ADELAIDE, S Australia:  ‘Left-pawed’ dogs are more likely to show aggression towards strangers than "right-pawed" ones, new research suggests.

It might provide little comfort to postmen who find themselves chased down the garden path, but their canine tormentors are not necessarily badly trained. It turns out they might just be “left handed”.

Academics have found evidence to suggest that dogs which prefer to use their left paw are more likely to show aggression towards strangers than right-pawed ones. They conducted tests among a group of dogs to establish which paw preference they had and then analysed their behaviour for various traits.  Although there did not appear to be a link with characteristics such as excitability and attention seeking, those animals which were left-pawed were markedly more likely to exhibit aggression towards people they did not know. –TG

The left paw is controlled by the right hemisphere of the brain, which is associated with more negative emotions, and the scientists believe the findings reflect what has previously been observed in humans.

Dr Luke Schneider, from the University of Adelaide, said: “We found that dogs with a preference for left paws were reported by their owners to show high levels of aggression towards strangers. The left pawed dogs scored almost twice as high as ambilateral (ones with no preference) and also higher than dogs with right paws.

“There is research in the human world as well that positive and negative emotions can be located in the left and right hemispheres and it seems to go the same way in humans and other animal species, that the negative emotions are located in the right hemisphere. There are many, many overlaps between human and animal brains.” TG