Just like humans and their hands, many pets have a certain paw they prefer over the other. According to a recent study, 50% of cats are right pawed, 40% favor their left paw and 10% of them are ambidextrous, favoring neither!
Dogs, on the other hand, tend to be more evenly split with around 50% being left-pawed and 50% being right-pawed, with a statistically insignificant number being ambidextrous.
In addition, there seems to be a connection between your pet's gender and which paw is dominant. Specifically, female cats and dogs typically will have a dominant right paw, while males tend to favor the left. However, if your pet has been spayed or neutered at an early age, this distinction may go away.
- If you teach your dog to shake, which paw do they offer you first and most often?
- If your dog or cat is playing on their back and you put your hand just out of their reach, which paw do they reach for your hand with?
- Fill a toy with something delicious and put it in the center of your dog’s visual field. Which paw does it use to touch the toy first? Which paw does your dog use to hold the toy?
- Put something sticky on your dog or cat’s nose. Which paw do they use to remove it?
- Place a treat or a piece of cheese under a sofa, just beyond your dog or cat’s reach. Which paw do they use to try and get it out?
- If your pet wants to get inside or into a room you’re in, which paw do they typically use to scratch at the door?
- Dangle a toy over your cat’s head. Which paw lifts to swat at it?
- Put a treat under a bowl. Which paw does your cat or dog use to move it?
Note which paw is used and once you've done several dozen (at least) tests, a clear dominant paw should emerge. If you've done 100-200 tests and there is no noticeable paw preference, your pet is probably ambidextrous.