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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
My Dog Science Experiment-Slightly revised

My name is Connor. I am conducting a science experiment in my sixth grade class. I am testing to see if dogs have a right or left paw preference. I was hoping that some of you readers could help me out by testing your dog. To do this you need to follow these simple instructions.

1. Stand directly in front of your dog.
2. Place your hand (which ever one you normally use. You can alternate hands if you want) in the front and center of your dog. Make sure your hand is equal distance from the left and right front paw.
3. Give the command that will prompt your dog to shake your hand.
4. Record which paw the dog uses to shake your hand.
5. Repeat this two times for a total of three times.
6. Please e-mail me the following information:

a. The results of each of the three tests.
b. The gender of the dog
c. Indicate whether the dog is spayed or neutered.

My email address is:
[email protected]

A sample e-mail might look like this:

test 1: right
test 2: left
test 3: left
female/spayed

Please send only one result for each dog you own.

Please note that if you have taught your dog to have a paw preference (such as giving ots right paw when you hold out your left) do not participate in the experiment. I am testing for instincts not learned behavior.

Thank you. I really appreciate the help. I will post results, if interested.
 

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Most people trail their dogs when they give the left hand the dog lifts the right paw, and right hand the left paw, so which hand are we supposed to use? You might have to include this in your experiment. Good luck!
 

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I agree. This forum might be a poor sample group.

Most dogs are trained to offer paw to whichever hand you have out. I.e. if I extend my right hand, kobe extends his left paw. If I extend my left hand, kobe extends his right paw.

That and, when teaching "paw", right handers will likely grab the dog's left paw to teach the trick. Left handers will likely grab hte dog's right paw. As such, the dog's natural preference might be based on whether his handler is right or left handed.

Good luck with your study though.
 

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I don't know if it's too late to modify your experiment at all, but the one you have now has a little problem. When most dog owners teach their dog to shake, they teach it for a specific paw. Even if they try to even the paw usage out after the fact, the dog will still be more heavily reinforced to give one paw than the other.

If I could suggest another option: set your dog up in a stand/stay with all four feet lined up equally. Give your dog a little push from behind and see which of the front feet it catches itself on. I don't know if this is any better, but it won't have the history of reinforcement that shaking has.

Good luck with your experiment!
 

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If I could suggest another option: set your dog up in a stand/stay with all four feet lined up equally. Give your dog a little push from behind and see which of the front feet it catches itself on. I don't know if this is any better, but it won't have the history of reinforcement that shaking has.
This does sound like a good idea. The OP could just have the dogs stay and then come and see which foot he steps forward with, that is if it isn't too late to change the experiment. It is true that the foot the dog primarily was taught with is the one he will most likely use.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Unfortunately I can't change the experiment at this point but I will consider putting the suggestion in the section of my report that describes how I could improve the experiment next time.
 

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Heh - I just stuck my hand out and make Wally put a paw in it.

I don't reach/grab for a paw. He sticks one out/puts it in my hand and that's the one I take.

Anyway, it seems like Wally is "right-pawed". Whenever he's trying to bat at something with his paws, he uses his right paw first/most often. When he offers a paw (i.e. he does it on his own), he uses his right paw more often. When he walks, he leads with his right paw. When he's balancing/sticking out his paws while standing on his hind paws - he moves the right one more/raises it higher.

Getting him to use his left paw is actually a bit of an effort. It's like he has to think how to use it - a lot like I'd have to think on how to write right-handed (I'm a lefty).

My results are e-mailed.
 

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Apparently my dogs have decided they are right or left pawed. No matter what hand I give Smalls she gives me her right paw. Jack and Magpie always gives left. Jonas gives neither because he seemingly can absolutely not pick up this command.
 

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I think if you watch a dog at a slow run you will notice he will consistently have one front leg in the front of the other. Would this show a favored side?
 

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Determining which side dominant a dog is it is, you will get a truer reading from watching the dog's gate. Which paw does it lead with, does it do a flying lead change mid-stride and why? There are definate indicators that will tell you which paw dominant a dog is but by using a technique such as give paw which can be influenced by many exterior factors such as trainers preference and desired outcome to training the exercise, is not an accurate indicator. You really need to watch a dog in a natural state rather than a prompted one to prove this theory. Good luck and can't wait to see your results.

PS my dogs will offer which ever paw is directly across from what ever hand you offer unless I prompt him "no other paw".
 
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