Can dogs have a preferred paw, similar to humans having a dominant hand?

5 min readDec 20, 2023

Have you ever noticed that your dog tends to use one paw over the other when it comes to certain activities?
Well, just like humans have a dominant hand, dogs can have a preferred paw as well.

Photo by Josh Hild on Unsplash

This means that dogs may have a paw they prefer to use for tasks such as grabbing toys, digging holes, or even shaking hands.
However, it’s important to note that not all dogs have a clear preference, as some may use both paws equally.
To determine if your dog has a preferred paw, you can try observing their behavior during different activities.
For example, watch which paw your dog uses to scratch an itch or which paw they use to swipe at an object.
You may also notice a preference when your dog is performing certain tricks or commands.
If you’re still not sure, you can also consult a professional trainer or veterinarian who can help you determine your dog’s preferred paw.
So why do dogs have preferred paws? One theory is that it might be influenced by genetics or breed traits.
Another possibility is that it could be related to brain dominance, similar to how humans have dominant cerebral hemispheres.
It’s even been suggested that a dog’s preferred paw could be influenced by their past experiences or the environment they were raised in.
However, more research is needed to fully understand the reasons behind a dog’s preferred paw.
Understanding your dog’s preferred paw can be beneficial in training and providing mental stimulation.
Knowing which paw your dog prefers can help you tailor activities and exercises to their preferences.
For example, if your dog favors their right paw, you may want to encourage them to engage in activities that challenge their left paw.
In conclusion, dogs can indeed have a preferred paw, just like humans have a dominant hand.
While not all dogs show a clear preference, it’s an interesting aspect of their behavior that can be observed and utilized in training.




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