Measuring paw preferences in dogs, cats and rats: Design requirements and innovations in methodology

Isparta, Sevim
Töre Yargın, Gülşen
Wagner, Selina C.
Mundorf, Annakarina
Da Graça Pereira, Goncalo
Güntürkün, Onur
Ocklenburg, Sebastian
Freund, Nadja
Studying behavioural lateralization in animals holds great potential for answering important questions in laterality research and clinical neuroscience. However, comparative research encounters challenges in reliability and validity, requiring new approaches and innovative designs to overcome. Although validated tests exist for some species, there is yet no standard test to compare lateralized manual behaviours between individuals, populations, and animal species. One of the main reasons is that different fine-motor abilities and postures must be considered for each species. Given that pawedness/handedness is a universal marker for behavioural lateralization across species, this article focuses on three commonly investigated species in laterality research: dogs, cats, and rats. We will present six apparatuses (two for dogs, three for cats, and one for rats) that enable an accurate assessment of paw preference. Design requirements and specifications such as zoometric fit for different body sizes and ages, reliability, robustness of the material, maintenance during and after testing, and animal welfare are extremely important when designing a new apparatus. Given that the study of behavioural lateralization yields crucial insights into animal welfare, laterality research, and clinical neuroscience, we aim to provide a solution to these challenges by presenting design requirements and innovations in methodology across species.
Citation Formats
S. Isparta et al., “Measuring paw preferences in dogs, cats and rats: Design requirements and innovations in methodology,” Laterality, pp. 0–0, 2024, Accessed: 00, 2024. [Online]. Available: