Sensory Jump Test as a measure of sensory (visual) lateralization in dogs (Canis familiaris)

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Sensory lateralization in dogs (n = 74) was investigated in this study using our innovation, the Sensory Jump Test. This required the modification of head halters to create three different ocular treatments (binocular, right, and left monocular vision) for eye preference assessment in a jumping task. Ten jumps were recorded as a jump set for each treatment. Measurements recorded included (i) launch and landing paws, (ii) type of jump, (iii) approach distance, (iv) clearance height of the forepaw, hindpaw, and the lowest part of the body to clear the jump, and (v) whether the jump was successful. Factors significantly associated with these jump outcomes included ocular treatment, jump set number, and replication number. Most notably, in the first jump set, findings indicated a left hemispheric dominance for the initial navigation of the Sensory Jump Test, as left monocular vision (LMV) compromised of jumping more than right monocular (RMV) and binocular vision, with a significantly reduced approach distance and forepaw clearance observed in dogs with LMV. However, by the third jump set, dogs undergoing LMV launched from a greater approach distance and with a higher clearance height, corresponding to an increase in success rate of the jump, in comparison with RMV and binocular vision dogs. A marginally non-significant RMV bias was observed for eye preference based on the laterality indices for approach distance (P = 0.060) and lowest body part clearance height (P = 0.067). A comparison between eye preference and launching or landing paws showed no association between these measures of sensory and motor laterality. To our knowledge, this is the first study to report on sensory lateralization in the dog, and furthermore, to compare both motor and sensory laterality in dogs.