Kong™ and to perform two different locomotion tests. Dogs’ emotionality was assessed using a validated psychometric test (the Positive and Negative Activation Scale—PANAS). Significant positive correlations were found for dogs’ paw use between the different locomotion tasks, suggesting that dogs may show a more general paw preference that is stable across different types of locomotion. In comparison, the correlations between the Kong™ Test and locomotion tests were only partially significant, likely due to potential limitations of the Kong™ Test and/or test-specific biomechanical requirements. No significant correlations were identified between paw preference tests and PANAS scores. These results are in contrast to previous reports of an association between dog paw preference and emotionality; animal limb preference might be task-specific and have variable task-consistency, which raises methodological questions about the use of paw preference as a marker for emotional functioning. 

Date 2022
Publication Title Animals
Volume 12
Issue 9
Pages 1153
ISBN/ISSN 2076-2615
DOI 10.3390/ani12091153
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Dogs
  2. emotionality
  3. Laterality
  4. Locomotion
  5. open access
  6. preferences
  1. open access