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Behav Processes. 2013 Nov;100:40-3. doi: 10.1016/j.beproc.2013.07.017. Epub 2013 Aug 7.

The effect of preferential paw usage on dogs' (Canis familiaris) performance in a manipulative problem-solving task.

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Sezione di Psicologia, Dipartimento di Fisiopatologia Medico-Chirurgica e dei Trapianti, Facoltà di Medicina, Università di Milano, Italy. Electronic address:


In a number of species, individuals showing lateralized hand/paw usage (i.e. the preferential use of either the right or left paw) compared to ambilateral individuals have been shown to be more proactive in novel situations. In the current study we used an established test to assess preferential paw usage in dogs (the Kong test) and then compared the performance of ambilateral and lateralized dogs as well as left- vs. right-pawed dogs in a novel manipulative problem solving task. Results showed an equal proportion of ambilateral and lateralized dogs but contrary to predictions non-lateralized dogs were faster at accessing the apparatus in test trials. No differences emerged between right- and left-pawed dogs. Results are discussed in relation to previous studies on lateralization.


Dog; Handedness; Lateralization; Problem-solving; Sex

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