graph.jpggraph copy.jpg








"SHAKE PAW" - Test 1
BREED
M/F
Trial 1
Trial 2
Trial 3
Trial 4
Trial 5
Dog 1
Golden Retriever
Female
R
R
R
R
R
Dog 2
Bushong
Female
R
R
L
L
R
Dog 3
German Shepherd
Female
R
R
R
R
R
Dog 4
Pitbull
Male
L
L
L
L
L
Dog 5
Golden Husky
Female
R
R
R
L
R
Dog 6
Maltese Mix
Female
R
R
R
R
R








TAPE REMOVAL - Test 2
BREED
M/F
Trial 1
Trial 2
Trial 3
Trial 4
Trial 5
Dog 1
Golden Retriever
Female
R
R
L
L
R
Dog 2
Bushong
Female
L
L
R
L
L
Dog 3
German Shepherd
Female
R
L
R
R
L
Dog 4
Pitbull
Male
L
L
L
L
L
Dog 5
Golden Husky
Female
R
L
R
R
R
Dog 6
Maltese Mix
Female
L
R
R
R
L
DSC_0411.jpg
Lacey; one of the dogs we tested in our experiment.






KEY:
R - Right Paw
L - Left Paw




Paw PreferenceMaddy Hibbard and Courtney Stolba
Abstract:
  • Summary:We all know that humans have certain hand preferences. You can be a "righty," a "lefty," or even ambidextrous (able to use both your left and right hand). But can this be the same with dogs? The point of our experiment is to see if it is possible for dogs to have a paw preference. From here, we can then go and determine which side of the brain certain dogs tend to use the most. In case you didn't know: the right paw is controlled by the left brain - the left paw is controlled by the right brain. Our goal is that after completing this experiment we can confidently say whether or not dogs, like humans, have paw preferences.
    • Maddy Hibbard - Kerwin, 1st hour
    • Courtney Stolba - Kingdon, 4th hour

Purpose:
For our ISP, we are testing to see if common household pets can be right or left "handed." Both of us wanted to do an experiment where we could interact with animals, and this topic seemed pretty interesting. A question we have is: Is it possible that a pet can have a paw preference? Is it even possible to test? According to some articles, we learned dogs can be biased toward their right or left sides (http://www.metpet.com/Reference/Health%20&%20Fitness/Dogs/right_and_lefthanded_dogs.htm) and it is believed that ... some dogs are known to be ambidextrous.
(http://www.all-science-fair-projects.com/print_project_1403_78). We also learned that perhaps more that show male dogs have a left paw preference and if you are right handed, you may perceive your dog to be left-handed since he or she mirrors your actions (http://woofreport.com/more-bones-to-chew-on/2414-all-about-paw-preference-in-dogs.html). So, we decided to look at what information we've gathered and test the questions we had by forming some experiments on certain household pets -- specifically dogs. The experiments we plan on doing will include noting which paw is used in the process of removing a piece of adhesive paper from the snout and which paw a dog uses to "shake hands." (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0166432804000129). We will test on six different dogs and see which paw the majority of them prefer to use. As we test the paw preference of our pets, we expect there to be reliable results that will help us understand the wonder and complexity of common animals.

Hypothesis: If we correctly execute these experiments, then we will see that dogs do have a paw preference: males, left paw; females, right paw.

Materials:

  • Dogs (approx. 2-3 big dogs, 2-3 small dogs)
    • Different breeds for variety and a more accurate experiment
  • Tape
  • Treats (to reward dogs)

Procedure For Testing Dogs:

  • Tell the dog to sit.
  • Make sure both paws are on the ground and equivalent to each other.
  • Place a piece of paper or tape on its snout.
  • Observe what paw the dog chooses to get the paper or tape off of its snout.
  • Repeat 4 more times. (5 total trials)
  • Tell the dog to sit.
  • Ask it to shake.
  • Observe which paw the dog uses to shake with.
  • Repeat 4 more times. (5 total trials)

Analysis:

By making the dogs shake and remove tape off of their noses it helps us understand if they think like we do. The tape was a good idea because it made the dog think and react to what was happening with what was on its nose. By it reacting, it did what was natural to it to get out of the situation it was in or taking the tape off its nose. By making the dog shake, it made the dog think about what we were asking it to do, and what it was trained to do. So by doing both of these activities, it helps us understand what paw it prefers. When we're looking at our graphs and table, we see that most dogs seem to be ambidextrous. However, if we take an even closer look at the data, we observe that no dog had a dominant paw choice that’s exactly 50/50. This means that every dog that we tested shows some sort of paw preference throughout the experiment. This proves our hypothesis to be right: stating that dogs do tend to have a paw preference.

Conclusion:

All though most dogs seem to be ambidextrous, we conclude that our hypothesis was correct: female dogs prefer using their right paw and male dogs prefer to use their left paw when completing simple and repeated tasks.

Limitations:

Maddy: If I were to change anything about this experiment it would be to test more animals. Instead of just dogs, I would try cats too. I think it would help us understand more about other animals and their paw preference and it would tell us if dogs and cats are a like with what paw they choose.
Courtney: If I were to do this experiment again, one thing I would do differently would be making sure we had more balanced data. Because of situations, we were only able to test one male dog and five females. To prove our data to be more reliable, I would definitely make sure that all the information would be split evenly. In this case, testing maybe 3 males and 3 females. I think this would have really helped our experiment's results to be even more accurate in the long run.
Other notes: On a few occasions, we would put tape on a dog's nose and it would move slightly to the left or the right. When this happened, we saw that the dog preferred to use the paw that would remove the tape the easiest... whether it was his dominant paw or not. This could have effected our results.

Sources and Bibliography:

  1. 2012 Woof Report (2011, March 16). All About Paw Preference in Dogs - Woof Report. A Free Weekly Email Newsletter with Dog Advice, Dog Care Tips, Dog News, Products, Services, Gifts for Dog Lovers and More. Retrieved March 8, 2013, from http://woofreport.com/more-bones-to-chew-on/2414-all-about-paw-preference-in-dogs.html
  2. Are you left or right pawed? (n.d.). All Science Fair Projects. Retrieved March 11, 2013, from http://www.all-science-fair-projects.com/print_project_1403_78).
  3. Elsevier, B. V. (2004). ScienceDirect.com - Behavioural Brain Research - Paw preference in dogs: relations between lateralised behaviour and immunity. ScienceDirect.com | Search through over 11 million science, health, medical journal full text articles and books.. Retrieved March 9, 2013, from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0166432804000129
  4. MetPet.com Staff Writer (n.d.). Right and left-handed dogs. Walking Jacket for Cats and Cat Toys. Information and Articles on Cats and Dogs. Retrieved 2012, from http://www.metpet.com/Reference/Health%20&%20Fitness/Dogs/right_and_lefthanded_dogs.htm

COMMENTS and QUESTIONS:

Exactly how many dogs are you going to use? (Austin McMurray)
Are you going to test the animals many times or each animal once? (Autumn Anzell)
Does the breed of dog matter? (Casey F.)
Are you going to test the same amount of cats that you test dogs? (Lauren Jenkins)
Are you going to use small or big dogs? (Emily Blicharz)
-Why did you choose to do this experiment?? (Madi McCoy)
Wouldn't it be dangerous to put adhesive paper on an animal's snout? It could cover up their nostrils and they couldn't breathe. (Trina Spitzer)
Whose pets will you be using? (Sarah Baer)