Is your pet left-pawed or right-pawed?

Animals can be left-pawed, right-pawed or show no preference at all. Check out which is most likely. Then test your pet (pet paw tests below).

Factors which can influence how your pet uses their paws:

  • Disability or arthritis may mean your pet uses other limbs in preferences to their naturally preferred one
  • When a test is not motivating enough, your pet may show no favourite.
  • Simple play tests may only demonstrate how your pet uses both paws. You need to make the test motivating enough.
  • Our pets will often favour their mouth over either paw so you may need to design the test accordingly eg. place a treat in a small area, so that their mouth cannot be used.
  • Each test will need to be repeated several times to be sure that your pet is showing a preference for one paw over another.

collie dog soccer ball

Here are the tests you can do with your pet to determine their paw preference…

Pet Paw Tests

1. Place a piece of food or a favourite toy just out of your pet’s reach eg. under a coffee table. Watch which paw they use to retrieve the item.

2. If your pet, typically dogs, shakes hands with you or gives you a paw, which paw do they prefer to give you?

3. Place something tasty eg. peanut butter, cream, on your pet’s nose. Which paw do they use to get it off? (Note: dogs may simply lick it!) You could also use a small piece of sticky tape but be careful not to traumatise your pet!

4. Fill a food-releasing toy between your pet’s paws. Which paw do they touch it with first? Which paw do they use to hold the toy?

cat play pyramid

5. Does your pet knock or scrape at your door to be let in or out? Which paw do they use?

6. Dangle a toy above your pet’s head (this works best with cats). Which paw do they reach for the toy with first?

7. Trail a toy along the ground or roll a ball away from you. Which paw does your pet (good for cats) catch the toy with? Repeat several times to be sure.

8. Place a treat under your pet’s bowl. Which paw do they use to knock the bowl aside?

9. Watch which paw your pet sets off to walk with. Repeat this observation lots of time to be sure.

10. Place something tasty to drink in a tall, heavy plastic tumbler. Does your pet use a paw to try to get at the liquid inside? (Watch Clyde the cat try to drink milk using his left paw below.)


So which is it? Left, right or both paws?

After doing these test you may have an indication of which paw your pet prefers. Then again, your pet may be ambidextrous and use both paws. Let us know your pet’s preference.

And remember, this is your pet. There is little advantage in being a leftie, favouring the right paw or using both equally. But, if you are interested in the small temperament difference between pets and their paw use, read here.

And you may also like to observe your pet’s listening, tail wagging or leg lifting habits too 🙂


Pet Supplies, Food & Accessories Online