Tag Archives: right paw

Dog agility: Do emotions get in the way of a top performance?

dog agility

Researchers have debated human right brain/left brain theory for years.  New research has looked into whether lateralisation of brain function affects dogs.

The study involved 19 dogs and trainers.  The study subjects went through a series of tests, firstly paw preference tests whilst offering food followed by agility tests, using A-frames, jumps and weave poles.  Throughout the tests, the dogs received trainer stimuli from both the right and left sides.

Trainers also completed questionnaires giving more information about the dog’s temperament.  Results showed a correlation between paw preference and agility.  Dogs with stronger paw preferences seemed more predisposed to training, less distracted and had greater agility.

When trainers presented on the left, dogs were more agitated, emotional, and performances deteriorated.  A dog’s left visual field stimulates the right brain hemisphere.

Overall the results revealed that behavioural lateralisation correlates with
performance of agility-trained dogs.  These results support previous evidence that lateralisation in dogs can directly affect visually guided motor
responses.

The results have practical implications for personnel involved in
the selection of dogs trained specifically for agility competitions and for the
development of new training techniques.

You can read the full article on this research here.

 Read my previous blogs about paw preference in dogs:

·        Behaviour in dogs depends on paw preference

·         Is your dog right-pawed or left-pawed?

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Behaviour in dogs depends on the paw preference

I’ve previously written about how to test if your dog is right-pawed or left pawed.  Researchers at the University of Adelaide led by Dr Luke Schneider tested a group of 73 dogs using 50 manipulations of an object to determine their paw preference.  They then interviewed the dog owners about their dog’s behavior to see if there was a pattern.

“We found that dogs with a preference for left paws were reported by their owners to show high levels of aggression towards strangers. The left pawed dogs scored almost twice as high as ambilateral (ones with no preference) and also higher than dogs with right paws.

“There is research in the human world as well that positive and negative emotions can be located in the left and right hemispheres and it seems to go the same way in humans and other animal species, that the negative emotions are located in the right hemisphere. There are many, many overlaps between human and animal brains.”

Blake the Beagle shows his preference for the right paw

Blake the Beagle shows his preference for the right paw

When testing dogs for paw preference, the research team found a roughly even split between those dogs that had a right paw preference vs those with a left paw preference.

None of the dogs in the study were noted as particularly aggressive, and so the research team wants to do more work with dogs who are noted for aggression-type responses.  A larger testing group would also help to validate results.  The research team’s study has been published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior.